East Texas Baptist University celebrated the 105th anniversary of the institution’s chartering with Founders Day on Sunday, October 22. This special service was held at First Baptist Church, Marshall in honor of W. T. Tardy, the first Pastor of FBC Marshall and founder of the College of Marshall, ETBU’s forerunner.
“W. T. Tardy wanted an institution that would proclaim Christ in East Texas,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “What we have today in the University was planned long ago by this church. We are grateful for what you have done in partnering with us in the mission to be a Christ-centered institution, committed to integrating biblical faith in academic learning to train students to be Christian servant-leaders in whatever field the Lord calls them.”
Drawn by the spirit of God, Tardy arrived in 1910 to serve as pastor of FBC Marshall. He believed that God called him to enrich the spiritual and intellectual condition of the community by providing a Christian education for the region. With Tardy’s vision and support from local community leaders including Marvin Turney, P.G. Whaley, and M.P. McGee, the initial funding was generously provided in 1912 to begin building the College of Marshall. In 1916, the first structure, Marshall Hall, was constructed and still stands today, over 100 years later, as an icon for Christian education in East Texas.
“I appreciate the education I received at ETBU, a Christian Liberal Arts University,” ETBU Alumnus (‘97) and FBC Marshall Pastor Ryan Berryhill shared. “Liberal means free. It is based on the Greco-Roman idea that to learn across the spectrum is foundational. It is the Christian liberal arts education, rooted in the risen Messiah, that enables us to love God with all of our mind and love others by understanding their perspective. We can learn from other people, disciplines, and ways of life.”
During the service, Dr. Blackburn presented FBC Marshall with a replica of the “Divine Servant” statue that stands outside of ETBU’s Ornelas Spiritual Life Center to express appreciation for their support to the mission of Christian servant leadership development and to remind the church to pray for the University as it serves the needs of others as modeled by Christ. The program also featured worship from the University Singers and the ETBU Worship Band.
“As we gather today, we know that there are people all across the globe of many languages who have gathered for the same purpose – to worship the Lord God Almighty,” ETBU Dean of the School of Communication and Performing Arts Thomas Webster said. “As we perform Baba Yetu, the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili, we acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of the Kingdom of God.”