August 5, 2020
As East Texas Baptist University seeks to expand academic capabilities, enhance program offerings, and further spread the Gospel across East Texas and throughout the world, the J.E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation recently awarded ETBU a challenge grant in the amount of $1,500,000 towards the construction of the Great Commission Center (GCC), the future home for ETBU's Fred Hale School of Business. In order to receive the challenge grant funds from the Mabee Foundation, the University will need to raise a total of $6,000,000 for the project by July 2021.
"We rejoice in the provision of God's grace and gifting, and we give thanks to the Lord for the great things He has done for our University," ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. "God has laid a vision on our hearts to transform more ETBU students and graduates into devoted Christian servant leaders and outstanding ethical business leaders. I am excited to witness how the Great Commission Center will provide a place for our faculty and staff to teach and equip ETBU business students with the tools to live out the Great Commission in their future vocations."
Inspired by Baker Library at Harvard University, which also houses the Harvard Business School, this new building will become the focal symbol for quality Christian education, servant leadership development, and excellence in business leadership and ethics throughout the East Texas region and the Southern United States. ETBC Alumnus, Dr. Jim Teague ('68) gave the initial lead gift to set this vision in action. Dr. Teague was the recipient of an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Humanities for his service to God and humanity at ETBU's Spring 2018 Commencement ceremony.
“We are thrilled to receive the $1,500,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L. E. Mabee Foundation to support the $7,500,000 Great Commission Center Building Campaign," ETBU Vice President for Advancement Scott Bryant said. “The Mabee Foundation leaders are thrilled with the project and impressed that we already raised $3,000,000 for the campaign. The Mabee Foundation challenge grant gives us 12 months to raise an additional $3,000,000. If we raise the additional $3,000,000, then the Mabee Foundation will grant us $1,500,000 to complete the project. I am asking for ETBU alumni and donors to prayerfully consider partnering with us on this important project. Together, we can make a great impact as we provide a new facility that prepares students to be Christian servant leaders."
Called the Great Commission Center, the building will be the physical manifestation of ETBU's core mission of developing Christian servant leaders. The facility will house the University's Great Commission Center—an institution-wide program initiative which connects students, faculty, and staff with our local communities in East Texas, cities across the United States, and cultures across the globe in fulfillment of the Great Commission call in Scripture (Matthew 28:19-20).
"The Great Commission Center at ETBU will be a brick-and-mortar representation of our understanding of the Great Commission's depth and breadth: to make disciples," Director of Global Education and the Great Commission Center Lisa Seeley said. "The ministry there will reach into the world for Christ through those ETBU teaches and influences. One of the things I am most looking forward to with the new Great Commission Center is to have a central location for students, faculty, staff, and campus guests to come to find information, training, and encouragement as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission in their daily lives. To be able to focus our work on instilling these teachings, literally making disciples on our campus and in our community, is a life-changing ministry."
The 23,500 square foot facility will also be home to one of ETBU's largest academic programs, the Fred Hale School of Business. Located in the central quadrant of academic life, the Great Commission Center will grant the Hale School of Business the prominence as a premier program of study. A modern 21st-century learning center with historic architectural and educational identity will advance the Hale Business School's awareness, relevance, and reputation as a leading Christ-centered business school for undergraduate and graduate studies.
"The marriage of the Business School with the Great Commission Center is not just a convenient way to house two departments," Dr. Seeley added. "It is a recognition of the call of every Christian to make disciples as they go into the world with their God-given vocation, whether that be as an executive, entrepreneur, financial planner, teacher, nurse, physical therapist, coach or minister."
Since its formation in 1948, the Mabee Foundation has made grants totaling over $1.2 billion for non-profit, 501©(3) organizations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas.