New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary's (NOBTS) commitment to the Big Easy has survived Hurricane Katrina, as the school's trustees voted to restore the ravaged and deserted campus in time for the fall 2006 semester.

Hurricane Katrina winds and flooding caused an estimated $20 million in damage and sent students, faculty, and staff to Atlanta and other cities to continue studies in temporary facilities. But after reviewing the damage and costs, the trustees voted unanimously September 27 to keep the school in New Orleans. The seminary's property in the city is still valued at $70 million.

"New Orleans is no place for the faint of heart, but we need to be there," said NOBTS president Chuck Kelley. "There is a terrific opportunity for the gospel."

NOBTS, one of the largest seminaries in the world, was evacuated as the hurricane approached. About 80 percent of the 2,200 students based at the main campus are continuing their studies at 16 satellite locations. The administrative office buildings are largely intact, but the housing is badly damaged. One unique characteristic of the urban seminary is that much of the seminary family lives together on the 85-acre campus—including 500 student families and half of the faculty and staff.

"Four days after the hurricane, we pulled together the administrative team and many faculty and staff in Atlanta," Kelley explained. "We grieved, cried, and prayed, then got to work figuring out how we could keep people on their degree plans, and how we could offer assistance to seminary families."

This is not the first time the seminary faced a decision about staying in New Orleans. In 1986, a seminary task force studied an opportunity to relocate the seminary to the suburbs, but the trustees ...

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