Published December 12, 2013
MT. VERNON — Educator and author Ergun Caner has been elected as the 16th president of Georgia Baptist-affiliated Brewton-Parker College.
Trustees approved the unanimous election Dec. 2, barely two months after President Mike Simoneaux announced his retirement effective Dec. 31. Simoneaux came to Brewton-Parker on academic loan from sister college Truett-McConnell in March 2011 and was named president six months later.
Simoneaux spent his brief tenure pulling the college back from the brink of academic and financial collapse, including the school being put on probation in June 2012 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college remains fully accredited to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Caner, 48, will now build on that foundation with tools he honed while serving as dean at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA, and most recently as provost and academic dean at Arlington Baptist College in Texas.
His younger brother, Emir, was named president of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland in August 2008.
‘On fire for Jesus’
GBC Executive Director J. Robert White said, “Dr. Ergun Caner is an evangelist who is on fire for Jesus Christ. He has a great heart for college students and speaks to thousands of students across the nation every year. We will see remarkable growth of the student body at Brewton-Parker in the years ahead. There will be great numerical growth, but more importantly, there will be a high level of spiritual growth.
“Dr. Caner is one of the finest preachers in America today and will bless and inspire our Georgia Baptist churches. I can’t wait to see how God is going to bless Brewton-Parker under the leadership of our new president.”
Ergun Caner was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1966 and is the oldest son of a devout Turkish Muslim leader. The family emmigrated to the United States in 1969 and settled in central Ohio. Through the persistence of a high school friend, Caner converted to Christianity and became a minister shortly thereafter. He is a 1984 graduate of Gahanna Lincoln High School.
Caner received his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Cumberland College in 1989, his Master of Arts from Criswell College in Dallas, TX in 1992, a Master of Divinity (1994) and a Master of Theology (1995) from Southeastern Seminary, and the Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa.
In 2010 Caner was embroiled in controversy when religious bloggers accused him of embellishing his background as a former Muslim turned Christian. When those bloggers began uploading videos of Caner, Liberty University formed a committee to investigate the charges.
Though the committee found no evidence of Caner deliberately lying, he stepped down as dean, though he continued as a full-time professor until he went to Arlington.
Authored numerous books with his brother
One of the most popular speakers on the evangelical circuit, Caner speaks at Christian youth camps and conferences, as well as conventions and academic gatherings. He and his brother have written numerous books on world religions including Unveiling Islam, which won the Gold Medallion Award in Evangelical Publishing in 2003.
Outgoing president Simoneaux said he was excited about the trustee action.
“Dr. Caner brings a wealth of experience to the presidency with more than three decades in Christian higher education leadership, biblical teaching, preaching, and apologetics. This appointment will excite Georgia and Southern Baptists who will sit up and take notice that Brewton-Parker College and its trustees are serious about its stand on the infallibility of the Scriptures and its decision to honor Jesus Christ in every area.
“I have no doubt that the college will grow and strengthen exponentially under his leadership. Bonnie and I leave the college knowing that the school we have loved since our first step onto the campus is in the strong, spirit-led, and capable hands of President Ergun Caner. May God richly bless his presidency.”
Board of Trustees Chairman Bucky Kennedy added, “I am excited about Dr. Caner being the 16th president of Brewton-Parker College and believe our best and brightest days are in front of us. His visionary leadership and passion for students are remarkable and refreshing and his character and love for God are admirable and inspirational.”
Brewton-Parker, founded in 1904, offers four baccalaureate degrees. Fall 2013 Full Time Equivalent enrollment is 912, according to BPC spokesperson Mandy Corbin.
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