Covenant Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, following its recent called meeting, announced the Rev. Dr. Thomas “Tom” C. Gibbs as its sixth president in the institution’s 65-year history.
Dr. Gibbs will assume the presidency on July 1, 2021 pending the approval of the General Assembly Theological Examining Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He will succeed Dr. Mark Dalbey who announced his retirement earlier this year. Dr. Dalbey will remain close with the seminary serving as an advisor to the next president to ensure a smooth transition.
In response to this new role and ministry call, Dr. Gibbs said “Covenant Seminary has long stood as a leader in training up pastors and counselors for the denomination and broader church. I am deeply humbled by this invitation to serve in this new role and honored to lead this great institution in training up gospel leaders for the church during this next season.”
A succession plan, and the search for a new president, was initiated at the request of Dr. Dalbey in 2018, who after serving over 20 years on the faculty and staff at Covenant Seminary, requested that the board begin to prepare for the next generation of leadership to steward the ongoing mission of equipping leaders for the Church. One year ago, the seminary board of trustees established a search committee made up of PCA teaching and ruling elders, along with faculty and staff of the Seminary. As a part of this process, the search committee selected one of the nation’s leading executive recruiting firms, The Dingman Company, to assist and manage the extensive global presidential search. After considering over 75 candidates, conducting dozens of interviews, and identifying qualified finalists, the committee concluded that Dr. Gibbs was the man whom God had prepared to lead Covenant Seminary into the future.
Covenant Seminary board chairman Dr. Miles Gresham said, “I am happy to report that following a thorough and prayerful search by the committee, the board of trustees has enthusiastically selected Dr. Tom Gibbs to lead the seminary as its sixth president. The board could not be happier with this decision. Tom has a proven record of successful leadership with a deep commitment to local church ministry. These are the things that Covenant Seminary holds dearly. We look forward to a new generation of pastors, counselors and ministry leaders trained under the leadership of Dr. Gibbs as we seek to equip the Church in the years ahead.”
Seminary trustee and presidential search committee chairman Sam Graham stated, “God has clearly been preparing Tom Gibbs for this unique and strategic role. During our search, we received over 75 nominations from alumni, faculty, leaders across the PCA, and friends of the Seminary resulting in candidates from five continents. After devoting over 14 months to this careful, comprehensive, and prayer-filled search, I enthusiastically endorse Tom Gibbs to be the next president of Covenant Seminary. Tom is a proven leader who possesses an elusive combination of genuine humility, grace-driven strength of leadership, and vision. His passion for God’s word, commitment to the great commission, and deep experience in organizational leadership will serve him well as he enters this new role during this strategic time in the life of the seminary and the denomination.”
Dr. Gibbs brings a great love for the Bible and pastoral ministry, having served as a pastor for 24 years. After graduating from Covenant Seminary in 1997, he started a new Reformed University Fellowship chapter at Baylor University, which continues to this day. He then planted Redeemer Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, Texas, in 2002 and has served as its senior pastor ever since.
Current seminary president, Dr. Mark Dalbey reflected on this new announcement: “I could not be happier with the selection of the search committee and to now see Dr. Gibbs appointed to this role. I have known Tom for many years and have seen firsthand his high commitment to the truth of God’s word and the grace of the gospel in his own life as well as those he serves. He is a man of deep faith and character with a track record of strong vision and gracious leadership. I am thrilled to hand the baton to him and have every confidence he will lead the seminary with excellence in the years ahead.”
Dr. Gibbs also brings a commitment to organizational leadership and church planting to his experience in ministry. In addition to planting Redeemer Presbyterian Church and Baylor RUF, he has overseen numerous church plants through his role as the chairman of the Southwest Church Planting Network, a network encompassing more than 60 churches across four states. Tom also founded and leads Reach South Texas – an organization focused on strategic church planting in South Texas to reach a rising generation amidst the nation’s changing demographics.
Tom also currently serves at the denominational level as church planting assessment director with Mission to North America (MNA). His work of mentoring church planters and ministry leaders will see further fruition as president of Covenant Seminary.
The presidential inauguration is tentatively scheduled for September 2021, with more information forthcoming. You can learn more about Dr. Gibbs, and updates on the inauguration celebration at covenantseminary.edu/presidential-transition.
Covenant Theological Seminary is the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). For over sixty years it has equipped thousands of pastors, counselors and ministry leaders to pursue a lifetime of ministry through its distinctive whole-person discipleship training in the Bible and ministry practice, both for the PCA and beyond. It offers a number of graduate degrees through its residential courses in St. Louis and Phoenix, along with many degrees online.
Dr. Tom Gibbs has pursued a lifetime of ministry, having served as a pastor for 24 years.
After graduating from Auburn University, he confirmed the Lord’s call upon his life by serving as a youth director at Faith Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He followed his call to ministry by pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Covenant Seminary. He then planted a new chapter of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at Baylor University. Five years later he planted Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, where he has been the senior pastor for 19 years.
Tom brings a passion for organizational leadership and multiplying ministry growth. Since planting Redeemer, he served for 12 years on the executive committee, four as chairman, of the Southwest Church Planting Network, which encompasses more than 60 churches across four presbyteries in the Southwest United States. He founded Reach South Texas, a collaboration of pastors and churches committed to strategic church planting in South Texas to reach a rising generation amidst the nation’s changing demographics, and he also founded the Ethos Leadership Initiative, through which he mentors other church and ministry leaders. At the denominational level, Tom serves as a church planting assessment director with Mission to North America (MNA).
In his free time he enjoys reading, fly-fishing, hiking, running, watching (and talking) Auburn football, Spurs basketball, Cardinals baseball, and practicing the culinary craft of Texas barbecue.
Tom and his wife Tara have been married for 26 years and have four children: Anna Catherine, Thomas, Lucy and Caroline.
“During our search, we received over 75 nominations from alumni, faculty, leaders across the PCA, and friends of the Seminary resulting in candidates from five continents. After devoting over 14 months to this careful, comprehensive, and prayer-filled search, I enthusiastically endorse Tom Gibbs to be the next president of Covenant Seminary.
Tom is a proven leader who possesses an elusive combination of genuine humility, grace-driven strength of leadership, and vision. He will bring a diverse set of experiences to the Seminary. Tom will be the first president of the Seminary who has been both an RUF Campus Minister and a church planter. In addition, Tom has served as the Senior Pastor of a thriving church which has planted multiple daughter churches. He has a clear love for Covenant Seminary—what it stands for, its team of scholars, pastors and administrators, and its legacy of ministry and service to the church and world. He celebrates the training up of pastor-scholars rooted in Biblical authority, the Reformed tradition, missional and cultural engagement and ecclesiastical service. Tom believes Covenant Seminary is uniquely positioned not only to train the next generation of PCA ministry leaders, but also to provide Gospel-rooted and grace-centered influence to a desperate world in a time of increasing cultural, societal, and theological turbulence.
Tom’s wife Tara is a gifted partner in ministry having worked at the Seminary when Tom was a student and also as a Bible study leader as she and Tom raised four children. May the Lord richly bless Tom and Tara as they seek to walk in God’s grace – all for God’s mission.”
Sam Graham, Trustee and Search Committee Chair, Covenant Theological Seminary
Ruling Elder, Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, TN
President & CEO, Diversified Trust Company
“Tom Gibbs, originally trained as an engineer, felt called to the ministry and received his MDiv and eventually his DMin from Covenant Seminary. He brings a wide array of ministry experience: youth ministry, RUF campus ministry, church planting and pastoring a thriving congregation in downtown San Antonio. His grace-centered leadership style has adapted to each of these phases of ministry. His passion for church planting led him to establish and lead a church planting network for South Texas. Tom’s experience leading a church in an ethnically diverse city through many stages of growth, along with the way God has gifted him, has prepared him to lead Covenant Theological Seminary in accomplishing its mission for years to come.”
Frank D. Wicks, PhD, Trustee/Vice Chair Board of Trustees, Covenant Theological Seminary
Ruling Elder, Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, Chesterfield, MO
Retired President, Sigma-Aldrich
“I am very grateful to the Lord for his provision of Tom Gibbs as our next president. As a two-time graduate of Covenant (MDiv, DMin), Tom understands and embodies our ethos well. As a former RUF minister, church planter, and pastor of a church that grew from small to medium to large, he brings a wealth of varied practical ministry experiences to this role. Most of all, as a recipient and student of God’s grace, he understands that the glories of what God has done in Christ are our only hope and foundation for a life of godliness.
Tom is joined by his wife Tara, also a gifted ministry leader, who worked at Covenant during and after their time here in St. Louis and who, like Tom, understands our ethos well. With the rest of the committee, I welcome them and their family most warmly!”
Jay Sklar, PhD, Professor of Old Testament, Vice President of Academics
Covenant Theological Seminary
“As a member of the presidential search committee which recommended Pastor Tom Gibbs to the Board of Trustees, I am eager to offer my unequivocal support to his role as next President of Covenant Theological Seminary. Pastor Tom has demonstrated great resiliency and adaptability from planting a church in San Antonio to pastoring it for over eighteen years. This pastoral experience will prove immensely relevant to the Seminary’s work of training servants of the gospel mission. As he transitions into his new role, my department and I will be keen to support and advise in all the ways that foster financial sustainability. With the Lord’s help, I believe that Tom’s guidance will help to advance the mission of the Seminary in solid and fruitful ways. We offer our love and prayers to Tom and his family!”
Alice Evans, CPA, Vice President of Business and Finance
Covenant Theological Seminary
“Following an extended period of search and prayerful deliberation, I join with sisters and brothers who also served on this search committee to give thanks to God for the way in which he continues to give gifts to his Church (Eph. 4). Pastor Tom Gibbs is one such gift and as he transitions from serving Redeemer Church in San Antonio, TX, to serving our denomination and the wider Christian community through taking up the role of President at Covenant Theological Seminary, so I join with those who would bear witness to his deep love for Christ and for his being faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed Faith, and obedient to the Great Commission. May the Lord be pleased to bless Tom (and Tara) as they prepare to rejoin our seminary community in a new way. May the Lord also be pleased to advance and multiply Tom’s considerable gifts of leadership within and beyond our seminary community.”
Mark P. Ryan, Director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute, Adjunct Professor of Religion and Culture
Covenant Theological Seminary
“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve with those on the Presidential Search Committee. I stand with them in the Committee’s recommendation to present Pastor Tom Gibbs to the Board of Trustees as the next President of Covenant Theological Seminary. Pastor Tom’s remarkable history as a church planter of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, which is now a large and complex organization, speaks to his excellent organizational leadership skills. He has led by example and others follow his endeavor to embrace a missions mindset and practice cultural engagement. His commitment to grace-centered leadership has prepared him to step into the role as President. Eager to serve our Lord and King, and the Covenant community, Pastor Tom and his wife, Tara, will bring a wealth of knowledge and gifting as servant-leaders. With my sister and brothers on the Committee, I rejoice in God’s provision of and look with an expectant hope to observe all the ways the Lord will use Pastor Tom and Tara Gibbs in our midst. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever,” (Psalm 72:18-19).
Suzanne R. Bates, MA, LPC, Assistant Professor of Counseling
Covenant Theological Seminary
“Tom Gibbs is a proven leader. He has modeled perseverance and steadfastness. Tom has ministered in a very diverse environment and has inspired others to join him in that work. He will continue the legacy of Covenant Theological Seminary to bring the emphasis of Pastor/Scholars to the Faculty. He is Christ-Centered, gospel-driven and grace-oriented and will continue to guard the ethos of the Seminary. Tom is a creative thinker and will judiciously think ‘outside-the-box’ to move the ministry of the Seminary forward into the future environment with all its opportunities and threats. I firmly believe that all the constituencies of the Seminary as well as the broader denominational constituents will find that the Covenant Seminary search team has presented a candidate fit for the task ahead. I join the rest of my colleagues on the search team by fully supporting the recommendation to the Board to hire Tom Gibbs as our next President. May the blessings of God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the abiding Presence and Power be upon Tom and Tara and the entire Covenant Seminary community.”
Bob Flayhart, Senior Pastor, Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church
“God has prepared Tom Gibbs to be the next President of Covenant Theological Seminary. Tom and his wife Tara have shared a gospel driven life in their marriage and in raising four children together. After graduating from Covenant Theological Seminary, they have pioneered ministries at Baylor University with RUF and then planting a church Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. The church has flourished as a rich expression of Christ centered mission which has overflowed into the city and the region. Yet, even more impressive is the way Tom has continued to grow as a humble, wise, and creative leader. He is willing to listen and learn, adapt and courageously step out into the changes and challenges of ministry and life. These God given gifts will help Covenant Seminary for years to come. May God lift up both Tom and Tara in the power of the Word and Spirit to serve powerfully for His glory.”
Hugh Barlett, Senior Pastor, Chesterfield Presbyterian Church
Adjunct Professor of Homiletics
Covenant Theological Seminary
Fall 2019 – Board appoints search committee; committee charter established and consultants chosen.
Spring 2020 – Consultants conduct stakeholder listening sessions.
Spring/Summer 2020 – Presidential Leadership Profile describing the ideal candidate and summarizing the priorities for the next president is written and posted. Open solicitation of applicants commences.
Summer 2020 – Applications accepted and reviewed. CVs of interested candidates submitted before September 1, 2020.
Early Fall 2020 – Search committee conducts preliminary interviews and selects finalists to move forward by late fall.
Late Fall 2020 – Final candidate interview rounds.
January, 2021 – Covenant Seminary Board elects president and makes public announcement.
Spring/Summer 2020 – Seminary prepares for presidential transition.
July 1, 2021 – Dr. Gibbs assumes the role of president.
May 1, 2020
From Dr. Miles Gresham, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Covenant Theological Seminary:
Dr. Mark Dalbey has been a faithful example of wise and godly leadership as President of Covenant Seminary the past eight years. His calm and humble demeanor paired with an unwavering trust in the Lord have been a source of steady strength for the denominational seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America. Now, at his request, we are beginning the search for his successor to look forward to a new chapter of God’s faithfulness for Covenant Seminary. The following is from Dr. Dalbey:
Over twenty years ago, my wife, Beth, and I followed the Lord’s call to St. Louis to serve at Covenant Theological Seminary. During this time, I have had the deep privilege of seeing the Lord equip and send out over 3,000 gospel leaders who are now serving the church across the country and around the world. I have come to realize that the seminary has the incredible privilege and opportunity to equip, send, and sustain impactful gospel leaders for God’s church and kingdom. We launch leaders who serve as pastors, church planters, counselors, missionaries, teachers, campus ministers, and a host of other callings. Over the years, I have loved this multiplying mission of the seminary as I have seen firsthand the expanding influence of graduates whose lives and ministries reach and equip so many with the saving and transforming power of the gospel. I am deeply grateful for this worldwide and generational ministry.
When I accepted the role of President of Covenant Seminary eight years ago, I told the board of trustees I would serve to the best of my ability until I was 70. I determined at that point it would be better for the seminary to look for someone younger to take over who could provide sustained leadership for the coming years. Now that I have turned 68, I have a hard time believing this time is almost here.
One year ago, I asked the board to begin a process to look for my successor. I love serving as President. I have loved stewarding this role and its engagement with so many students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and churches. I do not necessarily wish for my time here to end, though I love the future of Covenant Seminary too much to see one person go on in its leadership indefinitely.
Over the past 8 years in this role I have seen the Lord’s faithfulness on display: in his care for the mission of Covenant Seminary to equip pastors and ministry leaders for God’s church and kingdom; in his care for our alumni who are faithfully proclaiming the gospel; and in his care for the Presbyterian Church in America as we all strive to bring the gospel to the world around us. I have seen firsthand how the Lord has guided the seminary through changes, new degrees, economic challenges, and unforeseen opportunities. Sometimes it is a wearying work, as cultural change outside the church and internal strife within the church tempt us towards fear. But our God is faithful.
Through it all, the Lord has led the seminary to a wonderful place of serving the church and denomination during this critical time. There is always a cost to meaningful work, and though it has been difficult at times I count it as joy as the Lord has called Covenant Seminary to be a leader in equipping future generations of church leadership.
I expect a smooth and joyful transition to the next president as the board begins its search. Please pray for them as the mission of this place is vital for the health of our churches. In the coming months, the board will be providing additional information regarding this process and the timing of the search.
While the work of a president is not easy, it is deeply rewarding. Pray they find the man whom God has specifically called to this role for this next season. Until they do I will continue to pour my life into carrying forward the mission of Covenant Seminary and seeking to prepare the way for my successor.
I have served on the faculty and staff of Covenant Seminary for over 20 years now. In this work, I have stood on the shoulders of other faithful men who have come before me to teach a new generation of gospel leaders the inerrant and unchanging word of God, in order to “glorify the triune God by training his servants to walk in God’s grace, minister God’s word, and equip God’s people all for God’s mission.” I look forward to the coming generations of those who will do the same, even long after I retire. As our seminary hymn says, Covenant Seminary has always been, and will continue to be, “All for Jesus”.
Dr. Mark Dalbey
Dr. Dalbey will remain close with Covenant Seminary, continuing to teach courses and advising the next president to ensure a smooth transition. As the largest supplier of pastors into the PCA and beyond, this transition is vital not only for the Seminary, but for the future leadership of the church.
Please join me in thanking God for the leadership of Dr. Dalbey, and in seeking the Lord’s continued provision for the ongoing mission of Covenant Seminary.
Dr. Miles Gresham