WACO, Texas (BP)–Representatives from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary were left wondering why no one bothered to tell them Seminary Day at Baylor University had been canceled until after they had arrived in Waco, Texas.
Larry Brumley, the university’s associate vice president for communications, told Baptist Press the decision to cancel Seminary Day was made the day before the scheduled event.
“It is short notice,” Brumley said, “but again, there was a feeling to postpone it rather than try and stage Seminary Day, given the environment we are dealing with.”
The “environment” is a pending proposal to nearly defund Southwestern, based in Fort Worth, Southern Seminary and the other four Southern Baptist seminaries and divert funds to three theological entities in Texas. The proposal was recommended by a BGCT theological education study committee which included three leaders of the Texas branch of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an organization founded in opposition to the Southern Baptist Convention.
The proposed funding shift will aid Baylor, which currently is in the midst of a $1 billion fund-raising/endowment campaign, and Hardin-Simmons University, which have enrollments of 247 and 82 students, respectively, in their theological schools, and the Hispanic Baptist Theological School, with about 200 students. SBC seminary enrollment exceeds 12,000, including more than 4,000 at Southwestern.
Seminary Day is an annual event sponsored by Baylor’s religion department. However, Brumley would not say who ordered the cancellation of the event. He said the university was not pressured by the Baptist General Convention of Texas to pull the plug.
The university’s board of regents adopted a resolution of support in late September for the BGCT and urged Texas Baptists to support proposals to redirect funds away from the SBC seminaries and toward BGCT-related schools.
“I think the more appropriate term to use here is postponement,” Brumley said. “It didn’t seem like a good time to have Seminary Day with the BGCT coming up at the end of the month. Rather than have the distraction of that, we decided to postpone it to a later date.”
Brumley said a makeup date hasn’t been determined. And Southern Baptist seminaries may not receive an invitation back to Baylor. “It’s my sense that they have not made a decision about the rescheduled date or what the configuration of Seminary Day will be,” he said.
“The concern was for the student,” Brumley said. “And the environment that would exist with the tension in the air.”
Brumley said he did not know why organizers waited until the day before Seminary Day to cancel the event. However, all seminary officials who incurred travel costs will be reimbursed, he said.