NASHVILLE (BP) — I am aware that very few people in our Convention actually follow the denominational calendar to any great degree. However, on my personal blog (http://frankpage.org/) from time to time I will mention some things that are actually on that calendar. Last week I wrote about SBC Seminaries Sunday which was listed on the denominational calendar for April 7.
I think most people know that we have six Southern Baptist seminaries that receive funding through the Cooperative Program. They are as follows:
— Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, Mill Valley, Calif., Jeff Iorg, president
— Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo., Jason Allen, president.
— New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, La., Chuck Kelley, president.
— Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., Danny Akin, president.
— Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., Al Mohler, president.
— Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, Paige Patterson, president.
I ask that you pray for the presidents of these institutions. Did you know that we currently have approximately 16,000 students enrolled in some type of curriculum in our seminaries? That is an astounding statistic. In fact, never in human history have that many students studied for ministry under one evangelical denominational banner. These presidents have huge responsibilities in administering six of the largest theological seminaries in America.
I ask you to pray for the students enrolled in these programs. Many of these students will be pastors. Some will be church planters. Others will go into mission work, whether on the international field or on the North American continent. Some will be staff members or other denominational workers. Pray that these seminary students will discern God’s call clearly and follow it totally.
Pray for these schools as they find themselves in the midst of challenging economic days. While we heavily support the seminaries with Cooperative Program contributions, it serves as only one funding stream for these schools. The schools are also heavily dependent on the tuition of students. It is my hope, goal and prayer that we can increase our support of Cooperative Program ministries and therefore increase support of these seminaries and eventually lower the cost of seminary education. Why do I hope for this?
It is my prayer that students be able to graduate from school without cumbersome debt. I ask you to join me in that prayer. This will enable them to go on the mission field without a heavy financial burden. In fact, our International Mission Board requires missionary candidates to be debt-free because they have learned of the problems debt causes.
It is my prayer that students can provide leadership for all size churches without burdensome debt. This allows them to go wherever God might lead and not have to always consider financial considerations as paramount.
I am serious in my desire to see Cooperative Program ministry supported at a higher level — not so that the Cooperative Program will succeed, but so that specific ministries can be supported, such as the ministry of our seminaries. Our newest seminary president wrote this week, “As president of Midwestern Seminary, I have little desire to sustain a denomination’s machinery. I have even less desire to be or become a denominational bureaucrat. These things did not beckon me to Kansas City, nor will they keep me here. I do, however, desire to propel forward the kingdom of Christ by training pastors, ministers, and missionaries to strengthen his church and advance his Great Commission. This is exactly what the Cooperative Program is about.”
He is exactly right. The Cooperative Program is about one thing only — fueling the missions and ministries Southern Baptists believe in! Sunday was SBC Seminaries Day. Let us not let it be a day on a dusty denominational calendar that came and went with little notice or fanfare. Rather, let us pray for — and support — these wonderful ministries provided for by our beloved Convention. And if you know a seminary student and his or her family or a seminary professor or staff member, why not pause right now and lift them in prayer?
Frank S. Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. Initial articles about the Call to Prayer that Frank Page issued to Southern Baptists for 2013 can be read here and here. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).