COCHRANE, Alberta (BP)–The Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary celebrated the conclusion of its 15th anniversary with the graduation of eight students on May 11, including the first three students to be awarded the new bachelor of Christian ministry degree.
Founded in 1987, the Canadian Seminary is the only theological school of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. The small convention of 163 churches nationwide is currently endeavoring to plant 1,000 churches across Canada by 2020. Only seven percent of Canadians belong to any evangelical church.
“We have seen God’s hand at work mightily in the seminary’s first 15 years,” said Richard Blackaby, president of the seminary. “Looking ahead, we see an unusual movement of His Spirit. At a time when most seminaries in Canada are in plateau or declining, we are anticipating a 50 percent increase in enrollment this fall. Only God could do something like that.”
“We have come a long way in a short time,” said Mike McGough in his commencement address. McGough, professor of preaching and pastoral ministry, was one of the first two original faculty members and has taught almost every student who has studied at the seminary in his 15-year tenure.
McGough recalled the early days of the seminary when classes were held in a maintenance building on the bald, wind-swept prairie hill near Calgary. Twenty students made up that original class. “Our first pulpit was an overturned trash can,” he reminisced.
The seminary was started with the help of the International Mission Board, who provided faculty and most of the funds for the purchase of the 144-acre seminary property facing the Canadian Rockies. Presently, five of the six full-time faculty members are IMB appointments. The North American Mission Board through the Nehemiah Project provided the sixth.
The seminary is funded by faculty appointments through the mission entities, the Canadian Cooperative Program and matching funds from NAMB. About 40 percent of the seminary’s operating budget must be raised each year through gifts from mission-minded churches and individuals.
All the seminary buildings have been built with mainly Southern Baptist volunteers from more than a dozen states. The most significant project was the construction of the current academic building. In 1995-96, Texas Baptist Men raised $1 million and provided more than 300 volunteers.
Eighteen new student apartments are being built this summer to accommodate the record incoming class. Approximately $350,000 of the $1.75 million needed for the project has been raised so far.
“We have no choice but to build,” noted Blackaby. “The Lord of the Harvest is calling out laborers and many of those laborers have no place to live.”
Two Americans were among those receiving Master of Divinity degrees. Todd Jones, of Ashdown, Ark., is now serving as minister of youth at First Baptist, Ashdown, Ark.
Todd Lynn joined the seminary after he learned of it while prayer walking from Alaska to his native South Carolina. He is presently ministering in Juneau, Alaska. Both men are preparing for appointment through the International Mission Board. The seminary now has 80 alumni serving across Canada and around the world. Seventy students are currently enrolled.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SEMINARY GRADUATES.