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Coppenger honored at MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–A former president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was honored for his service and a recently renovated building was dedicated as the seminary’s trustees concluded their fall meeting on Oct. 20.

Mark Coppenger, MBTS president from 1995-99, brought a message in chapel from Matthew 3-4 on the importance of knowing Scripture and being able to apply it.

“One of the most important things you do in seminary is learning the Word of God,” said Coppenger, now pastor of Evanston Baptist Church near Northwestern University in suburban Chicago and professor of apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“You must be prepared to quote Scripture at any time and for any circumstance,” Coppenger said. “You must know it well because the devil quotes Scripture too. He tries to use it improperly to create confusion.”

People respond when Christians are bold with their witness, Coppenger said. “We can’t shrink away from sharing the reason why we’re the way we are,” he said. “[When] we say, ‘Drop your nets and come serve Jesus,’ that’s audacious and bold. However, because of this boldness people respond to what we’re saying.”

Coppenger told the seminary audience they are part of a healing ministry, whether they know it or not. “The tough times we face are very minute compared to eternity, and when we win someone to Christ, we’re winning them to eternal health,” he said. “People ought to look at our lives and see the signs and wonders Christ has placed in us. This shows them that we serve a powerful and wonderful God. Always remember that you’re connected to a lot of power.”

Many pastors don’t understand what it truly means to be in ministry, and that, at times, it may mean having to suffer for Christ, Coppenger said.

“When we go out and witness to folks, they seem to think that all we’re after is their money,” Coppenger said. “Well, we’re not asking for money, we’re asking for their lives. When people fully surrender and commit to Christ, it may even mean suffering to include the giving of their life.

“I urge you, by the example of Christ, to be prepared to recite the Scripture and to be prepared to face the suffering for His glory. Bear it with gladness.”

Following his sermon, Coppenger was honored for his service to MBTS in a ceremony unveiling his portrait to be hung in the seminary’s library.

“During his tenure at MBTS, Mark Coppenger prepared the groundwork for many of the things that are coming to fruition here today,” said R. Philip Roberts, the seminary’s current president. “He is a dear friend and colleague who cares deeply for this school, and it is a privilege for me to unveil this portrait in tribute to the great things he’s done for Midwestern.”

The portrait of Coppenger was painted by Stephanie Addington, who is Roberts’ niece and an assistant professor of art at Truman College in Chicago. She is also a member of Coppenger’s church in Evanston.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to paint this portrait of Mark,” Addington said. “He is truly deserving of this moment, and we’re grateful to honor our dear pastor for the work he’s accomplished in his ministry.”

After the portrait ceremony, MBTS leaders and trustees dedicated the recently remodeled classroom building with a new name. In March 2008, the trustees pledged to give and to raise half the cost of the renovation project. As a result, the structure formerly known as the Faculty and Classroom Building will now be called the Trustee Classroom Building.

“Having been prospered by God and enabled by His grace and power to complete the renovation of this building, we now dedicate this Trustee Classroom Building,” Roberts said. “We’re so thankful for the commitment our trustees made in making this project a priority both with their prayers and financial support. Our students will certainly benefit from being in an excellent learning environment, and God will be glorified as these students go out and fulfill the Great Commission in their ministries.”

The renovation included technological upgrades such as smart boards, remodeled classrooms, office space and restroom facilities on the upper level. Downstairs, the LifeWay Campus Store was expanded to more than twice its previous size and student center improvements were made.
T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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