Prospective students offered virtual lunches during “Meals with Midwestern”
By T. Patrick Hudson
KANSAS CITY (BP) — In the days before the new norm of lockdowns, social distancing, and other stay-at-home measures due to COVID-19, one traversing Midwestern Seminary’s Kansas City campus might notice groups of prospective students and their families touring, sitting in on classes, and enjoying a meal with the school’s faculty and staff.
Even though there’s a worldwide pandemic, God is still calling servants into ministry. To help students move forward with their plans for exploring the right location to pursue theological education, Midwestern Seminary now offers “Meals with Midwestern.”
In essence, this concept is not new, but the delivery mechanism is. For a number of years, the school has hosted Meals with Midwestern on campus and, in fact, all over the country. Administration and faculty members have joined numerous students on campus, in diners, coffee shops and restaurants to hear their stories and share the passion and vision of “For the Church” and “For the Kingdom.” Now, these interactions are conducted via livestreamed video sessions like Zoom.
President Jason Allen explained that just because COVID-19 has put on-campus visits and other face-to-face interactions on hold doesn’t mean students are placing their futures on hold.
“We at Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College are fully planning to reopen campus for this coming fall semester and beyond,” Allen said. “And students and their families need to have a way to discover what school is the best fit for their theological studies.”
Prospective students can learn more about Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College through virtual tours, interactions with faculty members and, through the Meals with Midwestern program, a free meal.
In partnership with DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats, meals will be delivered right to students’ doors. Students can sign up at https://www.mbts.edu/future-students/meals-with-midwestern/ 
Admissions director Camden Pulliam said sessions will include a relaxed conversation between a group of students, their families, and a Midwestern Seminary or Spurgeon College faculty and admissions staff person.
“What we really hope to provide is up-close dialogue with our world-class faculty at a time when this is not possible through other avenues,” Pulliam said. “On these calls, prospective students get to ask professors questions ranging from theological topics and personal questions to practical advice regarding starting seminary.”
Meals with Midwestern began April 1 and has been running daily since then.
“So far, the meals have been excellent, averaging five students per call for 20 straight days,” Pulliam said. “We have seen many applications started as a result, and we’ve also seen numerous students who had already started the application process grow in their excitement for seminary to begin.”
Jason DeRouchie, research professor of Old Testament and biblical theology, has taken part in some of the sessions. He said they have provided him an “opportunity to share my joy in being a part of the ministry of Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College and to respond to very thoughtful and engaging questions from students.”
Students who participate are really getting a chance to “savor the sweetness that is Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College,” DeRouchie said. “I am part of a remarkable team, and through these lunches, prospective students get a chance to truly see part of what makes this school a rising leader in theological education that is for Christ’s church and kingdom.”
These meals, he added, provide “one opportunity for who we are to connect with who they are, and I pray that God will use these times of sharing to draw in a new generation of leaders whom we can equip and who can effectively live for the church and for the kingdom, all for the fame of Christ’s name.”
For more information about admission to Midwestern Seminary or Spurgeon College email the Office of Admissions at [email protected] or visit www.mbts.edu.
Gateway Seminary commencement canceled for all campuses
ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) — Gateway Seminary has canceled spring commencement services, previously scheduled for May, at all five campuses.
“While we delayed making this decision as long as possible, there are still too many uncertainties in the multiple locations where we have campuses and commencement activities,” said Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary.
Spring commencement is held at each of Gateway’s campuses in Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Northern California and Southern California. Staff in each region are developing plans to recognize graduates in accordance with local COVID-19-related restrictions. Additionally, graduates have the option to participate in commencement services of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Commencement fees will be refunded to students who had already paid the seminary.
“Graduation is a significant step in a student’s education, but it actually occurs when academic requirements are met and financial accounts are finalized — not at a public ceremony.” Iorg said.
“While graduates may not walk across a stage, they will still be Gateway graduates.”