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MBTS headcount passes 1,000 for the 1st time since founding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Student enrollment at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary broke the 1,000 mark during the 2005-06 school year for the first time since the seminary’s founding in 1957, registrar Dave Richards reported.

“We are delighted to see the wonderful ways God is blessing,” Alan Branch, vice president for student development, said.

The headcount was up 21.9 percent for the 2005-06 school year, representing an increase from 899 students to 1,096 students compared to the previous year.

Students enrolled at the Kansas City, Mo., campus accounted for 841, or 77 percent, of the total headcount. These included students in the doctoral, first professional, master’s, undergraduate and WISDOM programs. The remaining 255, or 23 percent, of the students were enrolled in extension courses in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and South Dakota.

Enrollment at Midwestern has grown steadily over the past three years. The 2005-06 headcount is up 56 percent, or 395 students, over the 2002-03 reported headcount of 701. Annual credit hours taken have increased by 57 percent over the past five years from 6,525 in 2000-01 to 10,236 in 2005-06.

The seminary concluded its record year by graduating 94 students in the May commencement.

At the beginning of the 2006 fall semester, the seminary welcomed 181 new students for an initial headcount of 704 students across all programs and including extension locations. The number represents a primary count only and does not reflect enrollment in late start courses and workshops, Richards said.

“Compared to this time one year ago, enrollment continues to experience growth with students also taking more credit hours than last year,” Richards said. “The continued enrollment growth for degree-seeking students is greatest in the bachelor of arts programs.”

Branch attributed the growth to lots of prayer, hard work, the new Koehn-Myers Center for World Evangelism, the new undergraduate program — Midwestern Baptist College -– and the seminary’s initiatives in evangelism. Branch also acknowledged the need for more housing as a result of the growth.

“Our hope is that growth at MBTS will be a catalyst for more people coming to faith in Jesus Christ,” Branch said.

The seminary’s president, R. Philip Roberts, commended his fellow leaders for their contributions to increased enrollment.

“Our staff is prayerful, supportive and hardworking,” Roberts said. “We have, as well, an excellent faculty. The spirit on campus is outstanding. All of these factors contribute to healthy growth-supporting environment. We thank the Lord for His blessings to us.”

In other Midwestern news, about 60 students and faculty gathered for prayer Sept. 6 at the seminary’s Koehn-Myers building, named for two Southern Baptist missionaries with ties to Midwestern who were killed in Yemen in 2002.

The event kicked off the seminary’s first-ever combined Missouri Baptist Day and Day of Prayer.

Roberts opened the ceremony by reading from Scripture, and then those present dispersed to pray over each bench encircling a flagpole at the building. On each bench was the name of an international missionary and the world region in which they serve.

Tracy McKee, a Midwestern student, and Robin Hadaway, associate professor of missions, led in corporate prayer closing the morning emphasis on world missions.

Later in the morning guest speaker Ralph Sawyer, president of the Missouri Baptist Convention and first vice president on Midwestern’s board of trustees, addressed the campus in chapel. Sawyer challenged students with the words on prayer from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and how they apply to the state of Missouri and Missouri Baptists.

“You are vital to what happens in our state,” Sawyer said.

America is in need of healing and Baptists in Missouri can make a difference, he said, but it must be by the power of God. Christians must pray and humbly seek God’s face rather than proudly seeking the attention of others, Sawyer added, and they must repent.

Following the message, Roberts encouraged students to pair up, share and pray for personal requests as well as the needs of the seminary.

“It’s awesome to see people with such a heart for God and prayer,” Ryan Ebersold, a student, said. “And it’s not just a one day thing. It should be every day.”

As the day came to a close the seminary gathered once again, this time to prayerwalk. The campus was divided into five sections — classrooms, housing, land for sale, administration and the Koehn-Myers Center. Those who gathered broke into five groups, and each group prayed over one of the five areas.

“Prayer must be the foundation of all we do,” Roberts said. “Without the assistance of Almighty God, all of our efforts will be futile. With His blessing all things, in His will, are possible.”
Based on a report by Rachel Waligorski.

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