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MBTS rededicates Spurgeon Library, fills endowed chairs at spring trustee meeting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees elected three faculty into endowed chairs, celebrated a rededication of the Spurgeon Library, and approved key institutional business items at the spring trustee meeting on campus on April 8-9.

Overlapping with Great Commission Week, the meeting underscored Midwestern Seminary’s ongoing commitment to train God-called men and women to be and make disciples of Jesus Christ.

President’s report

In his report, MBTS President Jason Allen emphasized the key concept of stewardship for Midwestern Seminary’s leaders.

Reading from 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, Allen addressed Christians’ calling to be stewards of the mysteries of God. Allen outlined the mystery of the Gospel revealed throughout Scripture, culminating in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and concluded, “Before Christ comes back, He is building His Church. We are here today as stewards of that mystery.”

Allen noted the apostle Paul’s statement that stewards must be found trustworthy. He pointed to five strategic priorities adopted by the board of trustees in October 2022 as Midwestern Seminary’s means of ensuring faithful stewardship.

The five strategic priorities are missional faithfulness, highlighted by the institution’s adherence to its confessional statements and devotion to Southern Baptist churches; student success; faculty strength; a flourishing campus community; and intergenerational stewardship.

Donald Whitney elected to faculty, two new endowed chairs

In chapel on Tuesday, Allen announced the trustees’ election of Donald S. Whitney to the faculty.

Whitney will serve as professor of biblical spirituality, fill the John H. Powell Endowed Chair of Pastoral Ministry, and lead the to-be-established Center for Biblical Spirituality at Midwestern Seminary.

The John H. Powell Endowed Chair of Pastoral Ministry was named for the Southern Baptist pastor who heroically gave his life while assisting a driver on the highway in 2020. Allen shared, “John knew, admired, and loved Don Whitney, and Don knew, admired, and loved John. It is sweet that we’re able to have Dr. Whitney seated in this chair.”

Whitney’s election to faculty highlights Midwestern Seminary’s emphasis on equipping local churches and their ministers for spiritual health.

Allen also announced the establishment of a new endowed chair, the Gene and Jo Downing Endowed Chair of Biblical Studies. Gene Downing is a former trustee of Midwestern Seminary, having served 10 years. Allen shared his gratitude for the Downings’ friendship and support of Midwestern Seminary.

The trustees elected two faculty members to endowed chairs. Patrick Schreiner, associate professor of New Testament and biblical theology and director of The Residency Ph.D. program, will fill the new Gene and Jo Downing Endowed Chair of Biblical Studies. Jason DeRouchie, research professor of Old Testament and biblical theology, will fill the Rich and Judy Hastings Endowed Chair of Old Testament.

Allen noted, “To be placed in an endowed chair is a high honor in one’s academic career. It expresses this institution’s commitment to these professors and the sense that God has called them to serve here, in these particular roles.”

Spurgeon Library rededication

After chapel on Tuesday, guests were invited to the Spurgeon Library for a special rededication and ribbon cutting. The rededication unveiled new additions to the Spurgeon Library from the Charles Spurgeon Heritage Collection, which Midwestern Seminary acquired in October 2023.

After the ribbon cutting, Allen shared the history of the Spurgeon Library. “We had a dream that God would give us resources to make this place special, a place that would be a beacon of Gospel light radiating from Kansas City. … These artifacts, books, and documents are very special not only to us, but to Christians around the world.”

Allen recognized key individuals and organizations who participated in the Heritage Collection acquisition and expansion project: the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, led by Nathan Lorick; the family of Collin Coffee, Midwestern Seminary alumnus and trustee; Bill and Connie Jenkins; Geoff Chang, curator of the Spurgeon Library; and Exhibit Associates.

Reflecting on the acquisition, Allen shared, “Under God, the Spurgeon Library as we know it would not exist without one couple in particular, Bill and Connie Jenkins. Ten years ago, they singlehandedly funded the beautiful Spurgeon Library which presently houses so much of Spurgeon’s personal library and collection. Now, a decade later, they’ve led the effort to make this new acquisition possible. Rare is the couple who have such resources and generosity, coupled with an awareness of church history and an appreciation for sound doctrine, all moving them to so generously support this acquisition.”

Chad McDonald, chairman of the board of trustees, concluded the rededication with a prayer, which was followed by a reception.

Trustee business

During their plenary session, trustees adopted a resolution of thanksgiving and appreciation honoring Charles W. Smith, Jr., senior vice president of institutional relations at Midwestern Seminary. In March, Smith was elected the sixth president of the University of Mobile in Mobile, Ala. He will assume the presidency on May 6.

During Tuesday’s chapel service, Allen announced the appointment of Camden Pulliam to senior vice president of institutional relations.

Pulliam has served Midwestern Seminary since 2013, first as director of admissions and most recently as vice president of enrollment management, in which he oversees the offices of admissions and financial aid. Pulliam’s leadership of Midwestern Seminary’s recruitment efforts has coincided with a period of record enrollment growth.

During the plenary session, Allen noted that Midwestern Seminary anticipates a headcount of approximately 5,200 students for 2023-2024, another enrollment record.

Additional trustee business included the approval of an institutional budget of $35.3 million for the upcoming year, a 6 percent increase from the previous budget of $33.3 million.

The trustees also approved a project to restore and beautify the stonework of the original main campus exterior.

Academic approvals included the elections of Donald Whitney as professor of biblical spirituality and Travis Montgomery as assistant professor of Christian studies. Reelections included Alan Branch, professor of ethics; Michael McMullen, professor of church history; and Rustin Umstattd, associate professor of theology and ministry. Trustees approved the promotions of John Lee to professor of New Testament; Sung Jin Park to professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; and Rustin Umstattd to professor of theology and ministry.

Midwestern Seminary’s Board of Trustees consists of 35 members and meets biannually in October and April.

Great Commission Week

The Spring Trustee Meeting was highlighted by a special evening of worship and a guest preacher in chapel.

On Monday, April 8, hymn writer Matt Boswell led worship at the Generations Hymn Sing, hosted in the Daniel Lee Chapel by Midwestern Seminary’s Department of Worship Ministries. Boswell was joined by Midwestern Seminary’s North Oak Collective band, the Voices of Midwestern choir, and special guest Dr. Aubrey L. “Pete” Butler. Hundreds of guests from the Midwestern Seminary community gathered to worship and fellowship at the event.

On Tuesday, April 9, Midwestern Seminary welcomed Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, to deliver the chapel sermon in recognition of Great Commission Week.

In his sermon, Chitwood preached from Romans 3 on the greatest problem facing the world – spiritual lostness. Outlining current problems such as war, global hunger, and slavery, Chitwood noted that all of these problems conclude when one dies. Yet, the greatest problem is eternal. He encouraged listeners to consider how they might follow God’s call to be part of the solution to lostness, saying, “That’s why the Lord has left us here, to take the Good News to the lost.”

To hear Chitwood’s sermon, visit mbts.edu/events/chapel.

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  • Michaela Classen