News Articles

Midwestern selects Carrol Fowler for Nehemiah church-planting center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Making good on the seminary’s stated purpose of training students to “evangelize and congregationalize” the nation’s Great Plains/Midwest region, trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have named a recognized leader in church planting to serve as director of its Nehemiah Project.
Carrol D. Fowler, a 1973 Midwestern graduate and director of missions for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, will teach students how to do what he has made his life’s work of planting churches in Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan and Indiana.
The recruitment, training and mentoring of new church planters is the focus of the North American Mission Board’s Nehemiah Project which establishes and funds a church-planting center on each SBC seminary campus.
During the trustees’ April 12-13 meeting in Kansas City, Mo., Midwestern President Mark Coppenger said the Nehemiah Project director “must take the raw ministerial product and impart the theory, the spirit and the savvy to tackle the tough job of new church starts.” Coppenger commended Fowler’s “pacesetting work” in both Anglo and ethnic church planting, having started an average of 55 new works each of the nine years he has served in Indiana.
NAMB associate for recruitment and development David Putman recognized Fowler’s involvement with the Nehemiah Project in Indiana since its inception at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., stating, “He brings the vision, passion, experience and relationship to implement the multiple aspects of our partnership.” Putman said he expects the hiring of Fowler to intensify church-planting efforts by Southern Baptists in the Midwest.
Fowler was honored as Midwestern’s alumnus of the year in 1997. He has been nationally recognized for his denominational service in starting black churches and language missions. The SBC’s former Home Mission Board (now NAMB) named Fowler one of “50 who helped make missions happen” in a recognition of state missions leaders.
Trustees approved a capital campaign to raise $12 million for the first phase of a major campus development to include construction of new classrooms and offices for faculty and administration as well as an assembly hall and family life center.
During an April 13 breakfast meeting, capital resources director Bill Foil reported $105,718 has already been pledged by administration, faculty and staff of the seminary. All of the seminary’s full-time employees have pledged financial support to the campaign, said general chairman John Howell, senior professor of ethics. “This is a small amount of the $12 million, but it does signify enthusiasm for what has been proposed.”
Speaking as chairman of the trustees campaign, Reagan Bradford of Edmond, Okla., said, “Those of us who have been around awhile are seeing our dreams come true.” Bradford challenged trustees to reach a goal of $200,000 by June, with $144,000 already committed.
During a campus picnic April 12, trustee chairman Robert A. Lilly of Baltimore joined Coppenger in breaking ground on an outdoor amphitheater projected to be built by volunteer construction teams.
The seminary’s operating budget was approved at $4,585,185, an increase of $242,468 over the previous year. Additional funds will allow faculty salaries to be increased as well as provide funds for student mission projects. The board anticipates increases in Cooperative Program allocation as a result of a continuing rise in full-time student enrollment. Trustees also approved a small increase in housing rental rates and a $5 per credit hour tuition increase.
Registrar Stephen Prescott noted with the increase in tuition Midwestern’s rate will still be lower than any of the Southern Baptist seminaries and appeared to be the least-expensive fully accredited seminary in America based on his survey of accredited institutions.
Other newly hired faculty include Thorvald B. Madsen II as assistant professor of New Testament, ethics and philosophy and Lee Hinson as assistant professor of church music.
Madsen received his B.A. from Wheaton College, M.A. from Western Kentucky University, M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
In opening the floor up to questions of prospective faculty, academic affairs committee chairman Lewis Adkison, pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, Colo., praised a change that had taken place during his tenure to allow time for personal interviews. Prior to that time, trustees reviewed resumes of candidates without a face-to-face discussion with the full board. “I remember when they told us this wasn’t the right way to proceed,” Adkison said. “I believe this is the best way.”
Madsen responded to questions regarding the completeness of God’s revelation, spiritual disciplines, an ethical perspective of redistribution of wealth, convictions about tithing, mission involvement, evangelism and the Cooperative Program, and his sense of calling.
Hinson has served with the SBC’s Lifeway Christian Resources as small church/associational music consultant and, previously, as minister of music for churches in Texas and Mississippi. He discussed various worship styles with trustees, responding to questions about changes in technology, helping students receive practical training and recognizing a variety of cultures represented in Southern Baptist churches.
Trustees received word of the appointment of seminary registrar Stephen R. Prescott as assistant professor of church history.
In response to requests for an education degree that has practical application combined with doctoral-level training, Midwestern plans to offer a doctor of education ministry degree beginning in the fall.
Elected as new trustee officers by acclamation were Carl A. Weiser, pastor of Hyland Heights Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Va., chairman; Robert D. Collins, pastor of Plaza Heights Baptist Church, Blue Springs, Mo., vice chairman; Anthony T. Mattia, pastor of Trinity Southern Baptist Church, Wamego, Kan., second vice chairman; Gwen Newman, Winder, Ga., secretary; and Joseph Bunce, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bloomfield, N.M., as an at-large member of the executive committee.
In other action trustees:
— received a report that all notations to the seminary accreditation have been removed.
— approved a change in the seminary charter naming the SBC as the sole member of the corporation.
— clarified the makeup of the trustees’ building oversight committee to include trustees currently serving until they resign or rotate off the board, with vacancies to be filled by appointment of the board chairman.
— honored trustees whose terms will expire in June, including Lilly, Adkison and Walter G. Smith of Grand Blanc, Mich.
Trustees applauded when Bunce affirmed Coppenger’s response to Russell Dilday, president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, who predicted earlier this year Midwestern would be one of three SBC seminaries whose funding would be cut by Texas Baptists. Bunce said Coppenger “took a critical role in responding in a way that was Christlike” to the “inflammatory remarks” and “revealed more truly where our hearts are.”

    About the Author

  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter