KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees and administrators broke ground Oct. 21 for a “Walk of Honor” on the site of the former Farmland, Inc., property acquired adjacent to the Kansas City campus. The groundbreaking ceremony for the walkway with donor-purchased bricks capped off Midwestern trustees’ Oct. 20-21 meeting and signaled the launch of Midwestern’s $2.1 million capital campaign: “The Vision: Growing Disciples Today To Make Disciples Tomorrow.”
“Today marks a vital step in the development of Midwestern Seminary,” President Phil Roberts said. “As we consider the marvelous opportunity to memorialize those who have contributed to our lives in the service of Christ [on the Walk of Honor], let’s also honor them by being faithful with the opportunity to advance Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
The campaign includes at least nine different ways, including the Walk of Home, by which alumni and friends of the seminary can support the renovation of the 35,000-square-foot Farmland facility purchased in March 2002. The campaign includes a memorial fund for former Midwestern students Dr. Martha Myers and William Koehn, International Mission Board missionaries who were killed last December while serving at the Baptist hospital in Yemen. More than $500,000 already has been raised.
In Roberts’ report to the trustees, he introduced the new vice president for business services and a fundraising consultant. Dr. N.S.R.K. Samuel Ravi will begin Nov. 17 as Midwestern’s new business vice president. Ravi is an interfaith evangelism associate with the North American Mission Board and has several years of experience in management, sales and personnel. Jim Sells, president emeritus of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., will work with the seminary on a part-time consulting basis.
“Both of these men bring expertise to Midwestern,” Roberts said. “Dr. Sells is noted as one of Southern Baptists’ most effective developers, having led SBU for over 20 years. His legacy there is legendary. We are thrilled to have him as a part of the MBTS team.
“Dr. N.S.R.K. Ravi is a Southern Baptist treasure,” Roberts continued. “From a Hindu background, he brings a remarkable testimony of faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. His business and management skills are extraordinary. Having known Dr. Ravi for the better part of a decade, I can say that he is a man of impeccable integrity and dedication to our Lord.”
Trustees also unanimously elected two new faculty members — Robin Hadaway in missions and Rodney Harrison in church planting — to five-year contracts and approved the promotion of two others.
Trustees received a report on Midwestern’s new accredited associate’s degree program, which will begin with the spring 2004 semester. The program replaces the seminary’s diploma program, aimed at students age 25 and over without a bachelor’s degree. Program director Stephen Andrews, Midwestern’s professor of Old Testament and archaeology, said an associate of divinity degree would be offered as well as associate of arts degrees in three concentrations: biblical studies, Christian education and music.
“We will use seminary faculty and adjuncts, but they will teach from an introductory and foundational perspective,” Andrews said.
Trustees unanimously approved a motion to pursue the feasibility of establishing a bachelor’s degree program. Three other Southern Baptist seminaries already have undergraduate schools.
The trustees’ land usage committee reported on the proposed new student housing development on campus, which includes the construction of 24 apartment units and the renovation of the singles’ dorm. The proposed method of financing will be through a bond issue. The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee will review the proposal during its February 2004 meeting.
“The beauty of this is that we get professional, fast, thorough work,” trustee Gene Downing of Oklahoma City said. “We get what we want, when we want, at a price we can afford. It’s a rare win-win situation.”
Auditor John Parrish of Keller & Owens said Midwestern has received a clean report for the 2002-03 fiscal year. He said income was solid with increased revenue from tuition and fees, although investment income was down, reflecting the stock market’s downturn.
Charlie Warren, interim vice president for business services, reported that Midwestern has overhauled its computer network system to increase performance, speed and reliability and to provide backup services. He also said the school has begun to offer Internet access to a test group of students, with a goal of providing such service to all student housing.
Trustee Ken Barnett of Denver made a motion to change Midwestern’s bylaws regarding the president’s job description. Currently, the president is authorized to employ and dismiss vice presidents and other administrative staff at his “sole discretion.” Barnett proposed to add “in consultation with the (MBTS) executive committee within constraints of the budget.” The motion will be reviewed by Midwestern trustees’ executive committee.
Warren said the seminary is considering selling some of its undeveloped property, and in action taken after an executive session, trustees voted, with one dissention, to authorize Roberts, in consultation with the trustees’ executive committee, to negotiate any sale of land.
The trustees’ next meeting will be in March 2004.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: DIGGING IN.