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Midwestern Seminary reports record growth & expansion


GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–After three straight years of record-breaking student headcounts, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Philip Roberts reminded Southern Baptists of the school’s commitment “in the heartland to reach the hearts of the world.”

Delivering a report to messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, N.C., June 14, Roberts addressed student growth and campus expansion.

More than 1,000 students are expected to enroll in fall classes where they will benefit from the completion of the final phase of the Bill Koehn and Martha Myers Center for World Evangelism, honoring the legacy of the two Midwestern alumni who were martyred in 2002 while serving as Southern Baptist representatives in Yemen.

“We trust they are indeed symbolic and emblematic of all we expect and want to see in our own students,” Roberts said. The new facility will house the student center, library annex and 25 faculty offices.

In addition to expressing gratitude for a fourth year of record-breaking giving to special projects, Roberts thanked Southern Baptists for giving through the SBC Cooperative Program, which funds half of the school’s operating budget.

“Last summer we received approval for our fully accredited bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies and are on our way, according to an initial report [from accrediting agencies], for a fully approved Ph.D. by next year,” he said.


Using a video presentation, Roberts talked about “what makes Midwestern special” as students described professors who faithfully teach the Word of God, motivate evangelistic fervor among students and develop a close-knit fellowship on the 200-acre campus in Kansas City, Mo.

Former International Mission Board Executive Vice President Don Kammerdiener was among the first group of 150 students entering Midwestern Seminary when doors were opened in 1958.

While the new and adventuresome spirit of the school attracted him to the institution initially, Kammerdiener said, “It’s good to look back and see the seminary now, nearly a half century old and surely at one of our best moments in history.”

Speaking positively of the school’s direction, he said the future is promising.

“We have an administration with a world vision, trustees committed to the purposes of the seminary and that agenda, a growing student body with the world in its heart, and new resources to make possible advances into a future that we all look forward to,” Kammerdiener said.

Students who described to messengers the variety of programs offered at Midwestern Seminary included:

— Charlotte Frei of Germany who spoke of passionate teaching that provides “a deep understanding of the Word of God.”

— Philip Redmond of Missouri who said he was forced onto the streets to share his faith in Christ, becoming more conscious of a lost world around him.

— Cindy Owen of Oklahoma who studied Greek under professor Alan Tomlinson and found her understanding of Scripture greatly increased.

— Elliott Ely of Missouri who praised the easy access to teachers with “information oozing out of their heads” that caused students to “want to sit there underneath their feet and absorb as much as you can.”

— John Mills of Missouri who was drawn to the “community atmosphere of students, faculty and administrators who care about each other.”

— Jessica Cartwright of Oklahoma who gained an understanding of New Testament history and backgrounds as well as practical advice for the mission field to which she is called.

— Nathan Dawson of Missouri who realized from professor Tom Johnson “how disobedient I was in personal evangelism” and became comfortable sharing his faith in order to gain “a passion for souls.”

As both a student and teacher, volunteer student ministry director Max Barnett of Colorado related how Midwestern Seminary is bearing fruit in the evangelization of college students. He spoke of Ryan and Terra Lindsey, recently assigned to Baptist Student Ministry on a Colorado campus, as examples of Midwestern graduates willing to do hard work in unreached areas.

“This is a seminary God is greatly using just because of the location, [and the] commitment of the faculty and staff. I’m very grateful to you and Southern Baptists for providing that seminary,” Barnett told the Greensboro gathering.

“It’s not just in our evangelism classes where we encourage evangelism to be done,” Roberts noted. From a conversation with professor Terry Wilder, Roberts said he learned all of the students in his New Testament Survey class were asked to share the Gospel as a part of learning about early church practices.

“He said 176 times those students shared the Gospel, resulting in 29 professions of faith,” Roberts said of Wilder, prompting applause from the messengers.

“Thank you for your support for the life, work and witness you bear through Midwestern as well as all six Southern Baptist seminaries,” Roberts said, describing them as “the greatest seminaries in the world.”