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Midwestern trustees elect new college dean

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees elected a new dean of Midwestern Baptist College and celebrated a record fall enrollment and the largest undesignated gift in the seminary’s history during their fall meeting Oct. 21.

John Mark Yeats received a unanimous vote as the college’s new dean and as associate professor of historical theology, effective Nov. 1.

With Yeats’ election, Midwestern President Jason K. Allen said, “[W]e are positioning the undergraduate school for maximum growth.”

“One of the greatest strengths Dr. Yeats possesses is the ability to connect with college students,” Allen said, describing the new dean as “equipped to lead the college in preparing these students for future Kingdom service.”

“We need a robust undergraduate program at Midwestern,” Allen said, “and John Mark Yeats possesses the skills and experience to lead our college well into the future.”

Yeats comes to Midwestern Seminary from Fort Worth, Texas, where he has been senior pastor of Normandale Baptist Church and previously was professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Yeats holds a Ph.D. in church history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School along with degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oxford University and Criswell College. He has authored three books, “Franchising McChurch: Feeding Our Obsession with Easy Christianity”; “The Time is Come: The Rise of British Missions to the Jews, 1808-1818”; and “Worldviews: Think for Yourself about How We See God.” He also has contributed articles to multiple journals as well as the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.

Yeats said he is looking forward to his family’s move to Kansas City and to what the future holds at Midwestern Baptist College.

“As dean of the college, I look forward to grounding young men and women in the truth of Jesus Christ and in His Word,” Yeats said. “My prayer is that we train a generation of students prepared to engage the shifting tides of our culture with a missionary heart.”

Midwestern also has re-structured several administrative offices. The most visible move included reworking the existing student development and institutional advancement offices into what will now be known as the office of institutional relations. Led by Charles Smith, the current vice president of institutional advancement, the new division will oversee enrollment management, institutional advancement, communications, the Center for Church Planting and Partnering and campus culture and events.

Smith said he looks forward to new structure providing “unprecedented opportunities for our various offices to work together toward our broader enrollment and advancement goals.”

Trustees celebrated Allen’s announcement of the seminary’s record-breaking fall enrollment — a 6 percent increase in student head count, making it the largest fall class in school history.

“We clearly see this as God’s blessing and providence,” Allen said, “in that He, and Southern Baptist churches, are entrusting us with training and preparing future ministers of the Gospel.”

“We’ve had a great year,” Allen said, “but we need a great decade. As we move forward with the vision of existing for the church, and trust in our Lord’s leading, we are positioning ourselves well to do just that.”

During Allen’s presidential report, he announced that Midwestern had received the largest undesignated gift in the seminary’s history — a gift of $500,000, which coincided with the launching of the Midwestern Seminary Legacy Fund intended to defer tuition costs for students. Allen also spoke about the desire for the seminary to have an expanding ministry footprint and how the gift is a large part of that mission.

Allen noted that the donors are “godly people who have fallen in love with the vision of the school.” He added that the gift was provided in faith, as the family is new to Midwestern Seminary and had not yet been to campus.

In other news, Midwestern’s trustees:

— announced that David S. Dockery, president of Union University, would serve as the distinguished professor of theology and Baptist studies and would be teaching doctoral-level courses annually.

— approved a response to a motion referred from the Southern Baptist Convention pertaining to assisting churches with the “challenge of ministry to those suffering from mental health issues….” Trustees responded by noting, “Central to our mission is to equip students to minister to the whole person, including mental, emotional, and, especially, spiritual needs. To this end, Midwestern Seminary is pleased to offer counseling degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels…”

— approved increased security measures on campus, including 24-hour security monitoring, security gates at the north and south campus entrances and the hiring of a full-time trained security force. At night, all campus visitors now will enter solely through the main entrance, allowing for tighter security and better protection of campus families.
Tim Sweetman is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Tim Sweetman