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Midwestern’s Roberts denies finance, policy allegations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Philip Roberts said he “absolutely denies” allegations of misuse of seminary funds and policy violations which have been circulated by one of the seminary’s trustees according to an Associated Baptist Press article Oct. 3.

“I am absolutely confident that none of the charges against me can or will be sustained,” Roberts said in an Oct. 4 statement to Baptist Press. “I have been in the ministry over 30 years and never have I been accused of any of the charges currently leveled at me. In my heart, I am completely at peace and know that the Lord will see any allegations against me cleared.”

A special meeting of Midwestern’s board of trustees has been called Oct. 8-9 in Kansas City to discuss allegations that Roberts used seminary funds for an overseas trip and then disciplined the seminary’s vice president of business and finance, Michael Whitehead, when he questioned the expense.

“I love this seminary, its staff, trustees and, most importantly, its students,” said Roberts, who became the seminary’s president Feb. 12 after a unanimous trustee vote in January. “I am committed under God to attempt to lead it to a bright future. I believe that God has wonderful plans for Midwestern. In some sense, all of these sudden and totally unjustified allegations are evidence to me that there are glorious and grand days ahead.”

James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, confirmed to Baptist Press Oct. 4 that he will be in attendance at the trustee meeting. Merritt is an Atlanta-area pastor.

Whitehead has been on sabbatical leave from the seminary since Sept. 24. He agreed to the leave of absence upon the recommendation of trustee chairman C.M. “Buster” Brown and vice chairman Joe Bunce. Brown is a pastor in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; Bunce, a pastor in Bloomfield, N.M.

The seminary’s other three vice presidents, Malcolm Yarnell, Michael Wilson and Alan Branch, expressed their support of Roberts. “We grieve for our president for the distractions that would remove our focus from the mission of this seminary to prepare ministers to evangelize the lost and to build churches,” the vice presidents said in a joint statement. “We look forward to fulfilling the mission of this seminary under the leadership of our president in the years to come.”

The special meeting comes just two weeks before Roberts’ presidential inauguration in conjunction with the regular trustee meeting Oct. 22-23.

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