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Missions professor Lavell Seats dies after lengthy career at Midwestern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–V. Lavell Seats, 84, senior missions professor and a former missionary to Nigeria, died of heart failure March 16 at Liberty Terrace Care Center. Born Nov. 16, 1915, in Tuckerman, Ark., Seats taught missions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since the founding of the school in 1958. He had previously served as a Southern Baptist missionary to Nigeria for 17 years.

Seats also served as dean of students and registrar for the Seminary from 1958 to 1983. He was influential in guiding many students to follow his example in missionary service around the world and provided for their educational expenses through endowed scholarships. Additional endowed funds, which Seats contributed, continue to make it possible for faculty members, spouses, and students to experience overseas ministry firsthand.

Seats was also instrumental in helping international students receive training at Midwestern Seminary with the first of a long line of students following the man who had taught them at the Baptist seminary in Ogbomosho, Nigeria, where he served as president.

While in Africa, he also served as an administrator, editor, and general missionary advisor for the Nigerian Baptist Convention. During his tenure, Seats traveled throughout the continent to prepare for the 1960 Billy Graham Crusade.

Seats’ extensive collection of African artifacts was given to the seminary library where it is on display. One of the most popular exhibits is a collection of more than 35 nativity sets from around the world. As the display drew visitors throughout the Christmas season, Seats remarked, “I’ve had a very good life, and God has been good to me. I just want to share what I can with the students and others.”

Seats continued to serve as an emeritus professor until last fall when his recovering from pneumonia restricted his activity. Seats attended Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. and completed his B.A. at William Jewell College in Liberty. He received the master of theology degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the doctor of theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

His pastoral experience included First Baptist Church of Jasper, Mo., Pleasant Home Baptist Church in Butler, Mo. and Chaplin Baptist Church in Chaplin, KY.

Survivors include a son and daughter-in-law, Paige and Kaye Seats of Tucson, AZ.; a granddaughter Toni and her husband, Clell Ford of Sebring, Fla., and two great granddaughters, Erin and Lydia Ford. Dr. Seats’ wife, Betty, preceded him in death in 1980.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Missouri Baptist Foundation, 400 E. High, Jefferson City, Mo. 65101 for the Lavell and Betty Seats Scholarship at Midwestern Seminary. Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. on March 19 at Northgate Baptist Church, 800 N.E. Vivion Road. The funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 20, at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 5001 N. Oak Tfwy. Burial is at Floral Hills Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo.

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  • Tammi Reed Ledbetter