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Northeastern Baptist school to cease operations next year

WHITE MARSH, Md. (BP)–The Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry board of directors has decided to cease its operations, effective June 30, 2000, disrupting a 20-year dream of Baptist leaders in the Northeast for a regional approach to theological education and ministry training.
“The current realities and our experiences during the last two years suggest that desired results have been realized too slowly,” Ina York, NeBSM board chair, said in a Nov. 5 announcement.
“Many significant accomplishments have been counted, but the board concluded that a nontraditional institution does not seem feasible at this time,” she said. “A lack of finances and the challenge of coordinating contextualized theological education and ministry training over a vast, 11-state region made the decision inevitable.”
The board acted to disband the current organization to allow for a more individualized approach by each state convention. At the same time, the board affirmed the continued need for theological education, ministry training and mentoring of young leaders. “The kingdom of God in the Northeast has benefited from the existence of NeBSM,” York said. “Our purpose will live on and I hope it will now continue at a local level” as part of the state conventions’ educational strategies.
Despite a major gift, the sacrificial support of several churches that contributed to NeBSM’s work and the continuing financial partnership of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, the founding state conventions “did not fully embrace the NeBSM vision” as an integral part of their education-delivery mandates, York explained.
Southern Baptist leaders started the Northeast Task Team for Theological Education some 20 years ago as a mission strategy to reach people for Christ. Later called the Northeastern Baptist Education Consortium, the partnership continued to experience modest growth, but did not gain a widespread movement toward its initiatives.
Currently, NeBSM has registered 264 learners in its programs of study. This includes 190 master’s-level theological education students enrolled in centers through a partnership with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
In addition, the Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry offered courses, seminars and other learning experiences in various settings this fall to 57 students who sought practical training but not a degree. Another 17 young leaders are being motivated for a life of productive ministry through NeBSM’s Quest program.
Despite the notice of dissolution, NeBSM leaders count many accomplishments for which they thank God, not the least of which is 52 graduates through Southern Seminary. Several graduates serve in key posts today, including a seminary professor, a state convention leader and two denominational employees. NeBSM leaders plan to schedule a celebration of those and other milestones sometime before June 30.
The current NeBSM partners are the Baptist conventions of New England, New York, Pennsylvania-South Jersey and Maryland-Delaware. The partnership also includes the Southern Seminary, the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Seminary Extension and Georgetown (Ky.) College.
The school’s executive director is David Flumbaum.