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Slain missionaries, former president honored by Midwestern during SBC

PHOENIX (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary named William Koehn and Martha Myers as honorary alumni of the year posthumously during its alumni luncheon June 18 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Phoenix.

The slain missionaries also were remembered in a video during the seminary’s report to messengers during the Wednesday morning session.

Koehn and Myers, who attended Midwestern in the 1970s, were killed Dec. 30, 2002, when a gunman entered Baptist hospital in Jibla, Yemen, where they worked in conjunction with the International Mission Board. Myers’ pastor, Rick Evans of Delraida Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., accepted the award on behalf of the family.

“She has received several awards posthumously, but she would cherish none more than this one because you have acknowledged her calling, her ministry,” Evans said.

Former Midwestern president Mark Coppenger also was named an honorary alumnus of the year. The alumni of the year were Harry Clifton of Independence, Mo., and Roger Ellsworth of Benton, Ill. The seminary also recognized outgoing national alumni association president Jim Akins, strategy coordinator for the North American Mission Board.

More than 100 people attended the luncheon, which featured retired International Mission Board executive vice president Don Kammerdiener, who was appointed as a missionary to Latin America after graduating from Midwestern in 1962.

“We come to remember that two of our own gave their lives recently, and they symbolically say that this is what Midwestern is all about,” Kammerdiener said. “We are here to affirm that their commitment is what we are all about. Service without boundaries.”

Midwestern President Phil Roberts offered an update on the seminary, recapping some of the report he gave during the morning session. He reported that the seminary received accreditation for the next 10 years and plans are underway to establish an associate of arts degree. He also announced a “Walk of Honor” that will be a memorial sidewalk in front of the main building on the adjacent property purchased last year.

Paul Negrut, president of Emmanuel Baptist Seminary in Oradea, Romania, delivered greetings, as did Missouri House Rep. Brian Baker and Missouri Baptist Convention President Monte Shinkle, pastor of Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Mo.

Baker, who graduated in May, presented Midwestern with a framed copy of a House resolution during the seminary’s Wednesday morning report to the SBC. “The Missouri legislature wanted to express our appreciation to the Southern Baptist Convention for your support,” he said. The resolution commends Midwestern for four decades of service to Kansas City and Missouri.

Also during the morning session, New Testament and Greek professor Terry Wilder reported about a new project one class tried this spring. “God laid on my heart to have each student share the Gospel two times and write a report about it. The Gospel was shared 120 times.” Thirty made professions of faith in Christ.

“This is the kind of difference Midwestern students are making in Kansas City and around the world,” Roberts told messengers during the report.

Robert Mills is the new alumni association president. Mills is the director of missions mobilization for the Kansas/Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. He holds both a master of divinity degree and a doctor of ministry degree from Midwestern.

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  • Stacey Hamby