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‘State of the Seminary,’ convocation kick off Midwestern’s academic year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will continue moving forward in training men and women to serve churches and to take the Gospel around the world, President Phil Roberts said in his fall “State of the Seminary” address Aug. 20 during the first week of classes at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.

Addressing speculation that arose during the summer that the Southern Baptist Convention-supported seminary faced closing, Roberts told the Midwestern chapel audience, “I have been guaranteed and reassured by leadership at the Executive Committee that, in fact, that is not on the table whatsoever.”

Roberts noted, “The only way that can happen is if our board of trustees vote to do so — which is a fat chance.”

Roberts reassured students that if such a motion were to happen, the Southern Baptist Convention would have to vote two successive years of annual meetings in affirmation for such a closure.

The future of Midwestern Seminary never has been better, Roberts continued.

“We have made progress with acquisition of new property and securing of additional library space,” Roberts said. The 35,000-square-foot building north of the campus will house a library annex, faculty office space and new classrooms.

He also noted the addition of two new faculty members: Robin Hadaway in missions and Rodney Harrison in North American church planting. Hadaway most recently was an International Mission Board regional leader for Western South America. Harrison, who most recently was the California Southern Baptist Convention’s new church extension associate, is the seminary’s director of the Nehemiah Church Planting program in conjunction with the North American Mission Board.

Roberts also highlighted this year’s positive results of the seminary’s accreditation approval from the North Central Association of Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools. He said student admissions are up, and the number of students taking fulltime classes has increased for two consecutive years. Plans also are underway to offer new extension sites in the Midwest.

He announced that Midwestern plans to offer a new curriculum for an associate of arts degree program by February 2004 and plans to implement a new bachelor of arts degree with a major in Christian ministries with other areas and concentrations as well.

Referring to Psalm 127:1, Roberts said, “It is the tendency to fall into thinking we can trust our own methods, we can trust our programs, our approaches, our resources without in the first instance trusting the Lord God himself.

“Without unity in the cause of Christ, without each one recognizing their unique gifts and using them and without an attempt to work together in harmony and in love and with a desire to seek the blessings of God in that spirit, all our efforts are in vain,” Roberts said.

Also addressing chapel during Midwestern’s first week of classes was Missouri Baptist Convention President Monte Shinkle, who delivered the formal convocation address Aug. 19. Shinkle, pastor of Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo., preached about the Day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts.

Following the model in Acts 2:42, Shinkle said there are four tangible elements of Christian growth. “Get in the Word of God,” he said. “Not only read the Bible, but let the Bible read you. Continue in fellowship. That means get involved in a local church. Don’t forget the Lord’s Supper; constantly examine yourself. And, learn how to pray.”

The intangible element of spiritual growth is continuing steadfastly, Shinkle said. “Continuing steadfastly means over time, through trials, with tenacity — don’t you quit. It takes years and hard trials to develop body, mind and soul properly. When God wants to make an oak tree, He takes 100 years. When He wants to make a gourd, He takes six months.”

During the formal convocation service, Thor Madsen was recognized as the interim academic dean, and John Howell was recognized as academic dean emeritus. Madsen is assistant professor of New Testament, ethics and philosophy. Howell was an ethics professor for nearly 40 years at Midwestern.
Stacey Hamby contributed to this story. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BIBLICAL REMINDER.

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  • James Streicher