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TRUSTEES: MBTS enrollment, doctrine base strengthened

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated strong enrollment growth, strengthened the institution’s doctrinal statements and toured the campus construction and renovation project currently in progress during their April 13-14 meeting at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.

The trustees also elected new board officers, re-elected and promoted faculty members, and approved revisions to the seminary’s faculty handbook and trustee policy manual.

During his president’s report, Jason Allen referenced an article by Midwestern’s accreditor, the Association of Theological Schools, that listed MBTS as one of the fastest growing seminaries in North America.

“The closer one evaluates this ATS report, the better the news gets for Midwestern Seminary,” Allen said of the recent ATS article. “Among seminaries with enrollments totaling 500 or more students, Midwestern Seminary is recognized as the fastest growing institution in North America.

“While the ATS report is quite encouraging,” Allen, “it only tells half the story. Our growth has managed to accelerate during our current academic year at a clip that is absolutely unprecedented, far surpassing even the robust growth we’ve experienced the past couple years.”

Admissions statistics show the seminary’s headcount and course hours sold for Spring 2015 as growing by nearly 20 percent over the previous year. Additionally, Spring 2015 admissions were up 37 percent from Spring 2014.

“Under God’s kind providence, our growth has been a team effort, with our Enrollment Management Office leading the way, and with everyone else here leaning into the effort with them,” Allen said. “We’ve been able to build an institutional culture where every employee — faculty, administration and staff — has bought into our vision of existing ‘For the Church’ and are giving their very best efforts to this end. For all of this, I am so very grateful to God.”

In revising Midwestern’s faculty handbook and trustee policy manual, a significant emphasis was placed on strengthening the seminary’s doctrinal statements.

“One of the primary focuses of revising two of our school’s key guiding documents was to emphasize mission clarity,” Allen said. “As an entity which belongs to Southern Baptists, we unashamedly and unreservedly adhere to following the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”

Additional documents found within the manuals are the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Midwestern’s own statement on Sex, Sexuality, and Gender Identity.

“These statements and policy function ongoingly as accompanying and complementing documents to the BF&M 2000,” Allen said, “and like the BF&M 2000, they function as instruments of confessional accountability to the churches of the SBC, thus requiring faculty and instructional staff to believe and teach in accordance with and not contrary to them.

At a time when “so many entities and institutions in North America are negotiating away their convictions or projecting intentional ambiguity on the great doctrinal and moral issues of our generation,” Allen said Midwestern Seminary is “pleased to sound a certain and clear note. Every onlooker knows who we are, why we exist, and where we stand on these issues.”

Following the meeting’s main work session, Allen led the trustees on a tour of the site where the Charles Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching construction and administrative wing renovation are underway.

Allen said he has been extremely pleased with the contractor, Pearce Construction, and that the project is progressing on schedule toward a June 1 completion date.

Plans for the construction project were announced during the board meeting on Oct. 21 of last year, and work began in late January. In making the announcement, Allen said the Spurgeon Library — which consists of more than 6,000 books and hundreds of artifacts, letters and assorted materials — will be leveraged to serve the church and academia by preserving the personal library of Charles Haddon Spurgeon and fostering a deeper appreciation of his life, legacy, theology, and preaching.

A dedication celebration for the Spurgeon Center and administrative wing is scheduled for the October trustee meeting.

Trustees elected new officers for the 2015-16 year during their April meeting, with Dwight Blankenship, pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in St. Louis, to serve as chairman; Ken Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kearney, Mo., first vice chairman; Bill Bowyer, pastor of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., second vice chairman; and Ben Character, an educator from Oxford, Ala., secretary.

In additional business, trustees re-elected three faculty: Alan Branch as professor Christian ethics; Michael McMullen, professor of church history; and Robert Matz, assistant director of online studies and institutional effectiveness and instructor of Christian studies. Additionally, Rodney Harrison was promoted to professor of Christian Education.

Midwestern’s board of trustees consists of 35 members and meets twice each year, in October and April.

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  • T. Patrick Hudson