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`Vision New Orleans’ committee announcement slated mid-March

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–One of the most pivotal deliberations in the history of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary will take place March 10-11 during the annual spring meeting of the NOBTS board of trustees when members hear and vote on the recommendation from the “Vision New Orleans” committee as to whether the seminary should move or remain on the current property.
“Our March trustee meeting will be historic,” said Chuck Kelley, seminary president. “I believe God will use it to set our course for the future.”
Kelley established the ad hoc committee in March 1996, his first trustee meeting as seminary president, in an effort to “attack the issue of relocation,” he said. Trustees elected him president Feb. 23, 1996.
Initial discussions on moving or staying began about two years before Kelley’s election, during the presidential term of Landrum Leavell, who retired in December 1995. At the time, the seminary recently had been given a sizeable piece of property outside New Orleans and local groups were considering purchase of the existing campus.
Prior to his election and following, “As I met with trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, pastors and other people from New Orleans, the one question that everyone asked was, ‘Is the seminary going to move?'” Kelley said.
“Although we were not planning to move, we did not have the luxury of avoiding that question. We needed to put the seminary in a position to be able to make the best decision when the time would come, whenever that may be.”
The committee, chaired by trustee Davis Cooper, pastor of University Hills Baptist Church in Denver, was instructed to take two years to study whether it would be feasible to remain at the present location.
“I did not want the seminary to have to face a single choice,” when the time came to have to make a choice, Kelley said. “I wanted us to be prepared and informed, ahead of time.”
“There was a feeling (in 1996) that we were being forced to move,” Cooper said, in reference to offers from local groups, as well as reports of termite damage and safety issues.
“But no one had never investigated all of the factors,” he said. “We needed to begin dealing with hard evidence, not feelings.”
The Vision New Orleans committee is composed of a cross-section of the seminary family, Cooper said: six trustees, four faculty members, two Foundation Board members and one student.
“Committee members also represent different perspectives — ministry and business — from different parts of the country, some without seminary degrees, some who lived on campus as seminary students,” Cooper said.
“Through our study and research,” he said, “there has been a real desire to see whatever needed to be done, done.”
Committee members have been organized in three workgroups:
— The first group surveyed a broad group of the seminary constituency: faculty, staff, current main campus students, current extension center students, spouses of students, prospective students and alumni.
— The second group studied the feasibility and costs of moving versus staying.
— The third group surveyed community demographics and the suitability of the neighborhood for a seminary.
The committee has completed its work on time, Kelley said, and will make its recommendation to the trustees’ regularly scheduled March meeting. A decision on the recommendation is expected to follow on the same day.

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  • Debbie Moore