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WRAP-UP: MBTS enhances origins studies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–An academic chair and institute for the study of Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian origins was approved by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees during their March 17-18 meeting in Kansas City, Mo.

The G. Richard and Judy Hastings Chair and Institute for the Study of Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian Origins will advance and encourage the academic study of the Hebrew roots, context, language and theology of Christian faith from biblical times to the present.

Hastings told the trustees, “Both Judy and I believe that Christians and our pastors or shepherds need to understand our Christian heritage as part of the Judaic background. The richness of Judaism improves our understanding of Christ and His teaching.”

MBTS President Phil Roberts noted, “The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was the greatest archaeological discovery of all time. This chair will provide vital additional resources and scholarly support to the seminary and students. Rich and Judy have wonderfully encouraged and helped Midwestern Seminary to further its commitment to biblically based education. We are immensely indebted to them for their generosity.”

Roberts, in his report to trustees titled “Quo Vadis?” based on a Polish historical novel written by Henryk Sienkiewicz, extended an invitation to the trustees to pray and think about the seminary’s future growth. Roberts explained that the term “Quo Vadis?” is Latin for “where are you going?”

Various reports to the trustees indicated positive trends at the seminary.

Midwestern’s enrollment, as measured by full-time equivalents (FTEs), increased to 461 during the 2006-07 academic year from 395 in 2005-06, up nearly 17 percent, and from 330 in 2004-05, up 40 percent.

In the business area, Anthony W. Allen, senior vice president for administration, told trustees, “We are pleased to report that we have satisfied all requirements and produced an ‘unqualified audit.’ Our institution continues to improve, our overall fiscal health is very strong and our bottom line continues to be very healthy.”

The board approved a 2008-09 budget of $7,290,760, an increase of nearly $1 million over the current year. It includes appropriations for a 10 percent salary increase — 3 percent for cost of living increases, 5 percent for merit raises and 2 percent to adjust salary deficiencies.

Trustees approved renovations of the seminary’s main classroom building, 10 apartment units and single men’s dorms to begin immediately. The board stepped forward in dramatic fashion by voting to match the $750,000 already available and pledged to complete the task of funding the renovation project.

“Our trustees boldly supported our building program, which demonstrated their love and support for Midwestern Seminary,” Roberts said. “For that we are greatly thankful.”

Marty R. Harkey, MBTS vice president of institutional advancement, challenged the trustees to make a commitment to get their churches to give to the seminary’s “Building the Future!” Capital Campaign.

“The Building the Future! Capital Campaign affords us the opportunity to build state-of-the-art facilities where distinguished faculty will oversee outstanding academic programs in theological education,” Harkey said, “This campaign is designed to equip leaders for the future and students who desire to commit their lives to the call of Christ to minister to a lost world.”

The campaign will fund further renovation and expansion of the main classroom building, library (including the Charles Haddon Spurgeon collection containing more than 6,000 volumes), new apartments and a 600-seat chapel.

The trustees’ academic development committee presented two new professors to the board for election: Daniel R. Watson as associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and Larry L. Cornine as associate professor of pastoral care and counseling.

Roberts, commenting on the faculty additions, said, “At Midwestern we are committed to helping students know, communicate, apply and practice biblical truth by providing a top-rated quality education through world-class faculty members.”

Watson, the first full-time African American hired at MBTS, has served as assistant professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary’s Southern California campus. He holds a Ph.D. in biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies and a master of philosophy degree in Hebraic and cognate studies from Hebrew Union College; a Th.M. in Old Testament language and literature from Grace Theological Seminary; and B.A. in Christian thought-biblical studies from Liberty University.

Cornine comes to MBTS with more than 25 years as a clinician at Diakonos Counseling, which he founded in 1981 in Springfield, Mo. Cornine previously worked in public education, both in the Kearney and North Kansas City, Mo., school districts, eventually becoming the principal of Kearney High School. He has been teaching as an adjunct professor for several years. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology (clinical) from Golden State University; a doctor of education from the University of Kansas; educational specialist, master and bachelor of science in education degrees from the University of Central Missouri; and a master of arts in counseling from Liberty University.

Trustees also re-elected two professors, each receiving a five-year contract: Stephen J. Andrews, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and director of Midwestern’s Morton-Seats Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Tony L. Preston, associate professor of pastoral leadership.

Trustees elected Michael Landry of Florida as chairman; James Freeman of Missouri, first vice chairman; Jay Scribner of Missouri, second vice chairman; and Judy Crain of Maryland, secretary. Gene L. Downing of Oklahoma was elected as member-at-large.

In other business, the board:

— increased the chapel attendance requirement for full-time undergraduate students from 12 to 16.

— raised tuition by $25 a credit hour for qualified SBC students to $175 (undergraduate) and $165 (master’s) and $50 a credit hour for non-SBC students to $260 (undergraduate) and $230 (master’s).

The next trustee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 20 and 21 in Kansas City.
Amelia Hendra is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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