March 11, 2003
Decision comes in wake of state convention conflict
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Midwestern Seminary trustees voted unanimously March 10 to remove about $877,000 in funds from the Missouri Baptist Foundation. The funds will be invested through the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.
"We are convinced the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma is committed to be an integral, responsible part of the fellowship of Southern Baptists," Midwestern Seminary President Phil Roberts said. "They have a vital and acceptable relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. This makes the partnership workable for Midwestern and satisfies our bylaws."
Midwestern’s bylaws state that seminary funds must be invested through a Southern Baptist foundation. No state foundation is directly affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but trustees determined that foundations affiliated with state conventions in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention were eligible to receive Midwestern’s funds.
Trustees voted last October to pursue removal of seminary funds from the Missouri Baptist Foundation because it is one of five agencies in the Missouri Baptist Convention whose boards voted to go self-perpetuating. As a result, the MBC filed a lawsuit to recover control of the agencies, which includes the foundation. That lawsuit still is pending.
Midwestern Seminary trustee David Tolliver, pastor of First Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, Mo., said the seminary did not need to wait for the outcome of the lawsuit to determine whether to remove funds.
"It would take too long, perhaps more than a year," Tolliver said. "It’s the principle. The Missouri Baptist Foundation felt they should go self-perpetuating and didn’t wait to go before the convention for approval, so why should we wait? The Missouri Baptist Foundation is not part of the Southern Baptist Convention through an affiliation with the Missouri Baptist Convention, and by our bylaws, we have to have our funds invested in an SBC entity. We are making a clear statement."
Trustees left open the possibility of moving seminary funds back to the Missouri Baptist Foundation if it becomes affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention again. The seminary will incur an estimated cost of $1,800 to transfer the funds. Robert Kellogg, president of the Oklahoma foundation, presented information about the foundation’s investments to trustees during its regular spring meeting March 10-11 at the Embassy Suites in Kansas City.
In other business, trustees:
- Approved a $4.8 million budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year. That’s about $100,000 less than the budget approved at last year’s spring meeting. Budget cuts reflected a 2.14 percent decrease overall for 2003-04. Cuts came as a result of a decrease in monies received from the Cooperative Program and other sources.
- Heard a report that the current year’s budget has been decreased by 3.66 percent.
- Approved the implementation of an Associate of Arts degree. The two-year degree program is scheduled to begin this fall with start-up costs of about $95,000. Stephen J. Andrews, professor of Old Testament, Hebrew and Archaeology for Midwestern, will direct the undergraduate program, which will include visiting teachers (adjuncts). The AA degree will replace the current diploma studies program, which has experienced declining numbers in recent years.
- Raised tuition by $10 per credit hour and raised rent for campus housing by 5 percent, effective Aug. 1. Increased matriculation fee from $25 to $75.
- Heard from the president that the seminary had a positive accreditation report without any notations of items that must be improved upon. The seminary recently completed its accreditation process that is due every 10 years. This marks the first time in Midwestern’s history that accreditation was given without any notations. The seminary is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the Association of Theological Schools.
- Approved re-election of three faculty members: Gary Smith, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; Stephen Andrews, professor of Old Testament, Hebrew and archaeology; and approved promotion of Alan Tomlinson to associate professor of New Testament and Greek. Approved reappointments of Alan Branch, assistant professor of Christian ethics; Radu Gheorghita, scholar in residence; Cherry Stucky, instructor of childhood education; and David Richards, instructor of Christian education. Approved fall sabbatical for Terry Wilder, associate professor of New Testament and Greek.
- Heard report that Roberts is exploring an exchange student program with Emmanuel Baptist Seminary in Oradea, Romania.
- Approved faculty handbook changes, including one that requires faculty to be members of Southern Baptist churches. All current faculty members belong to one, but previously, it was not a requirement.
- Re-elected Dan Eddington, pastor of First Baptist Church, Carson City, Nev., as chairman; James Fisher Jr., pastor of Sage Avenue Baptist Church, Mobile, Ala., as first vice chairman; David Tolliver as second vice chairman; and Bill Robertson Jr., pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Winnsboro, La., as member at-large.
The next trustees’ meeting is Oct. 20-21 in Kansas City.