Midwestern Seminary has a vibrant future
Dr. Phil Roberts
August 12, 2003
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
Mark Twain June 1, 1897
Twain had been isolated and living in London for some time when rumors circulated that he was ill and perhaps even dead. On being located by a young London reporter, the great sage and humorist of Missouri made the above comment or at least something akin to it.
As president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I know something of how he must have felt. A rumor has been circulating for some days that the Southern Baptist Convention agency located in Kansas City (see APB press release, "Midwestern, Golden Gate seminaries safe now, but changes still loom," July 22, 2003), is closed or is closing! Believe me; nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact the campus is humming with activity as we move through one of our busiest summers ever. Let me tell you a few of the great and good things the Lord is currently doing and has done in the last year at Midwestern:
Last November we were reaffirmed without notations for ten years by our two accrediting agencies, NCS and ATS. This was a singular accomplishment and the best accreditation review in our history.
In March 2002, the seminary purchased 24 acres of adjacent land from Farmland, Inc., including a 34,000-square-foot building on the property. This acquisition is the first addition to library, classrooms, faculty and administration offices in 45 years.
In December 2002 we completed paperwork on the largest gift given to MBTS, the building and property of Covenant Baptist Church, Kansas City. This gift is a property valued between $600,000 and $2 million.
This summer we have actualized the hiring of two fabulous faculty members Robin Hadaway for missions, currently regional leader for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in eastern Latin America; and Rodney Harrison of California as our Nehemiah church planter professor. Rodney has an extraordinary record as a successful church planter. Robin is a known and proven missions leader.
We’ve been blessed by two years of consecutive FTE increases which pushes us close to the 300 mark. We are excited as well about the opening of extensions at Hannibal-LaGrange College, Southwest Baptist University and in Milwaukee, Wis.
Organization for associate of arts and bachelor of arts degree programs is underway. By February 2004 MBTS will be offering a fully accredited associate of arts degree in Christian ministry, music and education. By fall 2004 it is very possible that we’ll be upgrading the program to a bachelor of arts degree.
The reviewed mobilization of students for missions and evangelism. Our Midwestern evangelism teams have fanned out across Kansas City and the Midwest. One student, Loren Phippen, comments that since the fall of 2001 he has led 50 people to Christ. These were the first soul-winning opportunities he had ever experienced in his 45-plus years of life. See the Baptist Press report ("Team effort fuels vigor for witnessing among Midwestern students, local churches," July 16, 2003) for more details.
At MBTS there is an outstanding faculty committed to the teaching of Christian truth as explicated in the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message and which believes that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible and inerrant word.
Very soon there may be a formal announcement of plans to begin construction this fall on three new dormitories and the renovation of our singles dorm.
Sounds like a dead seminary? Hardly!
Let me say that three representatives of the SBC Executive Committee did visit with me along with two of your SBC trustees in Kansas City to discuss our openness to a "change of status" for the MBTS campus. Those talks were quickly concluded with a clear affirmation of MBTS’ mission and goals. We are thankful for this development. Let me say that all these talks were carried out in a Christlike spirit and manner with the correct conclusion produced! MBTS is alive and well in Kansas City. Our plans are to be here until Jesus comes back. We desire to help, encourage and work side-by-side with Missouri Baptists to evangelize this state and to take the Gospel to the ends of the world.
Now Missouri Baptists what about you?! What can you do to help and encourage YOUR seminary in Kansas City? Allow me to suggest several things:
Pray. Put MBTS on your prayer list and intercede for us regularly. Unless the God of heaven blesses this ministry nothing productive will ever be accomplished. Remember that "Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it" (Psalm 127:1 NASB).
Visit. Have you ever been on the fabulously beautiful campus at Vivion and North Oak Trafficway? Plan on stopping by for a visit. Join us for a chapel on Tuesday or Wednesday during the semester. Encourage prospective seminary students to come and see us. You can also visit us on our website at www.mbts.edu. Pray for us as you do.
Give. Thank you for your gracious and generous giving through the Cooperative Program. The Cooperative Program is the greatest concept the world has ever known for giving together to accomplish the Great Commission. It is our life line. Keep it up please! As well you might think about a special gift to the renovation of our new north campus facility or to our annual fund.
Encourage. Let us hear from you and tell us that you’re praying for us. We will be delighted to put you on our mailing list and would love to count you among our friends. Whenever you are in our neighborhood please let me know. I would value the opportunity to meet and pray with you! (Dr. Phil Roberts is president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.)