Missouri Baptist College trustees ignore a student’s plea
March 30, 2004
“A place where the student’s voice is heard.”
My ears perked up as I listened to those words spoken by Alton Lacy, president of Missouri Baptist College . I was in the board room attending the trustees meeting when Lacy made that statement while delivering the president’s address. Let me tell you why that statement caught my attention.
I was a second-year student enjoying my studies, my professors and my classmates. Nothing was inhibiting me from experiencing the joys of Christian higher-education. Then came the news that my school was attempting to sever its umbilical cord of denominational accountability with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). Concerned, as a student and a Missouri Baptist as to what was happening, I obtained a copy of the school’s official charter and read for myself the relevant sections. Upon doing so, I became fervent in my desire to let other students know what was happening.
I and a group of concerned students began to circulate a petition with the goal of informing the board of trustees our concerns. We submitted the petition — with more than 100 signatures through the proper channel of communication for students wanting to make their concerns known to the trustees. Our concerns never arrived for the board to see.
Unable to make our voices heard by the conventional means, we decided to approach the board directly at their upcoming meeting. Now we arrive back at the beginning of my short story. We arrived with our signed petition and a letter addressed to every individual member of the board with the intent of making our voices heard. During the course of the meeting, it was proposed by a trustee that we be allowed to address the board. The proposal was voted down with little or no discussion. That is why my ears perked up when I heard the president speak of my school as a place where the students’ voice was heard. Were my ears playing tricks on me, or did I really just hear him say that? My voice was not heard, my two classmates with me were not heard, and the 100-plus concerned people whom I represented were not heard. Words mean nothing when actions deny them.
But I am not writing with the hope that the trustees will hear my voice and apologize for their deception. Multiple voices have blown the whistle on the misleading actions of the administration and trustees at Missouri Baptist, and I have nothing new to add to that discussion. I am writing in the hope that other Missouri Baptists will hear my voice.
I am now a graduate and no longer a member of the student body, but I am still a member of that great body – the church of our Lord Jesus Christ — with whom the task belongs in holding Missouri Baptist College accountable. It was the churches of the MBC that estab-lished those halls of learning in suburban St. Louis . It was for the purpose of glorifying the God who saves sinners and delivers a life of eternal joy that Missouri Baptists nurtured those halls through rough times and difficult years. It is my purpose now to encourage Missouri Baptists to continually hold this institution accountable. As a former student, I can affirm the poten-tial of Missouri Baptist College . I affirm the strength of some of her professors, but also the wrongness of her administration’s position in its fight with the MBC.
I compliment Missouri Baptists for the stand they have taken against the illegal action by the trustees. Just as the preservation of freedom comes by perpetual vigilance, so does the orthodoxy of the church and her mission. We must be vigilant in standing for what we know to be right. (Ben Hedrick is a graduate student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. )