KANSAS CITY – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (MBTS) Board of Trustees affirmed a motion Oct. 19 to move forward with the building of a new 1,000-seat chapel complex on campus.
“Following months of prayer, fact-finding and discussions on how to best proceed with the project, we presented our findings to the board of trustees,” said R. Philip Roberts, MBTS president. “Thanks to our trustees’ affirmation, this vision God has placed in our hearts will now become a reality.”
The Midwestern Seminary president said the $5.6 million project, which will also include a welcome center, classroom space and corridors connecting the current administration and classroom buildings, will afford an opportunity for Midwestern to help encourage further seminary growth and to meet current needs.
Roberts noted that building the complex will alleviate crowded chapel services by adding seating capacity. He also said there will be facilities in place that enable MBTS to host conferences and workshops that in the past could have reached more people if there had been adequate space. The final roadblock he discussed was that the current library is housed in three locations around campus.
“By building the new chapel, our library would then be returned to its intended location under one roof,” Roberts explained. “We can increase the number of volumes for student use, and also properly showcase our Spurgeon Collection and Morton-Seats archaeology exhibit. We pray that the ultimate result of this expansion will be an increase in the students who desire to come to Midwestern for their theological education.”
The administration also announced that the school will join hands with Baptist Builders for Christ (BFC), an organization based in Birmingham, Ala., that networks volunteer builders to assist in church construction projects across the United States. The volunteer efforts are estimated to save nearly 40 percent of the overall cost of the undertaking.
In a presentation to the trustees given by Lawrence Corley, director of BFC, he outlined the process of how his organization operates, but he stressed his team isn’t involved to just construct a building or save groups money.
“We strive to work together with churches that have a need, and we have networks of church entities who volunteer their time, usually for a week a year, on projects just like this one,” Corley said. “However, our organization doesn’t exist just to save your group money, we’re here to help churches win people for Jesus Christ. We believe that assisting MBTS will only multiply churches to win even more people to Jesus Christ.”
It is estimated that the volunteer need for the nearly 40,000 square foot chapel complex will be around 1,500 people, and Corley said that “after just a week and no publicity for the project, we already have 400 people lined up to come to Kansas City, but we will need more.”
Roberts closed the discussion about the new chapel by emphasizing three points. “We need your prayer daily for this project,” he said. “To make all this happen will certainly be an answer to prayer. We also ask you to think about your church, your friends and anyone else who may desire to volunteer their time. We can’t have too many volunteers, and let’s all get in on the blessing of helping Midwestern complete this project. Finally, in the area of finances, our goal is 100 percent support from our trustees, faculty and staff. This shows others outside our organization that we’re truly committed to what the Lord has called us to do, and we’ll need yet further assistance so this project will be debt free.”
In other action taken by the trustees during the meeting, Ronald Huggins was elected associate professor of New Testament and Greek; David McAlpin was elected associate professor of Biblical interpretation; and Rodney Harrison was promoted to associate professor of Christian education. In other academic-related motions, the group approved the development of a 100-percent online master’s degree.
From motions raised by the Business Services Committee, the trustees approved spending $100,000 on campus housing remodels, $50,000 for information technology improvements and $150,000 for deferred maintenance.