By Pat Hudson
KANSAS CITY – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) leaders are in the midst of planning one of the largest projects in school history.
A new chapel complex that will include a welcome center, increase capacity to over 1,000 seats, connect current administration and classroom buildings, and create additional classroom space was approved by the school’s trustees in October.
An integral aspect of the planning phase includes enlisting a large volunteer effort to offset costs associated with the venture. It is estimated that the volunteer need for the nearly 40,000-square-foot chapel complex will be more than 1,500 people.
“To accomplish the construction during this extensive undertaking, we’re going to need the assistance and support of as many volunteers as we can get,” said Phil Roberts, MBTS president. “It doesn’t matter what level of skill is possessed, we’re looking for churches and individuals from across the Southern Baptist Convention who are willing to commit their time and energy into making this project a reality.”
Another key element in highlighting Midwestern’s dedication to seeking volunteer labor for the chapel project is teaming up with Builders for Christ (BFC), a group based in Birmingham, Ala. According to its leadership, BFC is a network of volunteer teams who assist Southern Baptists with building churches in locations that appear to be in significant need of evangelism.
“Through our network of construction missionaries, we will provide a number of skilled laborers to lead volunteers from all walks of life in accomplishing the task of building this new chapel complex at MBTS,” said Lawrence Corley, coordinator for BFC. “We don’t require anyone to possess a particular skill set, but we seek everyday folks who are willing to sacrifice a week of their life to make a difference in God’s Kingdom.”
BFC has constructed more than 50 churches since 1961 and organizes three teams annually to work on church-building projects in three states. Areas of expertise that BFC provides include wood framing, electrical conduits, wiring, electrical service and fixtures, plumbing rough-ins, HVAC ductwork and piping, roofing, drywall installation, cabinetwork, finish carpentry, door and hardware installation, brick veneer masonry, and painting.
In recent years about 1,700 volunteers from more than 100 churches have networked together as partners to construct these projects as construction missionaries.
“Most of the volunteers for this project will network with other church groups for their 29th year of ministry together,” Corley said. “More than 60 church teams from 25 states will come to Kansas City for this ‘church raising.’ Volunteers pay for their travel, lodging and food, and they give of their vacation time to expand God’s Kingdom through construction missions. Each team is merged into a very organized process to insure that their work is meaningful and productive. Over the years, God has abundantly supplied the workers for our efforts, but with a project of this magnitude, other teams are very much needed for us to accomplish His work at Midwestern.”
The groundwork and foundation preparation phase for the chapel project begins in early 2010, and the BFC volunteer construction effort begins on May 26, 2010, and runs through Labor Day.
“As churches, families and friends around the country plan their mission efforts for the upcoming year, we ask them to prayerfully consider joining Midwestern in making an eternal, world-changing difference through this chapel project,” Roberts said. “Above everything else, we covet your prayers. To complete this God-sized task will be a true testimony to the power of prayer. Thirdly, in the area of finances, we’ll need further assistance so we can complete this project and be debt free.”
The MBTS president outlined reasons for the need of a new chapel complex, saying, “By building the complex we will alleviate crowded chapel services, be able to host much larger conferences, workshops and graduation ceremonies,” he said. “It will also allow further seminary growth by freeing up the space in our current chapel for library expansion. Thus, we will be able to consolidate our library into one facility and notably increase the number of volumes.
“Greater efficiency and effectiveness in training students for the completion of the Great Commission is our goal in this undertaking,” Roberts added. “We are praying for the Lord to move among His people to see this chapel built for the glory of God!”