ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) – R. Philip Roberts, in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s annual report to the Southern Baptist Convention, updated messengers on the progress of its chapel construction project and unveiled the new fully accredited online master’s degree program.
The seminary is in the midst of building a 40,000-square-foot chapel complex on its Kansas City campus that Roberts, Midwestern’s president, said will enhance learning opportunities for students, create room for larger events and ultimately free up room to consolidate and upgrade the present library.
“This project is largely driven by volunteer help. We’re so delighted to have the assistance of Builders for Christ in Birmingham, Ala.,” Roberts said. “They are involving, enlisting and bringing to us, at their expense, over 1,500 workers for the cause of building this chapel during the course of this summer.”
The volunteers will invest more than 70,000 hours equating to about $2 million in labor costs toward the project.
Roberts shared a story about an added benefit the project: As construction has progressed, Roberts met a worker, Darwin Gardner, from the general contractor, J.E. Dunn, who said that after spending time with the volunteers he noticed a difference between working with them and regular construction professionals.
Roberts told Gardner that the difference was their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and he shared the Gospel with Gardner. Two days later, Gardner accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
“This process isn’t about building buildings. It’s about investing in lives and making a difference for the cause of the Gospel,” Roberts said.
Another key development at Midwestern Baptist College, Roberts said, is the addition of an online master’s degree the seminary will launch July 1 named the master of arts in theological studies.
The 45-credit-hour online program consists of the core courses necessary to attain a master of divinity. Classes are available every eight weeks, and if a student takes one course each term, a degree can be earned in just over two years.
“If you’re interested in, need and want this assistance anywhere in the world, you can study with us at Midwestern,” Roberts said, adding that students can roll the hours taken for the master of arts into a master of divinity at a later time if desired.
Roberts said the master of arts in theological studies online program is a first for Southern Baptist seminaries, and the coursework is fully accredited by the North Central Association of the Higher Learning Commission and has been approved by the Association of Theological Schools.
Roberts continued his report by speaking about the seminary’s FUSION program, which provides incoming college freshmen a time of training in evangelism and disaster relief and a semester of credit hours for theological studies. Roberts said that in the FUSION trainees’ second semester, they deploy overseas to places such as Sudan, Haiti, Kosovo and India to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. Roberts added that while overseas, the students serve with International Mission Board workers in various ministry areas.
“Pray for these students, and if you have high school seniors getting ready to graduate, think about FUSION for them,” Roberts said. “We want them to come back with missionary DNA instilled in their lives, hearts and minds for the cause of Christ.”
Referencing the 6,500-volume C.H. Spurgeon collection now housed at Midwestern’s library, Roberts noted that once the new chapel is completed, there are plans to convert the existing chapel into expanded library space.
“One of the areas for expansion is to provide housing and a reconstructed library for Spurgeon’s personal collection,” he said. “We have the privilege of using this resource as a historical archive and as an inspiration for students in years ahead to live a life like Spurgeon lived and to be the kind of person that he was for the cause of Christ and the cause of the Gospel.”