Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention’s seminaries met this fall to celebrate new faculty, enrollment growth, financial successes, progress despite ongoing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss a variety of other strategic plans for the future.
See reports from each of the six seminaries below:
Gateway Seminary, Ontario, California
During Gateway Seminary’s Oct. 11-12 trustee board meeting, President Jeff Iorg reported that the seminary has maintained its focus in spite of “denominational conflict, social unrest, political turmoil and a global pandemic.” Four specific areas of focus for Gateway Seminary have been:
- Executive transition – Two vice presidents were approved at the spring 2021 meeting, replacing two vice presidents with more than 80 years of combined service among Southern Baptists.
- Educational delivery methods that are evenly divided between on-campus learning, a combination of remote/live video classes and fully online classes.
- Shifting employee work patterns – Employees have returned to work on campus.
- Long-term financial health – A recent audit showed the “differential between assets and liabilities is well over $100 million,” Iorg said. Additionally, the seminary exceeds recommended financial reserves by a factor of ten. Recent significant gifts include $100,000 for the Rocky Mountain Campus endowment fund and $100,000 for an endowed scholarship for students planning to serve in East Asia or the Pacific Rim.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri
Midwestern Seminary’s Oct. 18-19 fall trustee meeting focused on enrollment growth, the dedication of the seminary’s newly renovated library, the announcement of a forthcoming graduate-level missions’ program, and the election of new faculty members. Specific highlights from the meeting included the following:
- MBTS President Jason Allen reported total headcount reached 4,720 students, compared to 4,374 for the 2019-20 academic year.
- Formal dedication of the seminary’s newly renovated library, named in honor of the seminary’s third president, Dr. Mark T. Coppenger, who served as president at Midwestern Seminary from 1995 to 1999.
- New graduate-level missions program aimed at equipping students desiring to serve in overseas ministry contexts. More details about the new program, including admissions requirements and program structure, will be released later this fall.
- MBTS elected two professors to the faculty, re-elected two other professors, approved two sabbatical requests and reappointed one faculty member. Trustees also approved an updated campus housing plan and received and reviewed reports on the seminary’s financial position and endowment performance.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans Baptist Seminary and Leavell College trustees elected Greg Mathias to the faculty, approved curriculum adjustments and welcomed 12 new trustees during their Oct. 12 -13 meeting. In addition to his work as a professor, Mathias has been tasked with relaunching the school’s Global Missions Center, which will be relocated near the North American Mission Board’s new Church Planting Center.
“The new Global Missions Center space will place this important initiative in the heart of our campus and student life,” NOBTS President Jamie Dew reported. “As students prepare here, they will be better equipped to serve anywhere.”
Earlier in the fall, Dew began prioritizing missions at every chapel service. Dew said Mathias and George Ross, director of the NAMB center, will lead the charge to reinvigorate a missions focus on campus.
Dew gave trustees a tour of campus housing to share his vision for updates and improvements as funds become available. The trustees also approved the seminary’s annual audit report.
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary, reported to trustees during their Oct. 10-12 meeting that the seminary has experienced both record enrollment and its strongest year of giving. SEBTS enrollment exceeds 5,000 students and the seminary has raised 32% more in 2020-21 than in the previous fiscal year.
Trustees approved a strategic institutional focus, “Love the Truth,” for 2021-22. This focus is one of four guiding “loves” for the seminary: Love God, Love the Truth, Love the Church and Love the World. The board of trustees approved several other items, including:
- Proposals and revisions to college, graduate and advanced curriculum.
- The Butler Family Student Aid Fund.
- Sabbatical reports from four faculty members.
- Sabbatical requests from three faculty members.
The board welcomed nine new trustees.
Trustees also were updated on the seminary’s progress in its For the Mission campaign, which has reached 72.5% of its $20.5 million goal.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
The Southern Seminary experienced a record year in both revenues and enrollment in 2020-2021, seminary officials reported during their Oct. 11-12 board of trustees meeting. The seminary exceeded budgetary expectations in three key areas: tuition revenue, receipts from the SBC Cooperative Program and donor giving. Student enrollment also increased during the pandemic.
SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. reported that though tuition rates were reduced for the 2020-21 school year, tuition and fees were $3.4 million greater than the amount budgeted, attributable to a sizeable increase in enrollment. Donor contributions also were more than $2.7 million over budget expectations. Trustees honored the life and ministry of SBTS music professors Phillip Landgrave and Greg Brewton, both of whom died in September, Landgrave at 86 and Brewton at 65.
In other business, trustees:
- Approved the faculty elections of two associate professors, sabbatical leave for to professors, two faculty promotions, and approved four non-Baptist scholars as adjunct professors.
- Reaffirmed the seminary’s mission statement, which says “Under the lordship of Jesus Christ, the mission of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is to be totally committed to the Bible as the Word of God, to the Great Commission as our mandate, and to be a servant of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by training, educating, and preparing ministers of the gospel for more faithful service.”
- Elected Ellie Coursey as vice chair of the audit committee.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
Southwestern Seminary’s board of trustees gathered for their fall meeting, Oct. 18-19. President Adam W. Greenway reported a new academic chair honoring longtime pastor and Southern Baptist leader Charles F. Stanley, the appointment of Gregory A. Wills as the new dean of the School of Theology, and the naming of the Center for Church Revitalization after former SWBTS president Kenneth S. Hemphill.
During the meeting, the seminary also reported the following;
- More than $65 million in revenues during the fiscal year 2021 from all funding streams, $50 million of which was in unrestricted revenues.
- Receiving a “very clean audit and no problems, big or small to report,” and the board approved the fiscal year 2021 financial statements.
- The promotion of D. Jeffrey Bingham to research professor of historical theology and naming him to the endowed Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology in the School of Theology. Bingham also has been appointed as director of the seminary’s Center for Early Christian Studies. Bingham was also granted a sabbatical leave for the 2022-2023 academic year.
- Edward Upton was named vice president for institutional advancement, a role he has held on an interim basis since May.
- The seminary celebrated the centennial anniversaries of the School of Church Music and Worship and the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries.
- The election of three faculty members who had been serving under presidential appointment.
- In other actions, the board approved revisions to the seminary’s investment policy statement.
The seminaries are supported in part by the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified plan for giving. About 22% of all CP contributions received by the SBC are directed to the six theological seminaries and the SBC Historical Library and Archives. In addition, the seminaries are supported by endowments, donations, tuition and fees, the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention reports.