Kansas City, KS – Central Baptist Theological Seminary is ready to move to its third home – a move administrators say will assist the 105-year-old institution save money and position it for future growth.
Central's board of directors voted May 12 to purchase 10 acres and a facility currently being used by Westside Family Church for $3.1 million. Administrators plan to make the move in mid-summer to minimize the impact on students.
The new home is located on the eastern edge of Shawnee, Kan., approximately 17 miles south and west of the institution's current facility in the heart of Kansas City.
"We wanted very much to remain in Kansas," Central Seminary president Molly T. Marshall said in a May 15 press release.
"American Baptist churches in Kansas have historically supported the seminary. They have sent us students and we sent them ministers."
The president noted that at less than 6 years old, the new facility can accommodate Central right away. A feasibility study will begin next fall to determine needed capital improvements, she said.
In a phone interview, Marshall stressed that the new location should not hinder Missouri commuter students. "It's not going to be appreciably further because of the interstates," she said. The new home should be easier to reach, she added.
Moving out of the current facility makes sense, partly because of the cost of maintaining the aging structures and partly because the student population has shifted from primarily residential to mostly commuter.
"Ours is primarily a non-residential program with an older demographic," Marshall said. The majority of students live within two hours of the campus.
No dorm space will be offered at the new facility, Marshall said. Instead, enrollment services has investigated alternative housing options and will make arrangements for students who need a place to live.
While meeting Central's need to reduce its budget, the new facility also will allow program and ministry growth, board members believe.
"As institutional space needs change in the future, this campus can change and grow with us. We are overwhelmed by this blessing," noted board chair Don Wissman in the seminary's press release.
"The board had to step out in faith this past November when we voted to move, not knowing the next home of the seminary. With the move to Shawnee and the facilities we are able to acquire, we have a strong sense of energy and direction," he added.
In addition to the main campus, Central has four satellite sites – Milwaukee, Wisc.; Oklahoma City; Omaha, Neb.; and Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Founded in 1901, Central is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA, and is in full support with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Students from 20 denominations currently attend, including Disciples of Christ, National Baptists and Presbyterians.