KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, meeting in regular session at the Embassy Suites near Kansas City International Airport, elected Jason K. Allen as the school’s fifth president on Oct. 15. The vote was 29-2.
Allen, 35, vice president for institutional advancement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., told reporters in a press conference following the closed-session vote, “We are honored by the trust this board has placed in us.” His wife, Karen, sat at his side.
Allen, 35, also is executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation and has concurrently served as senior pastor of Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville.
Trustee chair Kevin Shrum said the Allen’s election was “effective immediately.” It came after the presidential search committee introduced the new leader and he fielded trustee questions in a session of about three hours. Shrum is pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
The new president succeeds R. Philip Roberts, who resigned Feb. 10 after 11 years at the seminary post.
Search committee chair Bill Bowyer said the committee, which Shrum had encouraged to bring a candidate to trustees next April, was pleased to unanimously recommend Allen now after a process that included extended periods of “prayer, fasting and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” Bowyer is pastor of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Wake Forest, N.C.
“The Lord was in the timing,” the search chair said.
He said the committee discussed all aspects of seminary life with Allen and found the lengthy conversation “very fruitful.”
Shrum said the committee conducted listening sessions with the entire seminary community, including students, faculty and staff, to determine what they envisioned was needed by the seminary, particularly the qualities needed in a president. They responded that they wanted someone professional and pastoral, someone with leadership and vision, he said.
“I intend to lead a seminary that serves all Southern Baptists” and is committed to the Great Commission, Allen told reporters. He wants Midwestern to be a seminary that Southern Baptists “are proud of and pleased with,” he added.
Allen said the question-and-answer time with trustees was direct but conducted in a good spirit. They raised questions about his philosophy of theological education, leadership style, pastoral emphasis and doctrinal convictions, among others, he said.
“I shared my heart for missions and evangelism,” he said. “I will not abide by teachers or teaching that violates that accountability,” he pledged.
“You will hear me talking a lot about serving the local church,” Allen said. “We want this to be the school to be committed to the local church” by preparing outstanding pastors, church planters and others who other vocational church leaders.
The Allen family of seven plan to live on campus in the Vivion House, which was home to the first three presidents and their families and, for a short time, Roberts’ family. The Allen youngsters include Anne-Marie, 9; Caroline, 8; William, 7; Alden, 5; and Elizabeth, 4.
Allen, in other ministerial roles, has been senior pastor of Muldraugh Baptist Church in Muldraugh, Ky., and has worked in varying positions at churches in Alabama and Kentucky since 1998.
He holds Ph.D. and master of divinity degrees from Southern and an undergraduate degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala.
At the time of Robert’s resignation eight months ago, no reason was stated, and trustees gave no details about their called five-and-a-half hour meeting that prompted the 61-year-old to step down.
Trustees met behind closed doors in a meeting called specifically to consider Roberts’ job performance, trustees said in a statement released afterward. The start of that meeting was delayed when trustees supportive of Roberts tried to save his job by voting out the trustee officers and committee chairs instead.
That voted failed, the trustees’ three-sentence statement said. Roberts then submitted his resignation, effective Feb. 29. Trustees then “suspended” the special meeting.