KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Amid a grand celebration of Jason Allen’s fifth anniversary as Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, trustees, friends and the seminary community gathered Oct. 16 to mark the occasion and praise God for Allen’s accomplishments during that tenure.
Additionally, trustees approved a campus renovation project and received news of record enrollment, faculty re-elections and promotions.
Following a full day of trustee work sessions and committee meetings, the institution turned to commemorating the fifth anniversary of Allen, who officially took office on Oct. 15, 2012.
The evening began with a 10-minute video of well-wishers from across the Southern Baptist Convention and greater evangelical world who praised Allen for his vision of “For the Church” resources and conferences and for leading the seminary to unprecedented enrollment growth and success.
Dwight Blankenship, trustee and pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in St. Louis, followed the video with reflections on the presidential search committee’s process and eventual selection of Allen and his family. Chairman Ken Parker, who pastors First Baptist Church of Kearney, Mo., explained his confidence in the selection of Allen five years ago.
“From the moment I heard about Dr. Jason Allen and the committee’s confidence in his Christian character, dedication, intellect, strategic thinking, and frankly necessary grit to lead Midwestern, I too was confident he was the man…,” Parker said. “And in the five years since that day, the committee’s chosen candidate has proven them to be right in countless ways on countless occasions. God graciously provided us with a leader.”
Parker added that since Allen came to Kansas City, the seminary has experienced significant change. “We recognize that this is a different school than it was even just five years ago. In many ways I think this is the institution God desired to have in Kansas City all along. A place that is … ‘For the church.'”
Parker further honored the Allen family by presenting gifts to Karen Allen, and the couple’s five children.
“As a seminary community, we say thank you to Mrs. Allen and all the children for their role in what God is doing here. You have supported your husband and your dad. In many ways, I’m assured, there are sacrifices about which only heaven will know, but they will literally reap eternal benefits. So we thank you.”
Parker also honored Allen with the Martin Luther Christian Leadership Award, which henceforth will be presented as the highest honor one can receive at Midwestern Seminary.
Referencing this month’s 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Parker said, “We recognize Martin Luther for reasons too numerous to count: as an exemplary leader in Christian thought and practice, a man, literally ‘for the church.’ Luther’s influence, preaching, writing, teaching, and overall leadership forever changed the trajectory of the church.
“In similar fashion, the influence, preaching, writing, teaching, and overall leadership of Dr. Jason Allen has forever changed the trajectory of Midwestern Seminary, an institution, ‘For the church.'”
Allen responded by explaining the selection process, his family’s experience leading up to his acceptance of the position, and where the vision “For the Church originated.”
Allen also thanked his parents for having high expectations of his life; he thanked his wife and children for their support; he expressed gratitude for the many supporters who rose up and financially blessed the seminary community during the past five years — including Gene and Jo Downing of Oklahoma City, Bill and Connie Jenkins of Paoli, Ind., and Harold and Patricia Mathena of Oklahoma City.
He further praised the “incredible” faculty and staff of Midwestern Seminary for making “For the Church” a campus-wide culture and mindset.
To all these, Allen said, “I do not take it for granted that you would give one dollar here. I do not take it for granted that you would choose to serve here. I do not take it for granted that you would uproot your family and move across country to be a part of this team here…. So, I am telling you tonight, thank you.”
Allen emphasized that he, his wife and their family clearly understand that for all that is happening at Midwestern Seminary, “God is the one who gets the glory…. It is about his church; it is about His gospel; it about his glory.”
Allen concluded the evening by recognizing and thanking the seven members of the presidential search committee, who ultimately selected him as president of Midwestern Seminary: Bill Bowyer, Blankenship, Kevin Shrum, Roger Marshall, Larry Lewis, Larry Dramann and Don Paxton. In his recently published book, “Portraits of a Pastor,” Allen dedicated the work to each member of the search committee, especially committee chairman, Bowyer, who passed away this past year.
Trustee meeting business
During his president’s report, Jason Allen announced to the board that in five years, the institution’s enrollment has risen to more than 3,000 students.
The 2010-11 total student enrollment stood at 1,107. As of fall 2017 that number totaled 3,035.
“We continue to give God all the glory for the great work he is doing at Midwestern Seminary,” he said. “We do not take for granted one of these students that God has provided for us to steward and the local churches have sent for us to train in becoming the next generation of pastors, missionaries and ministry leaders for the church.”
Allen further announced that progress on the Mathena Student Center is on schedule and on budget. Construction is expected to be complete by June 1, 2018.
In meeting business, the trustee’s Executive Committee brought forth a recommendation, which the full board unanimously approved, to move forward with plans to renovate the Trustee Classroom building and old student center. Plans include consolidating faculty offices to one central location, as well as to consolidate all of the student services components into one convenient location for student access. Such areas include the financial services office, admissions, information technology, registrar’s office, housing office and church partnership office.
In other business, via recommendations from the academic committee, the trustees re-elected David McAlpin as associate professor of biblical interpretation, Radu Gheorghita as associate professor of biblical studies, Matthew Swain as assistant professor of worship ministries and re-elected and promoted Christian George as associate professor of historical theology.
Additionally, three new trustees were welcomed to the Board by Chairman Parker, including: Clyde Meador of Glen Allen, Va., Chad McDonald of Lenexa, Kan. and Jacob McMillian of St. Joseph, Mo.