By Robin Sandbothe
Molly T. Marshall, president of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship partner school Central Baptist Theological Seminary, is fond of saying, “The church can exist without the seminary, but the seminary cannot exist without the church.” Of course, she likes to add that the churches who partner with the seminary have an even better existence!
At Central, partnerships are the best expression of our missional relationships.
Key Church Internships
Probably the most obvious example of this symbiotic relationship is the ministry praxis or internship requirements for each student in the Master of Divinity degree program. Students find a place to implement some of what they’re learning in seminary. While there are many churches which provide mentoring settings for these learners, the following Fellowship churches excel in fully grasping the advantages of a close connection to the seminary:
- Holmeswood Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.
- Second Baptist Church, Liberty, Mo.
- First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Mo.
- Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, Mo.
These churches have repeatedly invited students to complete their internship requirements with them. In addition, they have hosted events for the seminary, including commencement ceremonies, have taken advantage of the space and faculty and staff of the seminary to host and lead church events and have called freshly-minted seminary students to be their ministry associates. They have created cultures of calling within their congregations, have sent church members to Central to receive their degrees and have added Central to their church’s budget line items.
Economics of Ministry: from Classroom to Congregation
A Lilly Endowment-funded initiative is resulting in further partnering opportunities for Central and local congregations. For the Economics of Ministry: from Classroom to Congregation initiative, the seminary will collaborate with a group of key churches to assess student debt and church compensation and the implications of these realities. Central’s ultimate goal is to transform the economic landscape for individual ministers, congregations, judicatories and
FOUNDATIONS: Judson Communities
As CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter suggested recently, the global engagement of local CBF congregations and partnering seminaries like Central has become a part of the Fellowship’s greater mission enterprise. At Central the FOUNDATIONS Judson Communities ministry certificate program is evidence of how churches and seminaries are collaborating to address global issues that are in our own backyards.
Duane and Marcia Binkley, field personnel dually appointed by CBF and American Baptist Churches USA, are working with Central Seminary to provide seminary training for ministry leaders of refugee communities from Myanmar (Burma) who are resettling in the United States.
On April 27 President Marshall joined the Binkleys at First Baptist Church, New Bern, N.C., to present ministry certificates to 21 Karen ministry leaders from three cities in North Carolina. The church has hosted this group of students since September and is the third of five locations. The impact of the classes is felt both by the hosting church and the groups of refugees with whom the recipients will minister.
kaléō /kal-eh’-o/, [from Gr καλέω I call]: called!
April 26 marked the third of a series of events sponsored by Central’s Transformed by the Spirit Leadership Center. These events are designed to foster a culture of calling within congregations, especially for youth. Representatives from a variety of local faith communities have come together to design events and resources to help youth explore questions of identity and purpose — vocation. About 100 youth and their leaders from several Kansas City metro-area churches gathered last fall for worship, community ministry and conversations about calling.
A New Model for Ministry
An exciting emerging partnership currently in development involves Central, CBF Heartland, Second Baptist Church of Liberty, Mo., and Englewood Baptist Church of Kansas City, Mo. In this new model for ministry, Central master of divinity students, for the duration of their degree, would serve as the ministry team for Englewood, supervised by the pastoral team of Second Baptist, with support from CBF Heartland for connecting these pastoral scholars with CBF resources and other CBF scholars.
The opportunities for partnership continue to grow as the Spirit changes the very landscape of the church. “At Central we seek, with great enthusiasm, to embrace the creative opportunities we sense the Spirit is breathing into the Church.” –Molly T. Marshall
Robin Sandbothe is director of seminary relations at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kan.
This article first appeared in the June-July issue of fellowship! magazine. Read the entire issue online here.