In a recent report released from The Association of Theological Schools on the numbers of students enrolled in seminary, CBF partner school Central Seminary was identified as one of the 12 fastest growing theology schools in the U.S. Central was highlighted as one that has seen attendance grow by more than 50 percent. According to President Molly T. Marshall, it is absolutely critical to offer relevant and contextual theological education to support Central’s mission and values. As a result, Central has overseen a record growth of more than 179 percent during the past five years. Central is devoted to the redemptive gospel, the mission of the church and to intellectual inquiry which encourages open-mindedness to the best insights of biblical and theological studies. For more information, visit www.cbts.edu.
By Ashton Wells
When I first read that Central Baptist Theological Seminary was named as one of the fastest growing ATS schools, I was not surprised. As a student, I have benefitted from Central’s innovative approach to theological education and knew that it was just a matter of time before everyone caught on.
As a member of the create program, I have been encouraged to look at ministry in different ways. From day one at Central, the seminary has affirmed that a calling to ministry is no longer just a calling to a pastoral position, but can also be a calling to serve at a nonprofit, a global organization or just a call to a “secular” job with a basis of theological training.
With this stance, the seminary has a wide appeal to people looking at all different careers in ministry. With a Bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership, the affirmation of my love for the nonprofit world, as well as my love for God and ministry has been huge.
However, the most beneficial aspect of Central for me has been the global focus.
Last March I had the privilege of going on a pilgrimage to Thailand/Myanmar with the seminary. I traveled with my cohort, Doctor of Ministry students and faculty. We were able to immerse ourselves in a culture where Christianity is not the dominant religion and were able to see God at work in new and beautiful ways. You cannot go to Myanmar, experience that culture and worship with Christians there, and not be challenged to come back and do something radical in your own faith context.
After the trip I had the opportunity to help host several students from Myanmar Institute of Theology here in Kansas City. Now I not only have a network of people in ministry in the United States, but internationally as well! What a blessing it has been to learn from my friends in Myanmar, to be able to walk alongside them in their journey as they walk alongside me in my own.
And Myanmar is not the only global focus at Central. We also have a large Korean program, as well as FOUNDATIONS programs that equip leaders in their native language. I am thankful for this global aspect of Central as it encourages us to get to know a diverse community of people who are united in working toward the same goal: spreading the love of Christ.
Behind Central’s innovative approach and global focus is a committed group of faculty and staff who invest in every student. I have been mentored by amazing educators during my time at Central. The faculty is not only committed to teaching, but to helping students find innovative ways to apply what we have learned. I have professors who have followed up with me about dreams I have presented in class and who are providing me with the resources I need to be successful wherever God calls me next.
I am so thankful for this group of educators without whom I would not be the person I am today. Their mentorship, affirmation and love is instilled in every student. Thanks to their hard work, Central continues to grow and invest in the next generation of leaders.
Ashton Wells is a graduating M.Div. student at Central Seminary in Shawnee, Kan.