KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will remove over $850,00 in funds from the Missouri Baptist Foundation. During the March 10-11 board meeting at the Embassy Suites in Kansas City, the Seminary trustees unanimously voted to re-allocate the funds into the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma.
"We are convinced the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma is committed to be an integral, responsible part of the fellowship of Southern Baptists," Midwestern President Phil Roberts said. "They have a vital and acceptable relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. This makes the partnership workable for Midwestern and satisfies our bylaws."
Talks of re-distribution began last October when the trustees voted to pursue the removal of seminary funds form the Missouri Baptist Foundation because it is among the five Missouri Baptist Convention entities that have voted to be independent; The MBC is seeking a court declaration against the five entities on the basis that they are in violation of the state law.
Midwestern’s own bylaws state ensures that all funds be invested through a Southern Baptist foundation or entities affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Seminary trustee David Tolliver, pastor of First Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, Mo., said the seminary did not need to wait for the outcome of the court action to determine whether to remove funds.
"It would take too long, perhaps more than a year," Tolliver said. "It's the principle. The Missouri Baptist Foundation felt they should go self-perpetuating and didn't wait to go before the convention for approval, so why should we wait? The Missouri Baptist Foundation is not part of the Southern Baptist Convention through an affiliation with the Missouri Baptist Convention, and by our bylaws, we have to have our funds invested in an SBC entity. We are making a clear statement."
Should the MBF chose to affiliate itself with the MBC, the MBT Seminary may return funds back to the MBF. The seminary will incur an estimated cost of $1,800 to transfer the funds.
The trustees also approved a $4.8 million budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year, which was about $100,000 less than the budget approved at last year's spring meeting. The budget cuts came as a result of a 3.66 percent decrease in monies received from the Cooperative Program and other sources.
The trustees agreed that the two-year associate of arts degree program begin this fall, with start-up costs of about $95,000. Stephen J. Andrews, professor of Old Testament, Hebrew and archaeology, will direct the undergraduate program, which will include visiting teachers (adjuncts). The degree will replace the current diploma studies program, which has experienced declining numbers in recent years.
To offset the budget cuts, the trust raised tuition by $10 per credit hour and raised rent for campus housing by 5 percent, effective Aug. 1. Trustees also increased registration fee from $25 to $75.
The next trustee meeting will be Oct. 20-21 in Kansas City.
By Pauline J.