The following background information provides perspective on the reasons for the existence of Baptist Seminary of Kentucky (BSK). The raison d’etre of Baptist Seminary of Kentucky resulted from three primary factors.
First, men and women called by God to vocational ministry are seeking places for theological education. At the same time churches and Christian organizations are seeking well-trained ministers for Christian service. An exploration of these needs located shifts from the choices in the past. In the mid-1990’s, for example, 80.6% of graduates planning to attend seminary from the three senior Baptist colleges in Kentucky went outside the state. Previously, the majority of these students would have attended Southern Seminary in Louisville. How many will return to minister in Kentucky or this region remains to be seen. This pattern, also evident in “secular” schools, has been consistent for the last several years in Kentucky and in Tennessee as well. Preparing God-called women and men to be capable leaders in churches and Christian organizations is an ongoing concern for this region.
Another aspect of this first factor is that many churches in this region are served currently by ministers of the older segment of the Baby Boomer generation. A leadership vacuum of men and women trained in historic Baptist principles will exist in the next fifteen to twenty years if other options for theological training are not available. So the needs of students and the needs of churches are a primary motivation for training well-prepared leaders in a new Baptist seminary. BSK has a calling from God to meet these needs.
Closely related is the second factor, that is, the role geography plays in light of the concentration of Baptists in the southeast and in light of the locations of new theological schools among Baptists. Placing these schools (total of 12 including BSK) on a map demonstrates clearly that alternative Baptist institutions are located in eastern seaboard states (4 in North Carolina, 2 in Georgia, 1 in Virginia) and also west of the Mississippi River (3 in Texas, 1 in Kansas City).
While some students are willing to move long distances for seminary, many prefer to stay closer to home because of family roots, church ties, employment and other economic reasons. With trends toward smaller, regional seminaries, BSK offers a viable opportunity for students in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and other contiguous states.
A third factor is the theological shift at Southern Seminary to more conservative (some would say fundamentalist) positions and away from historic Baptist principles and theology. This resulted in an immeasurable sense of loss. We readily acknowledge that BSK would not exist were it not for the takeover movement in Southern Baptist life, especially at Southern Seminary. In Kentucky we have acted, no longer out of anger, but out of the need for reframing our situation beyond our grief. We have established another option for students and churches. BSK affirms the cherished beliefs and principles of our Baptist forebearers as spelled out in our Purposes.
On the other hand, BSK recognizes the new day in theological education as an opportunity to re-think and re-shape the approach to preparing ministers. Rather than deconstructing students and then offering some assistance in rebuilding a theological framework, BSK focuses on working with students where they are in terms of spiritual development, theological perspective and ministry goals. This is accomplished with a blend of competent scholarship grounded in the history of Christianity with contemporary emphases such as spiritual formation and visionary leadership.
BSK has developed a curriculum that includes the biblical, theological and ministry rubrics along with components focusing on Christian call, World Religions, Christianity and Culture and Leadership in the Church. All of this is designed with significant attention to the practice of ministry.
We believe that churches are rightly seeking ministers who are spiritually healthy, theologically reflective and practically trained. We are responding by preparing students to be capable Christian leaders for this generation and generations to come.
All things considered, Baptist Seminary of Kentucky has experienced a good beginning. Having been formed by a fresh wind of God’s Spirit, the Seminary is fulfilling its mission of preparing students for life and ministry.
Greg C. Earwood, President (2001-2016)