Recently I have been studying the history of Central as we prepare to launch a capital campaign. I am amazed at the resiliency of the school, and I am even more amazed by God’s providence in its 113 year old history. There were seasons when it appeared that the school could not survive despite the best prayers and efforts of the board and seminary administrators. Yet, by God’s mercy, it did.
Often a school will have a motto or key text that sums up its mission or core values. Since 1927 the watchword of Central has been: “ . . . but this one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14). The single-minded pursuit of the Apostle has reminded generations of seminarians and seminary leadership of the grace and effort that sustain our work
No hardship or failure of the past will keep Paul from following God’s call to him. He knows that God is crafting a future full of promise, and he pours out his life to that end. As I read of the witness of my forebears at Central, I am amazed at their relentless will to see God’s purpose accomplished through this school. Each epoch has held distinctive challenges, and resourceful leaders and generous donors conspired to seize what lay ahead.
The good work of the school is always about the kind of ministers we are preparing. Last evening I had the privilege of participating in the ordination of three of our graduates at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church. For the first time in its venerable 119 year history, the church was recognizing the calling and gifts of women as ordained clergy. What struck me about each of the candidates was how long they had practiced “but this one thing I do.” They were seasoned servants of God, and they had kept the goal in view.
It was a holy time as the congregation gathered around two men and two women to “stir into flame” the gifts of the Spirit. Singing, praying, blessing, anointing, laying on hands, and exhorting, laity and clergy set them apart. As the people of God, they recognized that God has not ceased to supply good ministers of Christ Jesus who will help lead the church to what lies ahead.
Central lives to serve the church, and an ordination service highlights our unique partnership with congregations as we share the work of nurturing vocational callings in ministry. This “one thing” is best done together, and we rejoice in our common cause.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.