The board of trustees, faculty, staff, and friends of the seminary threw quite the party this past Thursday evening. (I will not mind missing my funeral quite so much after hearing the loving tributes). It was a celebration of what God has done at Central over the past decade. While the spotlight focused brightly on the Office of the President, everyone knows how essential each person has been to our remarkable progress as a school. I give thanks for each of them—members of the leadership team, professors, staff and, of course, the board.
Friends and colleagues came from near and far, and their presence underscored Central’s key emphases and initiatives. Abbot Gregory of Conception Abbey came, which is a testimony to the strong bonds between our institutions and the significance of Benedictine spirituality in this Baptist school. Marvin Szneler of Jewish Community Relations Bureau/ American Jewish Committee came, demonstrating the commitment Central has to interfaith relations. Dr. Pamela Durso, executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, was in attendance, a graceful affirmation of Central’s focus on gender equity.
Faculty colleagues from varied Central sites came, and their presence highlighted the expanse of the seminary’s mission. Sister seminary presidents, Dr. Carla Sundberg of Nazarene Theological Seminary and Dr. Lallene Rector of Garrett, came to show their support, underlining the significance of stalwart colleagues in our complex positions. The keynote speaker, Dr. Alan Culpepper, founding dean of McAfee School of Theology offered a stirring address about the shape of leadership in theological education.
Very meaningful was the presence of former board members, those who had walked through very difficult days in institutional history. They helped hold it together, and now they are witness to God’s providence.
Key donors came, especially women who head family foundations. They have offered the lifeblood for Central, and their joyful presence encourages us all. The high point of the evening was the announcement by Vice President John Gravley that over 6 million dollars had been pledged/given toward securing Central’s future. Now that is something to celebrate, and I am astonished by such generosity.
The psalmist writes, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6). This is truly my testimony, and I could not be more grateful.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.