KANSAS CITY, Mo., (MBTS) – The Midwestern Seminary community celebrated a landmark moment in the institution’s history as it dedicated the Mathena Student Center in conjunction with its Fall Trustee Meeting on Oct. 15-16. Among significant trustee business, the board also elected a new member to the faculty.
The meeting’s highlights came on Tuesday, when the trustees elected T. Dale Johnson to the full-time faculty, announced record enrollment, and dedicated the 40,000 square foot facility in the name of Harold and Patricia Mathena, who provided a $7 million lead gift for the project.
Mathena Student Center Dedication
Surrounding the dedication of the Mathena Student Center were events that included a chapel service, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and tours for students, faculty and guests. And, immediately after opening, guests began use of its services.
During the chapel service, President Jason Allen referred to the day as one where it would be easy for man to take all the glory, but after sharing the story of all the steps leading up to this day, he knew it was only God’s kind providence that could be given as a reason.
“This special day in the life of Midwestern Seminary, Oct. 16, 2018, is about the Lord,” Allen said. “It is about his work, his faithfulness, his growth. In all of this we say, ‘This is the day that the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.’
“We receive in Scripture the challenge that is etched prominently inside the new building, and that is the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20. We fail here if this building isn’t about training servants for the Great Commission.”
Allen then recognized a number of key contributors to the construction project, including some who had given financially, and some who had given sacrificially, in terms of their contribution to the seminary community and even one’s life.
To the latter, the Tomlinson Café was named after recently-retired Professor of New Testament and Greek, Alan Tomlinson, and the Knapp Children’s area was named after former student, Micah Knapp, who provided childcare services on campus before passing away in an automobile accident in 2017.
Of the Mathenas, Allen said, “To know these people is not simply to know people with great resources and with great generosity. It is to know the sweetest Christian family you could meet. I mean this before the Lord, if they had not given a penny to this seminary, I would be privileged to call them friends.
“They pray for us; they encourage us; their heart for the gospel is evident. It outshines literally their generosity for this institution. I could be president here 30 years and never find such a family who could make the type of contribution, who would make the type of contribution to enable us to have a Student Center. We are truly blessed that the Lord providentially connected our paths.”
Also during the service, Harold Mathena preach from Joshua 4, referencing the memorial stones the Israelites placed in Gilgal to mark their crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land. Of this significant occasion, Mathena said he sees similarities between then and a new era that has dawned at Midwestern Seminary. He added that the new student center is one of those markers for the entire world to see God’s glory and all He has done on the Kansas City campus over the past six years.
“These stones here (at the student center), we are going to commemorate them in recognition of the miracle that has come about in this place,” Mathena said.
He added that just a few years back many people wondered if this institution could experience revitalization, and his answer is a resounding, “Yes.”
“Here at Midwestern, I am thinking, my soul, has this place not been revitalized? Is there not evidence here of a new birth, if you will? There is a new energy here, there is a new excitement here.
“What we are doing here today is celebrating another polished stone. It is another era that we are entering into. It is a new day; it is a new dawning; It is a new time under a new leader, under the great men and women that God has assembled here. I am thinking, glory be to God! And it is not just for you and for me. It is not just for this seminary. It is so that all the people of the world might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.”
The two-story facility houses a cafeteria, the Sword & Trowel Bookstore and Tomlinson Café, recreation areas for family use, a collegiate-sized gymnasium, a walking track, a racquetball court, fitness rooms, as well as formal event facilities, seminar rooms and staff offices.
Johnson elected to Faculty
Based upon a recommendation from the Academic Committee, Dale Johnson was elected by the Trustees to Midwestern Seminary’s faculty as associate professor of biblical counseling.
“I cannot be more pleased to announce the election of Dr. Dale Johnson to the faculty of Midwestern Seminary,” Allen said. “As we have been evaluating the direction of our counseling program, we could think of no one more qualified in the area of biblical counseling than Dr. Johnson. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field, and we know he will develop the skills of our counseling students in a way that glorifies God and best serves the local church. We look forward to his leadership in the years ahead.”
“These are exciting days at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Johnson said. “Our Lord has granted Dr. Jason Allen a wonderful vision, and the wisdom to execute that vision, for seminary education that serves the church. I am honored to join the growing team the Lord is assembling at MBTS to train church leaders who find their wisdom in Christ, who shepherd as Christ, who are zealous for God’s glory like Christ, and who love the bride of Christ.”
Provost Jason Duesing added, “Dale Johnson’s election to the faculty at Midwestern is a true blessing. I’ve known him for almost 20 years, and it has been a joy to see him prepared uniquely now to lead Midwestern Seminary in developing counseling programs for the church given his ministry and academic experience. I am grateful, too, for his wife, Summer, and their family’s willingness to join us, as they will surely serve as a complement to our seminary family.”
Johnson comes to Midwestern Seminary after serving for more than four years at Southwestern Seminary as assistant professor of biblical counseling.
There, he was part of the biblical counseling department in the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries full-time since the fall semester of 2014.
In other ministry service, Johnson served for seven years as associate pastor of family life at Raiford Road Church in Macclenny, Fla. He also was chaplain for the Baker County High School Wildcats baseball and football teams in Glen St. Mary, Fla.
Midwestern Seminary’s newest professor earned Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla., a Master of Divinity in biblical counseling from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a Ph.D. in biblical counseling from Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas.
He is married to Summer, and they have six children.
Trustee Meeting Business
During his President’s Report, Allen reported record enrollment gains, reviewed the seminary’s five-year strategic plan, and provided an update on the institution’s accreditation.
In presenting the school’s fall semester enrollment, Allen explained that both headcount and hours sold had reached record levels.
“We are grateful to the Lord that he continues to allow us to be in a season of incredible enrollment growth,” Allen said. “Over the past academic year, we enrolled 3,525 students. This continues our recent trend of double-digit enrollment growth. Our continued focus is the residential M.Div., but Spurgeon College as well as our online, master’s, and doctoral degree programs continue to flourish as well.”
Allen also explained the seminary’s five-year Strategic Plan to the trustees, and the Executive Committee acted by presenting a motion to the full Board that they have reviewed and re-affirmed the plan. The motion passed unanimously.
Finally, Allen provided another update to the trustees on the school’s accreditation status – mentioning that a recent visit by a liaison of regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, went extremely well. He explained that items noted from its most recent site visit were well on their way to being resolved and a future site visit date is set for Feb. 4-5, 2019. Midwestern Seminary is fully accredited by both the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission.
In other business, during the plenary session the trustees welcomed five new members as well as elected, re-elected, and promoted faculty members.
In recommendations coming from the Academic Committee, the trustees—in addition to Johnson—elected Matthew Barrett as associate professor of Christian theology; re-elected to a three-year term Owen Strachan as associate professor of Christian theology and director of the Center for Public Theology; and promoted Allen to professor of preaching and pastoral ministry.
Additionally, five new trustees were welcomed to the Board by Chairman John Mathena, including: Gene Dempsey of Kent, Wash., Lane Harrison of Ozark, Mo., Michael Jefferies of Leawood, Kan., Larry Lewis of Columbia, Mo., and Ed Mattox of Farmington, Mich.
Midwestern Seminary’s Board of Trustees consists of 35 members and meets biannually in October and April.