KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Entering a freshly completed chapel complex, trustees, guests, friends and family gathered to inaugurate Jason K. Allen as the fifth president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary May 1.
The service was held following the spring trustee meeting and pre-inaugural events from Sunday through Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. (See story.)
Entity heads from across the Southern Baptist Convention were in attendance or brought greetings. They included Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee; John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention; and David Dockery, president of Union University. Leaders and representatives from several secular and Christian colleges and universities also were present.
Jason K. Allen, right, signs the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 at his inauguration as Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fifth president as Kevin Shrum, chairman of the board of trustees at the seminary, looks on.
An invocation given by Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, was followed by hymns, introductions and Scripture readings. Page brought greetings from the Executive Committee and commended Allen’s vision for the seminary’s responsibility toward the local church. Page said, “Our prayer is that you will never forget your connection to the local church.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., delivered the inaugural sermon, charging Allen to steward the sacred trust and confession of faith, particularly as outlined in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
“Among us, a confession of faith must be seen as a gift and a covenant. It is a sacred trust that guards revealed truths,” Mohler said. “A confession of faith never stands above the Bible, but the Bible itself mandates concern for the pattern of sound words.”
Allen then signed the BF&M after receiving a charge from trustee chairman Kevin Shrum. Each aspect of the charge was related to the roles of the president, his character and the vision and mission of the seminary. It also included an impassioned plea for Allen not to forsake loving and cherishing his wife and children while going about his seminary duties.
The signing of the BF&M was Allen’s solemn pledge to the Midwestern Seminary community and the inauguration audience to witness the inauguration that he would carry out those obligations.
Following the charge and investiture, Jon Elliff, pastor of Makakilo Baptist Church in Kapolei, Hawaii, encouraged those gathered to continually pray for Allen and his family, as Allen’s position would be one upon which Satan would seek to wreak havoc, especially in his family life. He then prayed over Allen and his wife Karen – charging him not only to be faithful as a seminary president but also as a husband and father.
Allen’s presidential response outlined his vision for the future of Midwestern Seminary.
“To our watching denomination I say, this day a man has been installed that loves the churches of this convention,” Allen said. “He resolves to serve, in both letter and in spirit, in good faith with the churches of this convention and welcomes the oversight and accountability the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention exercise over this seminary; this seminary they own.”
The newly inaugurated president highlighted Midwestern Seminary’s calling to exist “For the Church,” saying, “Under the auspices of this vision, we intend to bear any burden, pay any price, endure any hardship, seize any opportunity, launch any initiative and embark on any effort to strengthen our claim and fulfill our mission to be the seminary For the Church.”
Allen then made a call for unity to the SBC churches, their leaders and to all Christians beyond the denomination:
“To this denomination, and to brothers and sisters of like-faith beyond this denomination, I say join us, hope the best for us, believe the best about us, and expect the best from us,” he said. “Pray for us, partner with us, support us, send us your men and women to train for ministry, stand with us in solidarity of spirit, shared conviction and Gospel aspiration; and, without guile, I say, hold us accountable. Hold us accountable to our denominational, confessional and missiological commitments so that we might rightly exist For the Church.”
Allen was elected by the seminary’s board of trustees last October. Previously, he had served as vice president for institutional advancement at Southern Seminary.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tim Sweetman is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To view Jason Allen’s complete presidential response, visit www.jasonkallen.com.)