After early reports from Associated Baptist Press (ABP), a
North Carolina newspaper article announced March 10 that talks have ended about
a possible merger of Baptist Theological Seminary (BTSR) in Richmond, Va., and
The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald said the executive committee
of Chowan’s board of trustees voted March 8 to discontinue discussions. ABP had
reported March 1 that a merger with a university was one option under
consideration by BTSR trustees to secure the seminary’s future.
“The big elephant in the room is money,” said Chris White,
BTSR has $7 million in debt.
A blog by BTSR President Ron Crawford said that talk of a
merger with a particular university was premature and that Chowan’s president
overstated the seminary’s financial woes.
BTSR trustees will meet March 21-22. Before the announcement
that the merger was off the table, it was expected that a formal announcement
would be made at the BTSR trustee meeting. Then the decision would have been up
to Chowan’s board which is slated to meet April 7.
“Last October our trustees looked hard at our business plan
in light of our future,” Crawford said. “They asked a committee to study
possibilities and make a recommendation at the March meeting of the full board
Crawford said those possibilities include “partnering” with
other institutions, but added, “We’re still in the process of seeing what the
best options are. It’s a little premature to say we have focused on one option
and that’s the only one we’re looking at.”
BTSR receives significant funding from both the Cooperative
Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist General Association of Virginia. It’s not
clear how or if a merger would affect those revenue streams.
Currently, BTSR is one of only two theologically moderate
seminaries not affiliated with a university. In 2008 BTSR downsized its faculty
and staff by seven due to lack of funds.
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