KANSAS CITY, MO. – In a 29-2 vote, Jason K. Allen has been elected by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees as the school’s fifth president. The vote took place Monday (Oct. 15) during the trustees’ bi-annual meeting in Kansas City, Mo.
Allen, 35, comes to Midwestern from Louisville, Ky., where he served as vice president for institutional advancement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as executive director of the Southern Seminary Foundation. He had concurrently served as senior pastor of Carlisle Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville.
Midwestern’s new president, who assumed the seminary’s helm effective immediately, noted his thoughts upon being elected.
“I think the key word that defines my state of heart is first that I’m honored,” Allen said. “I’m honored by the trust this board has overwhelmingly placed in me.”
Allen said he and his wife Karen “both have sensed unmistakably the Lord’s leadership these past several months that has come to fruition and completion in many ways today. I intend to lead in building a seminary that serves all Southern Baptists, that is committed to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, and by God’s grace, will find a seminary that the vast majority of Southern Baptists are both proud of and pleased with.”
Allen added that throughout the process God has placed a great love in his and his wife’s heart for everything about Midwestern. “Over the last several months, the Lord has given us a love for people we are yet to know and a seminary we are yet to reside at,” he said. “We are zealous to get there and invest our lives to the Midwestern Seminary community and to see God do a great work within that community.”
Trustee chairman Kevin Shrum voiced excitement and confidence in the trustee vote to bring Allen on as Midwestern’s leader.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to announce the election of Jason Allen as the fifth president of Midwestern Seminary,” Shrum said. “In addition to a tremendous student body, a fine faculty and a great staff, we now have a new president that will help us embark on a new phase in the history of Midwestern. So, we are very excited about moving forward, about the future, and about what God is going to continue to do at Midwestern.” Shrum is pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
Allen, as a member of Southern Seminary’s executive cabinet since January 2006, has been vice president of institutional advancement since 2009 and was executive assistant to the president from 2006-09. He also has taught courses in personal spiritual disciplines, pastoral ministry and preaching at Southern since 2007.
Emphasizing that during his administration Midwestern will be “absolutely committed to the Great Commission,” Allen outlined his approach to leading the seminary into the future.
“We are a denomination of the Great Commission,” Allen said. “This will be a seminary of the Great Commission, and I will be a leader that leads the seminary to fulfill the Great Commission.”
Allen added that he foresees two specific ways of achieving this climate.
“We want to build a robust campus community culture,” Allen said. “It will be marked by godliness, fellowship, a place that every square inch of the campus is family friendly and a place where there is a sense of Great Commission commonality and a sense of being here to train to learn to serve the local church.”
Secondly, Allen said he intends for Midwestern to be known as “the school that is steadfastly committed to serving the local church.”
“I want every faculty member, every aspect of the curriculum and everything we do to have a laser-like focus on serving the churches, and specifically the churches within the Southern Baptist Convention,” Allen said.
Allen, in other ministerial roles, has been senior pastor of Muldraugh Baptist Church in Muldraugh, Ky., and has worked in varying positions at churches in Alabama and Kentucky since 1998.
He holds Ph.D. and master of divinity degrees from Southern and an undergraduate degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. Allen and his wife have five children, Anne-Marie, 9; Caroline, 8; William, 7; Alden, 5; and Elizabeth, 4.
Allen was officially announced as a nominee on Sept. 5 by Midwestern’s presidential search team. That team was led by Bill Bowyer, who spoke of the confidence the team had in nominating Allen.
“Dr. Allen has broad and insightful experience into the inner-workings of a seminary,” Bowyer said. “That, coupled with his gracious manner, his loving heart and his pastoral spirit – he’s going to make a perfect match for Midwestern and we’re anticipating wonderful days ahead.”
Bowyer, who pastors Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., added that things setting Allen apart from the other candidates included his previous seminary experience and answers during hours of discussion about numerous matters pertaining to the seminary, but ultimately it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.
“Prayer, fasting and following the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit led us to him to the point that seven of us unanimously agreed that ‘This is the man God set aside for us at Midwestern Seminary,’” Bowyer said.
Shrum concurred and added that the entire selection process hinged on the team’s willingness to listen to a number of seminary constituencies to learn what was desired in the next leader. From there, the search team formulated a presidential profile.
“We weren’t operating in a vacuum because we had been listening to what students, faculty and personnel were saying,” Shrum said. “Those inputs helped guide us in the search, and we felt like Dr. Allen addressed a lot of those issues.”
Midwestern Seminary has been in search of a successor to R. Philip Roberts since his resignation in February. Robin D. Hadaway, the Seminary’s professor of missions, had served as interim president since Feb. 10.
Trustee leaders spoke high praise for what Hadaway accomplished in the interim.
“Dr. Hadaway combined the right skills at the right time for this transitional period,” Shrum said.
Bowyer added that Hadaway “has done a masterful job at the seminary. He will be very helpful in making it a very smooth transition to hand the presidential baton to Jason Allen. So, we’re deeply indebted to you, Dr. Hadaway.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian Koonce, staff writer of The Pathway, contributed to this article.)