It’s Monday, March 18, 2013. I’m up having coffee and getting ready for an all-day trustee meeting at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. I’m wondering if there is any way I can bring heaven to earth today.
I think there is. I think BTSR is, in itself, a way of bringing heaven to earth. For more than twenty years this school has been training men and women for ministry in the local church, and some of those men and women—Sterling Severns, Mandy England Cole, Justin Joplin, and Erin Spengeman, just to name a few—are out there blessing our city right now.
In the beginning, the idea of training women for ministry seemed radical and new, especially for Baptists. These days I think we understand that if the church is going to have a future it’s going to take all of us, women and men alike, and the women at BTSR are proving themselves extremely capable. Jim Flamming (my predecessor at FBC Richmond, who now teaches preaching at the seminary) says that the women in his classes are consistently the best preachers.
That shouldn’t surprise us.
As I’ve heard someone else say, women were “last at the cross, first at the tomb.” They were with Jesus when the disciples had fled. And Mary Magdalene, if you go by John’s version of the story, preached the first Easter sermon on record: “I have seen the Lord!” she said. Short, simple, to the point:
Hard to improve on that.
So, I’m going to spend the day doing what I can to ensure the future of the seminary. Things are looking much better than they did just a few months ago. The seminary has sold some property that had become a huge financial burden and gotten itself free to fulfill its mission in a leaner, more sustainable way. Ron Crawford, the seminary’s president, seems practically giddy when he talks about the future of the school these days and the students—characteristically—seem eager to go forward even if they have to do it in another building.
So I hope you will say a prayer for me today, a prayer for the trustees of BTSR, and a prayer for the future of a school that is determined to go on training men and women for ministry in the local church.
Lord knows we need them.