May 2020 News Perspective Online

Perkins Launches Ecumenical Endeavor with Logsdon Seminary

Perkins School of Theology is collaborating as part of a group of institutions committed to preserving the heritage of Logsdon Seminary, in light of its closing next year by Hardin-Simmons University (HSU). The group is developing plans for extending and expanding the seminary’s “big-hearted Baptist” legacy into the future.

Citing financial stress, the university in Abilene, Texas, announced in February it would close the seminary. HSU is offering final contracts to seminary faculty through May 2021 as part of a teach-out process. Previously, Logsdon had been singled out for criticism as too progressive by a few conservative West Texas pastors.

Representatives of Logsdon faculty and alumni consulted with leadership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas, Fellowship Southwest, the Baptist Houses of Studies at Perkins and Texas Christian University’s Brite Divinity School. Congregations and donors committed to training ministers also are involved in the conversations.

From those discussions, the group committed to care for Logsdon students and faculty and to develop options for Logsdon students who may be interested in completing their seminary degrees at Perkins or Brite. They also have considered how Logsdon faculty can continue to prepare women and men for ministry, embodying the Logsdon legacy in a cooperative effort with the other two schools.

“We welcome this new partnership with Logsdon and look forward to welcoming both students and faculty into our community,” said Perkins Dean Craig Hill. “The Baptist House of Studies, led by Jaime Clark-Soles – an internationally known Baptist clergywoman and professor – is on the cutting edge of providing a home to Baptist students who seek a quality theological education. Perkins School of Theology will certainly be enriched by the gifts and graces of former Logsdon students and faculty, and we are grateful for this exciting new venture together.”

Looking beyond those immediate concerns, the group has begun planning for long-term ministry preparation that embodies the ethos of Logsdon, a seminary that provided open- hearted, broad-minded ministry training across more than two decades.

Their plans include creating a network that will partner with churches and the participating groups to:

  • Help young people consider careers in ministry, nurturing them as they discern God’s plan for their lives.
  • Provide ongoing theological education, steeped in Logsdon’s heritage and traditional Baptist values, offered in conjunction with Perkins and Brite and utilizing professors who have taught at Logsdon.
  • Ensure a strong start for students as they move into vocational ministry by providing mentoring, peer-group development and continuing education.

These plans speak not only to current Logsdon students, but also to the seminary’s alumni, as well as to future ministers who value the seminary’s legacy, said Kyle Tubbs, president of the Logsdon Alumni Council.

“We welcome you, we cherish you, we want to listen to you,” Tubbs said about what he hopes the new venture will communicate to Baptists who feel disenfranchised.

Bob Ellis, dean of Logsdon, said serving at the school the last 24 years has been the greatest privilege of his career but looked ahead with optimism.

“We grieve that the seminary will not continue as a part of Hardin-Simmons,” Ellis acknowledged, but added, “These plans hold the promise of preserving some of the great spirit of Logsdon Seminary and transforming it into a seedbed for growing new ways to equip ministers for our rapidly changing church and world.”

The overall group hopes to help Baptists, particularly in the Southwest, coalesce around a fresh vision of partnership and theological education, said Marv Knox, coordinator of Fellowship Southwest.

“All these partners see their plans as a redemptive opportunity emerging out of the Logsdon crisis,” Knox said. “They will open a path to a broad ecumenical endeavor that prepares women and men for ministry in churches across the Southwest and beyond. And as they minister with grace, skill and vision, they will extend Logsdon’s legacy for generations.”