Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond trustees announced Dec. 13 the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-aligned school will be shutting down sooner than previously announced.
Last month trustees said the first free-standing seminary started as an alternative to the six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries during a schism in the late 20th century would close at the end of the current academic year, due to “financial pressures.”
After further review of the seminary finances by legal counsel, according to trustee chair Bill Wilson, the board determined to end day-to-day operations at the end of January.
“We deeply regret having to take this action,” said Wilson, director of the Center for Healthy Churches and a member of the Baptist News Global board of directors. “No one wants to further disrupt the lives of our faculty, staff and students.”
Wilson said the current board inherited a financial crisis that has been building for several years, leaving inadequate cash flow to cover expenses. With only one asset left to liquidate and not in a position to borrow additional funds, Wilson said trustees decided to move the closing date up to the end of a three-week term in January.
Nine students scheduled to graduate in May can complete their BTSR degrees by cross-registering at sister schools. Most faculty and staff will lose jobs Jan. 31, except for a “minimal” staff to provide student services, prepare for graduation ceremonies May 25 and wrap up business operations.
BTSR is launching a campaign to raise funds for severance for full-time faculty and staff members, the seminary said in a statement. Three donors have pledged $160,000 in matching gifts, and more information is forthcoming in a few days.