By Robert Dilday
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond will hold classes in a new, still-to-be-determined location this fall, following action by its trustees March 18 to authorize President Ron Crawford to sign a leasing agreement to house the 21-year-old seminary.
The trustee action, taken during the board’s spring meeting, was the next step in developing a new business model which includes relocating the seminary from its campus on Richmond’s north side, where it has been since 1997.
At a called meeting in January, trustees approved the sale of two of the seminary’s four buildings to Veritas Classical Christian School — action the board reaffirmed March 18.
Though the new location is not yet settled, “several locations are under consideration, and an agreement could be reached within weeks,” Crawford said in a statement.
Since relocation depends on completing the sale and transferring the property, the move may not occur until Aug. 1 or later, Crawford said, though he added it will be finalized by the opening of classes on Sept. 9, and likely in time for summer classes which begin on Aug. 5.
The seminary’s May term will be held on the current campus. Interim office space will be found for faculty and staff in June and July, when classes are not in session.
In March 2011, trustees approved the “orderly selling” of BTSR’s campus and eventual relocation, both to broaden its mission and to achieve financial stability. The school moved to its current location in 1997, when it bought buildings originally owned by the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, across the street from Union Theological Seminary.
Included in the sale to Veritas — a private K-12 school with about 270 students currently based at a Presbyterian church in Richmond — are Graves and Virginia halls and two nearby parking lots. The seminary will temporarily retain ownership of Kraemer Hall, but will sell it on or before June 30, 2020. Veritas has first right of refusal on that building. The fourth building — the former nursing dormitory of a closed hospital nearby — is on the market but not part of the sale to Veritas.
Crawford said the remaining contingency on the sale is approval by the Richmond City Council of a zoning change to allow a K-12 private school. The property’s current special use permit restricts it to graduate educational programs. The council will consider the change May 28 and if approved, the sale and transfer will occur soon after, he said.