RICHMOND, Va. — Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond is only $100,000 shy of reaching its $1 million matching gifts goal, seminary administrators announced Feb. 14, adding they expected the campaign to be successfully concluded.
The “Opening the Door to the Future” campaign, launched last year during the seminary’s 20th anniversary celebration, will assist the school as it begins a process of moving to a new location in the city where it was founded two decades ago.
The campaign was sparked last April when five anonymous donors pledged to match up to $500,000 in contributions for a total of $1 million — about half the goal in transition expenses set by the seminary’s trustees that spring when they approved a plan to sell the current campus and relocate.
“The response to our matching campaign has been splendid,” said seminary president Ron Crawford. “From $1 gifts to $65,000 gifts, people have stepped forward to support our mission of preparing women and men for ministry. Given the rate of response so far, there may be less than eight weeks left to give to the campaign and have a gift matched. Baptists may not support gambling, but they love to double their money.”
Tim Heilman, the seminary’s vice president of institutional advancement, agreed the campaign may soon be successfully completed.
“We are thrilled that with the leadership of our board and other key and loyal individuals, we have reached over 80 percent of our $1 million goal,” he said. “Our hope and prayer is to involve others who will help us reach our goal shortly.”
BTSR’s anticipated move is in part a response to long-term financial challenges. The seminary has a debt of more than $6 million, most of it incurred at the outset of the seminary’s existence with the purchase and renovation of four buildings originally owned by the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. The cost of maintaining those buildings — each more than 60 years old — combined with a weakened economy have posed challenges to the seminary’s finances.
But Crawford has emphasized the relocation proposal also emerged from a “new collaborative and creative vision” for the school which will enhance its mission to train leaders for local ministry.
BTSR, which held its first classes in the fall of 1991, has been housed for most of the past 20 years in buildings adjacent to Union Theological Seminary on Richmond’s Northside. Trustees’ plans call for the buildings to be sold and a new facility constructed elsewhere in the city. They also hope to raise $10 million in endowment funds over the next decade, significantly increasing its current endowment of $5.5 million.
BTSR is one of 15 theological partners of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and one of two seminaries funded by the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
Robert Dilday ([email protected]) is managing editor of the Religious Herald.