Cooperative Baptist Fellowship leaders in Texas joined CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley in pledging support for individuals and families affected by Hardin-Simmons University’s decision to close Logsdon Seminary, a theological education partner of the Georgia-based Fellowship.
“The events of the past few days have given rise to much speculation as to the motives and incentives for the Hardin-Simmons board of trustees’ abrupt decision to close the seminary, and the days to come will hopefully bring to light answers to the questions raised by the seminaries’ faithful supporters,” representatives of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas said in an open letter Feb. 17. “However, at this point in time, we wish simply to express our grief for the loss of this Christ-led institution and our prayerful support for the individuals and families most immediately affected.”
CBF of Texas moderator Stephanie Nash, retired associate pastor at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, received her M.Div. from Logsdon Seminary in December 2014 to help prepare her for a second career after 25 years in teaching.
Nash joined CBF of Texas Coordinator Rick McClatchy, past moderator Kelly Burkhart, pastor of Baptist Temple in Houston; and moderator-elect Garrett Vickery, pastor of Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, in affirming Baxley’s offer of “full support” to students, faculty and alumni in transition and pledge to pursue “a new and still more faithful covenant between congregations, theological schools and our Fellowship for the calling and preparing of new generations of women and men whom God is calling to the ministry.”
“CBF of Texas was formed as a voice for those Baptists who opposed fundamentalism in our state and, together with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, stood in opposition to the takeover tactics demonstrated by the Southern Baptist Convention in other parts of the country in the 1980s and 1990s,” the Texas CBF leaders said.
“We have withstood the test of time together to this point, unified in the intent to allow religious freedom and Baptist principles of the sacredness of scripture, the priesthood of the believer, and the autonomy of the local church to serve as our guiding light as we worked together to bring Christ’s love and mission to our state, our campuses, and our communities,” they said. “Now, it seems an ultra-conservative spirit is again moving among some of our fellow Baptists in Texas, employing questionable political tactics to limit the religious freedoms we fought so hard to protect.”
Leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas were active in moderate resistance to the Southern Baptist Convention takeover in the 1980s and early supports of the breakaway CBF in the 1990s. Budgetary decisions in those days prompted SBC loyalists to separate into the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention founded in 1998.
The BGCT included CBF as a giving option in the Cooperative Program unified giving plan from 1994 until 2018, when the Texas Baptist executive board asked churches to send their money directly to CBF after the Fellowship dropped a policy forbidding the employment of LGBTQ individuals.
Hardin-Simmons said university trustees decided to close Logsdon Seminary in context of a larger financial plan designed to close an operating deficit by more than $4 million. Program closings will eliminate 17 faculty positions, 14 administration jobs by attrition and addition reductions to be “communicated as soon as we are able,” the administration said Feb. 14.
Robert Sellers | Losing Logsdon Seminary: broken commitments and wounded spirits