The Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, a theological education partner of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, will establish offices and begin offering a full master of divinity degree on the campus of Simmons College of Kentucky, a Historically Black College and University located in Louisville, beginning with the 2018 spring semester.
The seminary, founded in 2001 and accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, is currently located on the campus of Georgetown College near Lexington, Ky. BSK President David Cassady said the graduate school will maintain a presence in Georgetown and is involved in conversations about additional ways those two institutions can build on the partnership.
The move to Louisville puts the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky at the center of Empower West, an ongoing program spearheaded by Simmons College President Kevin Cosby to improve the lives of African Americans and sensitize white Christians to social and economic disparities that exist in their community.
Cosby, who also serves pastor of St. Stephen Church in West Louisville, called the relocation “a reversal of the white flight of former generations.”
“This is perhaps the first time in history that an accredited seminary has moved onto the campus of an HBCU,” Cosby said. “And we say, ‘Welcome BSK.’”
Designated an HBCU in 2015, Simmons College entered an agreement with the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky in 2016 to explore ways to work together to provide educational opportunities for black students in Louisville.
Cassaday, named president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky in March, said the seminary’s board of trustees accelerated the move toward a full presence in West Louisville in recognition of a growing need for racial reconciliation within the church and society.
“It is critical that we go beyond talking about racial reconciliation and live into it,” Cassady said. “Presence matters, and we look forward to growing and learning as we serve within and alongside this vibrant community.”
The invitation by Simmons College to move to Louisville also makes the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky more accessible to students in western Kentucky and southern Indiana.
Originally founded in 1879 to educate former enslaved people, Simmons College has undergone a renaissance since Cosby, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, became president in 2005.
The school recently added dormitories to accommodate growing admissions in the last five years and is engaged in partnerships including the recent relocation of the National Baptist Convention of America International from Dallas to the Simmons College campus and just announced plans for a retreat and conference center in Louisville.
On Sept. 11 Simmons College is sponsoring a conference on public policy and the educational crisis in black America with the National Baptist Convention of American International, the Progressive National Baptist Convention and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to kick off a three-year Angela Project, named after the first African brought to America as an enslaved person, to advocate for reparative justice in advance of the 400th anniversary of American chattel slavery in 2019.