After 10 months as interim president of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, Baptist scholar Molly Marshall has been named president of the St. Paul, Minn., school.
United Theological Seminary is a United Church of Christ institution founded in 1962 as “a welcoming, ecumenical school that embraces all denominations and faith traditions.” It bills itself as “on the cutting edge of progressive theological thought leadership” and a place to “train leaders who dismantle systems of oppression, explore multifaith spirituality and push the boundaries of knowledge.”
The seminary currently enrolls 206 students in a gender-diverse student body.
Raised in a Southern Baptist home in Northeastern Oklahoma and educated in Southern Baptist schools, Marshall became a pioneer among Baptist women in ministry. She rose to prominence as the first female theology professor and associate dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. However, as fundamentalists gained control of the SBC and its institutions, she became a lightning rod for those who oppose women in ministry and was forced out in 1994 after 11 years of teaching there.
She landed at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kan., where she served 25 years, including 16 as president. There, she became the first woman to lead a Baptist seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Her accomplishments included reviving enrollment and restoring financial viability through leadership, fundraising and teaching.
One year after her retirement from Central Baptist Seminary, she was named interim president at United Theological, where she followed President Lew Zeidner, who retired.
“Rev. Dr. Molly Marshall is an effective leader among leaders,” said Frank Yamada, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools. “She has a proven track record of moving theological schools into areas of thriving. This is incredible news for United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and for the church. Her leadership is a hopeful sign for United’s next chapter of living into its mission.”
In less than a year as interim president at United, the school has reported “a transformative season,” including enrollment growth, increase in financial support, a renewed strategic plan, a new endowed chair in world religions and intercultural studies; and a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish a Leadership Center for Social Justice.
“Over the last year, with the presence and good work of Rev. Dr. Molly T. Marshall as interim president, United has embarked on a promising new future”
“Over the last year, with the presence and good work of Rev. Dr. Molly T. Marshall as interim president, United has embarked on a promising new future,” said David Anderson, chair of the board of trustees. “There is still much to be done and Rev. Dr. Marshall is, no doubt, the person for such a time as this. For that reason, the board of trustees has exercised its option to renew and extend Rev. Dr. Marshall’s tenure, reviewed annually over the next three years. With these commitments secured, she is no longer ‘interim’ — she is now president.”
An early influential figure in the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Marshall currently holds ministerial credentials in the American Baptist Churches USA and in September 2021 received dual standing with the Minnesota Conference of the UCC.
Learn more about Molly Marshall’s life and career at the “Brother Molly” podcast produced by Good Faith Media.
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