The seminary that was to be birthed as a named successor to Logsdon Seminary now will be called Jesse C. Fletcher Seminary.
The San Antonio, Texas-based school plans to open this fall with three classes offered, according to Jonathan Davis, vice president for marketing and communications.
Creation of the new school was prompted when trustees and administrators of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, announced in February 2020 the closure of the original Logsdon Seminary, which was a school within the university. That decision was met with outrage by alumni and supporters of the West Texas seminary.
A year later, a coalition of alumni and former faculty and donors announced they would launch a new Logsdon Seminary housed at Baptist Temple in San Antonio.
“It has been a long journey to get where we are at present,” Davis said. “Upon learning of our board’s intention to launch a seminary in San Antonio, another institution filed a trademark on the name ‘Logsdon,’ making it impossible for us to use that name. Our board needed to take time to find a new name we felt was appropriate, and also one that would withstand all potential challenges and objections by outside organizations.”
According to online data available through the Texas Secretary of State’s office March 28, an agent for Fletcher Seminary currently has reserved the name “Logsdon Theological Seminary” as a domestic nonprofit corporation in the state of Texas. An earlier petition to reserve the name “Logsdon Seminary” now has expired. But a search of the U.S. Office of Patent and Trademark website shows that Hardin-Simmons University on Aug. 17, 2020, filed a petition to trademark the name “Logsdon” and was granted the request on April 13, 2021.
The new seminary’s new name honors Jesse Fletcher, 14th president of Hardin-Simmons University and the visionary behind creation of the original Logsdon Seminary. Fletcher died in 2018 at age 87.
“We now have the blessing of the Fletcher family in using the name, a written trademark consent and coexistence agreement with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a trademark on the actual seminary name,” Davis reported. “We are indebted to Tufts for their graciousness in entering into this agreement and are confident that we can now move forward without similar obstacles as we launch the seminary in San Antonio. We feel strongly that nothing of that nature will again impede our simple and sincere desire to train women and men for ministry in the name of Jesus.”
The Fletcher School at Tufts is named for a different person, Austin Barclay Fletcher, a member of Tufts’ class of 1876. There is no relation between the two schools.
The San Antonio startup seminary recently got a boost with a grant from the John and Eula Mae Baugh Foundation of San Antonio. Neither the amount nor the time span of that grant were made public.
“The Baugh gift is the largest gift Fletcher has received to date, and in addition to their gift Fletcher Seminary has roughly two dozen individual and private donors, as well as congregations that have generously given of their resources, including Baptist Temple in San Antonio, and even First Baptist Church of Tulsa,” Davis said. “We have three donors in particular that have pledged significant support over the next two years, and we remain highly motivated to raise additional funds to help make the dream of Fletcher a reality.”
The I-35 corridor that runs through the center of Texas already is awash with Baptist seminaries and Baptist houses of study at universities. Baylor University’s Truett Seminary is based in Waco but also has a campus operating out of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. Wayland Baptist University in San Antonio School of Christian Studies also offers several graduate Christian ministry degrees — including the master of divinity degree.
To the north, the Southern Baptist Convention has Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and Texas Christian University also offers a Baptist Studies program at its Brite Divinity School. In Dallas, Southern Methodist University now offers a Baptist House of Studies at its Perkins Theological Seminary — an enterprise also recently funded by the Baugh Foundation.
Meanwhile back in Abilene, Abilene Christian University — affiliated with the Churches of Christ — began a Baptist Studies Center and hired a former Logsdon professor, Myles Werntz, to lead it.
“The seminary is committed to address the fundamental gaps in current theological education in San Antonio, South Texas and the international community.”
Asked where a new seminary fits into this mix, David replied: “Fletcher Seminary believes that in the present cultural context, ministers must be educated, equipped and empowered to function with compassionate sensitivity to our pluralistic culture. The seminary is committed to address the fundamental gaps in current theological education in San Antonio, South Texas and the international community.”
He cited a study by the Association of Theological Schools that found among the top needs of contemporary theological education are administration, counseling, leadership, active listening, communication skills, interpersonal competency, finance, formation, conflict resolution, and intercultural competency.
“Fletcher will weave these competencies into our core curriculum, giving our students and graduates practical skills needed to be highly contextualized ministers,” he said. “Beginning their first semester, seminary students will begin field placement in a supervised ministry setting. These field placements will primarily be in local churches, denominational agencies, faith-based nonprofits, and other health and human services areas. Each semester, the practicum class will be complemented by two academic classes that help bring academic learning into applied learning and experience.”
Also, the seminary will begin with an intentional hybrid model of in-person and online classes, he added. “Students will come for a week in person at the beginning and end of each semester.”
The Fletcher Seminary website lists additional distinctives of its aspirations to be:
- The most affordable seminary in Texas.
- The most practically driven seminary in Texas.
- Fully ecumenical serving students from a variety of denominations.
- Embracing of international diversity.
- Providing professional coaching services for all alumni for one year after graduation.
- The only one of three San Antonio seminaries fully committed to the equipping of women and men for pastoral ministry.
Don Williford, a former dean at Logsdon Seminary, has been named president of Fletcher Seminary. Kan’Dace Brock, lead pastor of The Message Church in San Antonio, has been named vice president for student engagement and community relations.
Davis listed 14 instructors who already are committed to serve Fletcher Seminary as needed: N. Larry Baker (pastoral theology and pastoral care), Don Williford (biblical studies and pastoral theology), Dan Stiver (theology and philosophy of religion), Rob Sellers (missions), Rick McClatchey (church history), Kan’Dace Brock (spiritual formation and homiletics), Fredric Brock (homiletics), Susan Douglas (chaplaincy pastoral care), Sarah Neely (ethics), Mary Ellen Barrow (chaplaincy pastoral care), M. Lee Weems (practical theology and ministry supervision), Coleman Patterson (ministry leadership), Jonathan Davis (practical theology and sociology of religion), David Little (chaplaincy and legal issues in the church).