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The Missionary Baptist Seminary and Institute serves as the oldest educational institution among Missionary Baptists in the state of Arkansas. The school fulfills the role of training pastors in the Bible and the foundational principles of pastoral work.
The Missionary Baptist Seminary and Institute was started on April 1, 1934, when Antioch Baptist Church, located at 22nd and Brown streets in Little Rock (Pulaski County), passed a motion during a regular business meeting to start the school. The Great Depression led to the closing of the Missionary Baptist College of Sheridan (Grant County), and the new seminary was started in response. Conceived by pastor Benjamin Marcus Bogard and two other men, J. Louis Guthrie of Oklahoma and Conrad Nathan Glover, the school filled a gap in the education of Missionary Baptist preachers, Christian teachers, and other church workers in the state. Guthrie was appointed the first teacher and president of the school. Classes started in October 1934 with an enrollment of fifty-six students.
Guthrie summarized the teaching philosophy of the school in 1934: “This school must serve a definite purpose and that purpose to be entirely for preachers and Christian workers. Anything that might be worldly in its plans and programs or that might be seized on by any self seeking individual to further his own interests is to be left out of consideration in the establishment of this school.” Guthrie died suddenly in 1945, and Benjamin M. Bogard succeeded him as president. Lawton Durant Foreman replaced Bogard in 1946 and served the school until 1966. Under his leadership, the school built a new building at 3310 Asher Avenue. During his tenure, the school received certification for Veteran’s Benefits and certification for Immigration and Naturalization Services, which enable the school to have foreign students and veteran students to receive GI Bill benefits.
Paul Goodwin replaced Foreman in 1966 and served until 1971. In 1968, Goodwin led the school in purchasing its present location at 5225 Stagecoach Road. The move was due to aging facilities and the need for more space. Vernon Lierly served as pastor and president from 1971 to 1973 and was succeeded by John E. Owen, who presided over the construction of new apartments, school buildings, and dormitories. The school was chartered by the State of Arkansas to grant degrees in December 1973. The degrees offered by the school include associate’s degrees in Bible and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in Bible languages and theology.
Judge Clifton James replaced Owen in 1986 and served until 1989. During his tenure, the final payments for the facilities were made. Donald Price became pastor of Antioch and president of the school in 1989 and served until 1998. Carroll Koon became pastor and president in 1998 and serves presently.
The vast majority of the school’s students come from Arkansas, though it also has, at present, students from at least five other states and countries. The student count for the fall of 2007 was 109. This includes 102 male and seven female students. Most graduates become pastors and missionaries within the fellowship of churches known as the American Baptist Association formed in 1924 in Texarkana (Miller County). Graduates have served as missionaries in ten foreign countries and as pastors in forty-four states. One particularly notable graduate was Dr. Albert Garner, a writer, debater, and founder of Florida Baptist Schools.
The school publishes one of the oldest Baptist papers in the South, The Missionary Baptist Searchlight. The paper started in the 1880s with W. A. Clark as editor.
For additional information:Ashcraft, Robert, et al. Pioneer Faith: The History of Missionary Baptist Associations and Churches in Arkansas from 1818 to 1920. Malvern, AR: State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches in Arkansas, 1994.
History and Archives Committee, American Baptist Association. History of the American Baptist Association. Mabelvale, AR: Ashcraft Publications, 2000.
Missionary Baptist Seminary. http://www.mb-seminary.net (accessed August 15, 2007).
Terry B. ParrishMissionary Baptist Seminary
Last Updated 12/4/2009
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