Midwestern Seminary names new undergraduate dean; announces record fall enrollment, largest gift in its history

Tim Sweetman/MBTS communications

KANSAS CITY – During the fall meeting at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on Oct. 21, the Board of Trustees elected a new dean of Midwestern Baptist College, celebrated a record fall enrollment, and announced the largest undesignated gift in the school’s history.

New college leader elected

In the afternoon plenary session, the trustees voted unanimously to elect John Mark Yeats as dean of Midwestern Baptist College and to serve as associate professor of historical theology.

Midwestern President Jason K. Allen celebrated the news and expressed his vision for the college’s future.

“I am very pleased to announce John Mark Yeats as the dean of Midwestern Baptist College,” Allen said. “With his election, we are positioning the undergraduate school for maximum growth. One of the greatest strengths Dr. Yeats possesses is the ability to connect with college students. Dr. Yeats is equipped to lead the college in preparing these students for future kingdom service.

“We need a robust undergraduate program at Midwestern,” Allen continued, “and John Mark Yeats possesses the skills and experience to lead our college well into the future.”

Yeats comes to Midwestern from Fort Worth, Texas, where he served as the senior pastor at Normandale Baptist Church. Before pastoring there, he was a professor of church history at Southwestern Seminary.

The newly-elected Midwestern Baptist College dean earned his Ph.D. in church history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He also holds degrees from Southern Seminary, Oxford University and Criswell College. He has authored three books, Franchising McChurch: Feeding our Obsession with Easy Christianity; The Time is Come: The Rise of British Missions to the Jews, 1808-1818; and Worldviews: Think for Yourself about How We See God. He has also contributed articles to multiple journals as well as the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization.

With a start date of Nov. 1, Yeats said he is looking forward to moving his family to Kansas City and to what the future holds at Midwestern Baptist College.

“I am extremely excited to be joining the excellent faculty of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,” Yeats said. “As dean of the College, I look forward to grounding young men and women in the truth of Jesus Christ and in His Word. My prayer is that we train a generation of students prepared to engage the shifting tides of our culture with a missionary heart.”

Organizational restructuring

In addition to naming a new undergraduate dean, Midwestern Seminary also announced the re-structuring of several administrative offices. The most visible move included reworking the existing Student Development and Institutional Advancement Offices into what will now be known as the Office of Institutional Relations. Led by Charles Smith, the current vice president of Institutional Advancement, the new division for Institutional Relations will oversee enrollment management, institutional advancement, communications, the Center for Church Planting and Partnering, and campus culture.

Discussing the future of the division, Smith said, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the seminary as the vice president for Institutional Relations. This new structure will afford unprecedented opportunities for our various offices to work together toward our broader enrollment and advancement goals.”

Record fall enrollment celebrated

The trustees also celebrated Allen’s announcement of the seminary’s record-breaking fall enrollment – which saw a six percent increase in student head count and making it the largest fall class in school history.

“We are truly thankful to be able to announce a record enrollment for this fall semester,” Allen said. “This is extremely positive news for our seminary. We clearly see this as God’s blessing and providence in that He, and Southern Baptist churches, are entrusting us with training and preparing future ministers of the gospel.”

Even with the promising news, Allen continued to look forward, saying, “We’ve had a great year, but we need a great decade. As we move forward with the vision of existing for the Church, and trust in our Lord’s leading, we are positioning ourselves well to do just that.”

Historic gift given to Midwestern

During Allen’s presidential report, he announced that Midwestern Seminary had recently received the largest undesignated gift in the school’s history – a donation of $500,000. The gift donation coincided with the launching of the Midwestern Seminary Legacy Fund, which is intended to defer tuition costs for the institution’s students. Allen also spoke about the desire for the school to have an expanding ministry footprint, and how this gift is a large part of that mission.

“We are grateful to God for this historic gift and all it represents,” Smith said. “Beyond its immediate impact, the gift is a powerful reminder of the stewardship we bear to serve the churches of this denomination.”

Allen noted that the donors of this gift are “godly people who have fallen in love with the vision of the school.” He added that this donation was provided in faith, as the family is new to Midwestern Seminary, and that they had never even been to campus.

In other news, the Midwestern Seminary Board of Trustees:

• Announced David Dockery, president of Union University, would serve as the distinguished professor of Theology and Baptist Studies and would be teaching doctoral-level courses annually.

• Ratified a response to the Southern Baptist Convention referral motion by Ronnie Floyd pertaining to assisting churches with the “challenge of ministry to those suffering from mental health issues …” Midwestern Seminary responded saying, “Central to our mission is to equip students to minister to the whole person, including mental, emotional and, especially, spiritual needs. To this end, Midwestern Seminary is pleased to offer counseling degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels …”

• Approved increased security measures on campus, including 24-hour security monitoring, security gates at the north and south campus entrances, and the hiring of a full-time, trained security force. At night, all campus visitors will now enter solely through the main entrance, allowing for tighter security and better protection of campus families.