A Narrative Overview
During the early to mid-1990s a confluence of events led a number of Kentucky Baptists to seek new and inventive ways of training ministers that reflected the diversity of Baptist identity and worship in the Commonwealth and took into account shifting cultural realities. These events included:
- changes in the theological direction and leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, Kentucky Baptist Convention, and Southern Baptist seminaries;
- the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship; and
- the creation of new Baptist theological schools and houses of study in the South.
As a result, a group of ministers, laity, and theological professors formed a Joint Venture Committee to consider alternative avenues of theological education among Baptists in Kentucky. Their initial gathering, which took place on October 30, 1995, was blessed by the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship and coordinated by its moderator.
By mid-1996, the Joint Venture Committee had made several significant decisions about forming a new and clearly different theological school in Kentucky. Through prayer and conversation, the Committee agreed to prepare women and men for ministry in the church and the world; to value historic Baptist principles while participating in the larger Christian community; and to stress a formational approach emphasizing spiritual growth and the practical dimensions of ministry. Another early important decision was that the school would be free-standing and not under the governance of an existing seminary or college.
The seminary founders saw this new venture in theological education within a broad understanding of the providence of God. Yet a major challenge remained — the choice of a name that would reflect the various rationales for forming the school. The Committee reached consensus on “Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.”
The founders of BSK valued Baptist principles such as the authority of Scripture to transform lives, the priesthood of all believers, the church as gathered congregations of believers, conscientious dissent, freedom from religious coercion, and the importance of partnerships between Baptist congregations, institutions, and individuals. At the same time, the Seminary would affirm the necessity of drawing upon the breadth and depth of the whole Christian tradition to undergird Christian life and formation.
“Seminary” has its roots in a word that refers to a seed plot where things are nurtured and grown. BSK would be a place where students and faculty would learn together to cultivate habits and practices of faithful Christian living, to ask questions, to nurture spiritual gifts, to develop a theological imagination, and to pursue God’s calling on their lives.
Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.
One concern about including “Kentucky” was based on the being perceived as provincial or exclusive of non-Kentuckians. Yet the founders understood that the location in Kentucky would be attractive to students in this region who wanted to stay close to home and would also address the geographical gap between new “moderate” Baptist schools located on the east coast and those in Texas. Kentucky was a vital part of the name.
The work of creating this new school was accomplished formally through the Board of Trustees while many of the practical aspects were moved forward through what had become The Committee for Baptist Seminary of Kentucky (composed of trustees and non-trustees). BSK’s incorporation in the Commonwealth of Kentucky occurred in November of 1996.
Kentucky pastor Dr. Greg C. Earwood was elected as Baptist Seminary of Kentucky’s first president and began on September 1, 2001. In August 2002, the first classes were offered at Calvary Baptist Church in Lexington, which graciously provided for the needs of the Seminary during its first three years of operation. The majority of the faculty teaching load in the early years was covered by Dr. E. Glenn Hinson as Senior Professor of Church History and Spirituality along with Dr. Dalen Jackson, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies.
In 2005, BSK moved to the campus of Lexington Theological Seminary where academic life was highly valued. The two seminaries engaged in the practice of “sharing space and sharing grace” for the next five years. In August 2010, the Seminary joined in its present partnership with Georgetown College, built upon a common Baptist identity, educational excellence, and a sense of permanency. Today BSK continues to engage students in spiritual formation, theological reflection, and practical training as we prepare each other for life and ministry in faithful witness to Jesus Christ in the church and the world.