Skip to site content

Reaction and Response: Logsdon Seminary Closing

image_pdfimage_print

The news began circulating late on Friday evening, Feb. 7.

Logsdon – the Baptist seminary at Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) – would be closing.

A Baptist Standard report noted the decision was released by the university at approximately 9 p.m.

The seminary was formed in 2004 as part of the Logsdon School of Theology that launched in 1983 and began offering a master of divinity degree in 1995.

A subsequent clarification from the school explained that Logsdon School of Theology would continue offering undergraduate education, while the seminary that offered graduate level degrees would cease operations.

A “teach out” option will be offered to current students, which would allow them to complete their degree programs. This includes international students who have visa requirements and considerations.

EthicsDaily.com reached out to several people connected to the seminary for their reaction and response to the news:

“I am devastated at the decision to close Logsdon Seminary,” said Kyle Tubbs, who graduated in 2010 with a master of divinity degree and currently serves as president of the Logsdon Alumni Council. “This place means so incredibly much to me. Numerous students and alumni also reached out to me over the past couple days to express their grief. It is hard to articulate the collective pain we feel today.”

Tubbs made available to EthicsDaily.com an open letter sent by alumni to university leadership on Feb. 5, which emphasized the signatories’ support for Logsdon Seminary and requested dialogue regarding the seminary’s future. It was signed by over 50 alumni.

No response to the letter was received from the university’s president, provost or board chair before the Feb. 7 announcement, Tubbs said. A follow-up message sent after the news broke has not been answered.

EthicsDaily.com reached out to HSU President Eric Bruntmyer via email for comment on the decision to close the seminary but has not heard back at the time of publication.

Seminary dean Robert Ellis also has not responded to an email request for comment.

Carlo Serna, a second-year student, told EthicsDaily.com that he “was in complete shock” upon learning of the decision.

The seminary has been a place of refuge for students, he explained, but now it is filled “with anxiety, disappointment and sadness.”

While acknowledging the financial challenges facing the university, Serna described the seminary’s closure as “premature and questionable,” detailing the grief and uncertainty that both students and faculty are experiencing.

“Seminary professors always caution young ministers that change and loss are a part of ministry, and the change to Logsdon’s future is no exception,” he said. “Through the painful loss of Logsdon, our professors are demonstrating the pangs of ministry and the power of Christ’s resurrecting power, and I am grateful for their lesson.”

Third-year master of divinity student Kelsey Higbee described Logsdon as “an incredibly special place” in an email to EthicsDaily.com, offering a prayer that “God would allow the impact of Logsdon to go beyond our wildest imaginations and that this impact would show the love of Christ to all people across the world.”

“While it is hard to feel that during this time, I know God is alongside us, grieving this loss and working through this pain to create a generation of faithful ministers ready to accept the call of Jesus in our lives,” she said.

Jonathan Davis, pastor of Beale Memorial Baptist Church in Tappahannock, Virginia, is grieving again over the loss of a beloved institution from which he holds a degree.

He received a master of divinity degree from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia, in 2009, which closed in January 2019, and a doctor of ministry degree from Logsdon Seminary in 2019.

“The administration and trustees of Hardin-Simmons University have yet to provide any meaningful answers to serious questions regarding this decision, and I hope in days ahead they will be more forthcoming,” he told EthicsDaily.com.

“Logsdon’s legacy is one of deep commitment to the way of Jesus, fierce commitment to the local church and brave commitment to academic freedom and excellence. It is and was everything a great seminary should be.”

Former Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond President Linda McKinnish Bridges expressed empathy for Logsdon alumni, faculty and students in an email to EthicsDaily.com.

“A huge tsunami of sorrow, anger, disbelief, distrust is beginning to appear on the horizon for students, alumni and alumnae, faculty, trustees, churches – just as we experienced in Richmond in early 2019,” Bridges said.

“While the sorrow is unavoidable and most often will work to cloud our vision, don’t forget to remember this place and honor her heritage – together,” she said. “Push back the anger and frustration long enough to honor this sacred place of learning and offer gratitude for what has been accomplished these years. We honor you and the holy work that has been accomplished at Logsdon Seminary.”

Joseph Tobias, an international student from Nigeria who is graduating in May, told EthicsDaily.com the closure “has created stress and anxiety for our international students,” as they are uncertain about the financial and visa status implications for them moving forward.

“Logsdon’s support for international students is unparalleled. The financial commitment from Logsdon’s leadership took away heavy burdens from her international students,” he said. “Knowing that this is not the situation in many schools creates a lot of fear for the future and anxiety for the moment.”

Becky Jackson, senior pastor of Northwest Baptist Church of Ardmore, Oklahoma, who graduated in 2012 with a master of divinity degree, referred EthicsDaily.com to a Feb. 10 statement by Texas Baptist Women in Ministry (TXBWIM) that she helped craft.

TXBWIM expressed grief at the decision to close the seminary, highlighting the role of many Logsdon alumni in helping form the organization and noting that “the loss of Logsdon will be felt across Texas Baptist life and beyond.”

CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley offered thanks in a statement published the same day for the 25-year partnership between CBF and Logsdon, highlighting the significant impact of the school’s graduates and urging prayers for faculty, students and alumni during this time of grief and transition.

Logsdon students are among those at several theological programs who have received scholarships from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Shock, confusion and anger were the emotions Jeff Lee felt upon hearing the news.

Having spent 10 years enrolled at HSU to obtain three degrees, including a master of divinity degree from Logsdon, Lee’s life, ministry and faith have been indelibly shaped by both faculty and fellow students. He now serves along with his wife, Alicia, as CBF field personnel in Macedonia.

A miscarriage and subsequent crisis of faith were two tragic experiences for the Lees during their time at HSU.

“It was the Logsdon family that came alongside of us and got us through that tragedy,” he told EthicsDaily.com. “God used Logsdon to help me. The faculty there opened my mind to a richer and fuller faith.”

“The board of trustees at HSU might have trouble seeing the impact that Logsdon had and has on so many people because the school is small, but those small number of alumni are impacting the world in great ways,” Lee said. “I will miss Logsdon. It was the best place.”

Editor’s note: EthicsDaily.com columns addressing the closure of Logsdon Seminary are available here.