Passion for the Past, Excitement for the Future

Dr. Paul M. Martin, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology

“Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

(Proverbs 29:18 KJV)


My good friend and partner in ministry while pastoring years ago in Los Angeles, the late Dr. Edward Victor Hill  Sr., pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church of South Los Angeles used to say with great reflection “My, My, My!”

As I approach the end of my first term of service as President of the American Baptist Seminary of the West I can only say about the journey thus far, “My, My, My! What a ride!”   We have experienced the passion and pervasive presence of the great past of our seminary with the joy that God is leading us into a very exciting and progressive future.

Three years ago as a part of my introduction to campus and community life and the responsibility of administration of the seminary I used as a theme the Scripture listed above from Proverbs 29:18 as I defined the process we would undertake in our administration as we looked at our seminaries future.  

We envisioned the need for our seminary staff and faculty to work together in a collegial way; to seek ways to increase the student body numbers, to extend our services beyond the walls of the campus into church and community; to refurbish and develop our donor base; to develop new and exciting streams of financial support; to work with the Board of Trustees in enhancing their governance skills; to develop a greater appreciation for diversity; connect with the regions of our denomination in a different way; to find ways to secure the future of our seminary financially; and to change the culture of the seminary in order that people would have a greater appreciation for our seminary as a theological institution.

I can say that we have just begun the journey and commend the members of our faculty, staff, alumni and trustees for joining me in this vision and journey into the future.

What lies ahead for us is as precious and promising as the great legacy of the past.

  • We have defined our future in the very exciting 2012-2017 Strategic Plan approved by our Board of Trustees in their February, 2012 meeting.
  • We are moving in the direction of increasing our student body numbers. 
  • We are strengthening the ties that bind us to our alumni, churches and regions.
  • We are working hard to be inclusive as we reach out to our supporting denominational connections with the Pacific Coast Baptist Association (PCBA), Progressive Baptist Church, the National Baptist Churches USA, African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ), Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME). We are committed totally to increasing the number of students from our American Baptist family as we reach out more and more to our ABC Churches.
  • We are working hard in helping the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) to vision her future.
  • We are pursuing with great energy the extension of our services through our “Seminary without Walls” Proposal in Los Angeles California, Denver Colorado and Portland Oregon.

I realize that the above bulleted items reflect only the tip of the iceberg for our seminary. We have so much more to do to make sure that our seminary is the place where men and women desire to invest their future in theological education.

The challenges for the future are great but in no way overwhelming. We’ve overcome greater obstacles and still we are here. We can never forget our past and if we do we are doomed to repeat it. We are called upon to seize the future that God has for us.

I believe in the power of a praying community and solicit your prayers and support in the efforts needed to make sure that the American Baptist Seminary is secure in the future.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support. Thank you for being that committee of one, speaking a good word for the seminary. Thank you for being that one who told another one that ABSW is a good place to study in preparation for their ministry.

Our future calls for our community: alumni, churches and regions to find ways to increase financial support to the seminary. This is critical and this is my closing challenge to all of us.

May God bless all of us and especially the future of the American Baptist Seminary of the West.


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