Mark was born in Missouri where he has lived his entire life. He has watched with appreciation as Central has overcome challenges, such as maintaining relevance in changing times with programs like create.
“I will be fifty soon, and the first half of my life has been spent preparing for the second,” says Mark. “I want to use my bachelor’s degree in religion for something of value for the Kingdom of Heaven. I am grateful for this place, and create will help me better understand and interpret all that has been behind me and all that is ahead.”
MIT First D.Min. Commencement
In March the first ten graduates of Central Baptist Seminary’s new Doctor of Ministry program in congregational health will walk across a stage to receive well-earned diplomas. Although they will be Central graduates, this commencement will take place far from Kansas in Myanmar (Burma). Rather than hometowns in such places as Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, or Wisconsin; these students hail from regions called Ayeyarwaddy, Mandalay, and Yangon.
They are the first fruits of an academic partnership between Myanmar Institute of Theology and Central Baptist Theological Seminary that began in 2011. Actually, an earlier relationship between the two schools dating back to the 1950s laid groundwork for this 21st century undertaking.
Goals of the program include offering an accredited graduate theological degree not otherwise available in Myanmar while enriching a missional ministry curriculum for doctoral students on both sides of the globe, as well as student and faculty exchanges, cross cultural texts, and relationship-building.
Although differences between the two student groups abound – Myanmar has 135 tribes and ethnic groups, many languages and dialects, ongoing civil violence, an authoritarian military regime, and a majority Buddhist culture – there are strong Baptist ties between us (we celebrated this year the 200th anniversary of Adoniram and Ann Judson’s missionary influence in Burma) and many challenges and opportunities common to the church worldwide.
One shared value between clergy leaders in both our countries is the desire to strengthen the church so that it might more effectively serve the mission of God. To that end, the Doctor of Ministry program enables seasoned pastors and church leaders to develop and carry out practical projects in their ministry contexts and write dissertations about the experience. Project/dissertation themes by Myanmar doctoral candidates will be familiar to church leaders in American culture: advocacy for women in leadership, implications of the anti-drug movement, ministering to displaced persons, and implications of different perspectives on congregational health.
Central’s president, Dr. Molly T. Marshall, will be making the trip to Yangon in March to stand alongside MIT’s president, Dr. Samuel Ling, to award the first degrees of a historic program in service to a healthy church that is faithful to God’s call all over the world.