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.”
The Business Success Story That Informs create
Central’s Story Provides a Model for the Classroom
About seven years ago Central’s future did not exactly look promising. There was significant deferred maintenance at an aging facility, an out-of-date business model, and very few examples of how to overcome this type of situation. Central’s story could be seen as a parable for today’s churches. The past ways of sustaining mission are no longer viable. Is there any hope?
Fortunately for Central, creative new leadership was able to harness the tools necessary to craft a way into the future. Informed by an analysis of the challenges from Central trustee Dr. John Borden, President Molly T. Marshall and Executive Vice President George Townsend developed a bold strategy to move the seminary forward.
In the intervening time Central has moved to a new campus with room for growth, while being good stewards of the historical campus by partnering with other ministries who were able to repurpose that space. Central has completed a $10 million capital campaign that built a chapel, new state of the art library, and provided for two endowed teaching chairs. Central now serves over 350 students in locations throughout the US and also in Myanmar.
The change over these seven years has been amazing. President Marshall has led an unprecedented turnaround and has Central poised for even more significant moves of the Spirit. This is a story of Hope. It is a story of God’s providence. But it is also a story of exemplary leadership and significant business creativity and implementation.
When the business component of the curriculum for the create master of divinity program was being considered, it made perfect sense to harness the expertise already present at Central. Mr. Townsend and Dr. Borden were asked to collaborate on this class to share some of the skills they used to assist in Central’s recovery. Mr. Townsend is fond of saying the class is more like an apprenticeship than a classroom. The skills needed in today’s business climate must be creative and always open to the possibilities that might be beyond the norm. Classes mix latest business theory with the significant experience that Mr. Townsend and Dr. Borden bring to the table.
Today many seminaries are beginning to recognize the need for business classes for church leaders. Often outside business leaders are asked to lead these classes. At Central, however, our students benefit from the lived example of the successful turnaround of the seminary and the expertise of those who brought it about. Now Central’s story is a different parable – a parable of a hopeful future for today’s changing religious climate.