Origin. - This institution originated with the General Convention of Western Baptists, held in Cincinnati in November, 1833, and subsequent years. They deeply felt, that the state of our denomination in the West, especially in our large towns and important posts - the ravages of error among our churches - the peculiarity of Western institutions and customs - as well as the necessity of securing for our own wants, the services of our best young men when educated - all, most clearly indicated the absolute necessity of having an institution of our own, where our young ministers could enjoy all the facilities for a thorough education, preparatory to the work of preaching the gospel. Frequent and disastrous failures had proved that it was impossible for the States, individually, to supply either the students or the funds, to support, single handed, a thorough theological institution in each State. It was therefore understood, that while each State would as soon as practicable, establish a literary Institution for the general education of all her sons, we would combine our efforts throughout the whole western valley, and found, in some central place, a Theological Institution of the highest character, for the training of all those whom God hath called, and the churches approved, for the work of the ministry. Thus originated the Western Baptist Theological Institute.
It is located upon elevated ground, in the back part of the city of Covington, Ky., immediately opposite to Cincinnati; which two cities are so laid out as to correspond to each other, and, at the distance of the Institute from the river, they appear to form but one city.
The advantages of Location here enjoyed, are found combined to the same degree in no other spot in the Western Valley.
1. Centrality - four-fifths of the whole population, and more than three-fourths of the Baptist denomination in the great Western Valley, lying within 250 miles of this centre.
2. Accessibleness [sic] - a railroad, two canals, two rivers, six turnpikes, and many other large roads, all converging to this point.
3. Healthfulness - unsurpassed, and unsurpassable.
4. Economy - living is cheap.
5. Means of information - Here are our largest bookstores and publishing houses.
6. General attractiveness - Our large meetings of general interest are usually held here.
7. Means of improvement - Opportunities are enjoyed every Sabbath of listening to the best gifts, and in the greatest variety.
History. - The Convention above mentioned appointed a Committee, (since incorporated by the legislature of Kentucky,) who proceeded, according to instructions, to select and purchase the site above named, with about 370 acres of land, then adjacent to, but since included within the corporate limits of the city. They have erected a College edifice, 120 feet long by 46 feet wide, four stories high - built of brick, finished in the most substantial, workmanlike manner, and capable of accommodating 100 students. A president's house also, which, with a little addition, might accommodate two professors with their families. The cost of these buildings, and other improvements, such as opening and grading streets, &c., is not far from $30,000, which, added to the original purchase money of $33,250, makes the aggregate expenditure not far from $60,000. All of which has not cost the denomination a single dollar, but has been effected by the sale of their property as city lots at advanced prices. The trustees still hold about 700 city lots, increasing in value, upon which they rely for the payment of their debts, amounting to about $10,000, and the enlargement of their operations, when necessary, by the erection of other building, &c. This property, if now forced into market, before the institution is opened, must be sold at a ruinous sacrifice.
Thus has the good providence of God given to us an estate worth at he lowest estimate from $60,000 to 100,000; and our determination is, to make the most judicious use of it, guarding specially, against those failures which have attended similar enterprises. This can only be done, by establishing a permanent fund, the interest of which alone, is to used to support the teachers - since, from the peculiar circumstances of our students, no reliance can be placed upon income from tuition fees. We are not without hope, that God can raise us up some nursing fathers, who will consider it a privilege to give a name to this Institution, or at least to one of the professorships, and thus perpetuate the memory of their munificence. The same result, however, can be reached, by dividing the professorship of $20,000 into scholarships of $500 each, allowing to the founders of such scholarships, when secured to the trustees, the privilege of naming the scholarship, and keeping a student always at the Institute, whose tuition will be reckoned as the interest of that sum.
The amount pledged by any individual, may be paid in installments of from two to four years, according to the convenience of the donor; which, if secured t the Institute, and bearing interest from date, will entitle the donor to the same privileges as if already paid.
The forgoing is a CIRCULAR lately issued by the Agent on behalf of the Trustees of this projected Institution. It contains some important facts, in addition to what we have heretofore published in the Memorial. The origin and progress of the enterprise have been signally providential. The colleges and minor seminaries, projected and sustained by the Baptist denomination in the different states of the great Western Valley, must necessarily, from existing circumstances, give biblical instruction to a considerable number of brethren, approved for the ministry, who cannot go through both a collegiate and a regular theological course - but in five years, from present prospects, there will be graduates enough, devoted to the ministry, to form a large class of students for a full theological course. In Granville College, Ohio, there are now over one hundred students, of which eighteen or twenty have been approved by the churches for the ministry; - in Georgetown, Ky., one hundred and thirteen under graduates, and twenty-three licentiates; - Union University, Tenn., forty students and six licentiates; - Franklin Institute, Ia., forty students, and ten or twelve licentiates; - Shurtleff College, Alton, Ill., about fifty students and twelve destined for the ministry. There are now not less than one hundred young men in the states lying on the waters of the Mississippi, who have been approved by the churches for the ministry, and are now struggling to obtain the elements of education at some private school or local academy, who ought to be brought out, aided as beneficiaries and placed in a Baptist institution. These facts show that our brethren in the Western Valley have not been premature in their measures, nor unreasonable in their solicitations for aid.
In the ten states and two territories on the Mississippi, Baptists now number one fourth of the communicants in evangelical churches. They now have more than 4,000 organized churches, and 225,000 communicants, with only 2,535 preachers, (ordained and licensed.) More than 1,000 churches are now wanting pastors, many of which would support them, in whole or in part, could they obtain men well qualified for the station.
J. M. P.[Pendleton]
Nashville, Ten., November 5.
[Taken from The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Chronicle, NY, Vol. 3, December 1844, pp. 374-5.]
The following is taken from the Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1845 -
"Resolved, That the situation in which Covington Institution is, on account of the suspicion respecting its president upon the subject of slavery, this Association deems it an unsafe place to educate its rising ministry."
The following is from the Covington Journal newspaper, in the classified section.
Western Baptist Theological Institute
The Western Baptist Theological Institute will commence its session on the 3d Thursday of September, and continues 39 weeks, or till the 3d Wednesday in June.
There will be a regular course of studies of TWO YEARS for graduates, and for those who attainments are equivalent; but provisions will be made for a course of English Theology, for such students as cannot acquire the requisite knowledge of the original languages of the Bible for the higher course.
The following resolutions adopted by the Board of Trustees, exhibit's the qualifications for admission:
"No person, without the special vote of Trustees, shall be received as a student of Theology, who has not been licensed by the church of which he is a member, to preach the gospel, or who has not received from said church a certificate of their approbation of his studying with a view to a future application for a license.
"It is a fundamental principle, never to be lost sight of, either by the Trustees or the Faculty of this Institution, that no man is deemed a suitable candidate for the Christian Ministry, who has not personal piety, and, who has not been called of God to preach."
The Preparatory Department of the Institute, which is designed to fit young men for College, without regard to the profession which they may have in view, and also to prepare the Theological Department such candidates for the ministry, as from age of other causes cannot take a collegiate course will commence its session on the last Monday in August.
The tuition of candidates for the ministry will be gratuitous in both departments. For others, there will be charge of $40 per year.
Rooms comfortably furnished will be provided free of charge, to all candidates for the ministry.
Board in common will be furnished at $1.25 per week.
Washing, fuel, and lights, with a small charge for sweeping halls, making public fires, &c., will be at the expense of the pupil.
The Faculty of the Institute consist[s] of Rev. S. W. Lynd, D.D., President, and Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology - Rev. D. R. Campbell, Professor of Biblical Literature and Interpretation - Rev. Asa Drury, Professor of Ecclestical History, and Principal of the Preparatory Department - Rev. Harvey Ball, Assistant Professor, who will reside in the College edifice, and have the general oversight of students in the Prepretory Department.
The location of the Institute in Covington, Ky., within a mile of the Ohio river, on elevated ground, and remarkable for salubrity of atmosphere, renders it one of the most eligible, in the Western valley, for educational purposes.
P. S. BUSH, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
C. W. Clayton, Secretary.
[Taken from The Covington Journal, [weekly newspaper], August 24, 1849, p. 3.
A Resolution by the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1853
In a report made concerning the Western Baptist Theological Institute, it was stated by resolution that the trustees of said institute had agreed to divide the property equally between the trustees acting for the Western States and those acting for the Southern States with the opening "of two Theological Seminaries, one for the North and one for the South, instead of one central one as heretofore contemplated; and, whereas, the present acting board have definitely dissolved, and appointed committees to obtain the sanction of the Kentucky Legislature at its next meeting to such division, and also to locate the Institute for the South at Georgetown, instead of Covington." The General Association, then by resolution heartily approved the idea of locating the Institute for the South at Georgetown, and that they would "lend their influence to consummate this aim of the Trustees." It was then resolved "That this Association shall always regard the Institute as the enterprise of the Southwest, and not of Kentucky alone; and we shall insist on its being always conducted as an Institute of all the States properly interested in its benefits." The Institute failed to thrive at Georgetown College as was expected.
[From A History of Kentucky Baptists, by Frank M. Masters, 1953, p. 300. Scanned and formatted by jim Duvall.]
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