Baptist History Homepage

A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer
      The Western Baptist Theological Institute, located at Covington, was an "eye-sore" and a "bone of contention" to the Baptists of the whole Mississippi Valley, as long as it had an existence. The propriety of establishing a Baptist Theological school for the common benefit of the Baptists of the West was first discussed at the first meeting, of a sort of anomolous Association, known as the Western Baptist Convention, in Cincinnati, in November, 1833. A committee was appointed to investigate the matter, which reported in favor of such a school, the following November. The Western Baptist Education Society was organized to prosecute the design. The enterprise succeeded. A valuable property was secured, and the school was located on it, in 1840, in Covington, Kentucky. The Instittute was fully organized and put in operation, in 1845. Rev. R. E. Pattison, D.D., of Massachusetts, was elected President. This election occurred while the famous "Alabama resolutions" were under discussion by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, of which Dr. Pattison was a member. The answer of the Board to those resolutions caused the Baptists of Kentucky to suspicion Dr. Pattison, as being in sympathy with the abolition fanaticism that characterized the majority of the Board. He was called upon publicly to define his position on that subject. This he declined to do; whereupon the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, at its meeting, in Georgetown, in October, 1845, passed the following:

      "Resolved, That in the opinion of this Association, the Western Baptist Theological Institute ought not, under present circumstances, to receive the support of the Baptists of Kentucky."

      The charter of the Institute allowed the trustees to be chosen from Ohio and Kentucky. Up to 1847, a majority of the trustees were citizens of Cincinnati. As early as 1846, it began to be suspicioned that Dr. Pattison was seeking, privately, to secure the sale of the property belonging to the Institute, in Covington, and the removal of the Institute to the opposite side of the OhioRiver. Subsequent investigation fully confirmed the suspicion. On application to the Legislature of Kentucky, during its session of 1847-8, the charter of the Institute was so [p. 686] amended as to prevent the execution of this nefarious design. This affair forced the severance of Dr. Pattison's connection with the Institute. The following extracts from the report on education, adopted by the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, at Bowling Green, in October, 1848, shows the condition of the Institute at that time:

      "The Western Baptist Theological Institute, located in Covington, Kentucky, is well situated for a great theological in, stitution for the whole West. It possesses a property sufficient for an ample endowment, amounting to upwards of $200,000, which is still rapidly increasing in value. It is now placed in the hands of men who will conduct it in a manner worthy of its noble object. Dr. S. W. Lynd has been appointed President, and will enter upon his duties the first Monday in January next."

      "Resolved, That the election of S. W. Lynd, D.D., of the Western Baptist Theological Institute, meets our hearty approbation."

      From this time, till 1852, the Institution enjoyed a good degree of prosperity. But the northern and southern parties concerned in it were irreconcilable, and, in 1855, the trustees deemed it wise to sell the property, and divide between the claimants equally the proceeds. The portion falling to the South was appropriated to the sustaining of a professor of theology in Georgetown College, for a time. Thus ended the effort to build up a great central theological Institute for the whole great West.


[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume II, 1885, pp. 685-686. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More on Western Baptist Theo. Institute
Baptist History Homepage