Simmons, BSK Announce Collaboration in West Louisville

By Bob Allen, Baptist News Global, February 17, 2016

A historically black college and a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-aligned seminary have announced a collaboration to boost higher education opportunities for African Americans in Louisville, Ky.

Simmons College of Kentucky and the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky will move together toward offering graduate Baptist theological education in the economically disadvantaged west end of Louisville, leaders of the two institutions announced in a press conference Feb. 16.

Simmons College President Kevin Cosby (left) and Greg Earwood of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky announce a new partnership Feb. 16. (Photo via Facebook)

Simmons President Kevin Cosby said that prior to the school’s accreditation in 2014, students in west Louisville had to leave their community in order to attend college. Cosby, who also is pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in west Louisville, said that is still the case for students who want a graduate degree.

“That’s not good for west Louisville,” said Cosby, a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Cosby is credited with rescuing the liberal arts college established in 1879 from bankruptcy and making it the centerpiece of a plan for neighborhood renewal.

Greg Earwood, president of the predominantly white Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, said the two groups will engage in dialogue on racial issues and in the process shape graduate-level theological education opportunities in the west end of Louisville.

The talks will explore how the seminary — located 70 miles away on the campus of Georgetown College — can best offer graduate theological education in Louisville’s west end. Earwood said possibilities include adding office space on or near the Simmons campus, recruiting Simmons College graduates as theology students, joint appointment of a visiting professor, offering a seminary course at Simmons and jointly sponsoring a lectureship featuring black scholars.

“In light of Ferguson, Charleston and Baltimore, we stand together, and we will work together so that the Kingdom of God might exist more fully as the Lord’s Prayer says, 'on earth as it is in heaven,’” said Earwood, who has been president of the seminary since the year before the first classes opened in 2002.

Last fall Simmons College joined groups including the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship in a partnership to engage inner-city and suburban churches in working together to solve social problems that disproportionally affect African Americans.

For Black History Month, the Empower West Louisville coalition is asking all citizens of Louisville to read Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism in advance of a community dialogue Feb. 29 at Highland Baptist Church.

Dialogue sponsors include Broadway Baptist Church, Christ’s Church for Our Community, Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Highland Presbyterian Church, Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church, Ridgewood Baptist Church, Simmons College of Kentucky, St. Matthews Episcopal Church, St. Stephen Church and Westwood Presbyterian Church.

The Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, accredited last year by the Association of Theological Schools, is one of 15 theological education partners of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The Fellowship, based in Decatur, Ga., is active in the New Baptist Covenant, a movement aimed at building relationships between black and white Baptists in the United States initiated by former President Jimmy Carter.

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