Theological Training and “The Seminary Fund”

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BWA General Council Resolution 1977.7

Carl W. Tiller had been asked to prepare a report for the Council on efforts made in past years by Baptists of the world to provide theological training and to establish a theological seminary in the heart of Europe. His written report contained a history of a seminary fund for training in the Slavic languages, begun in 1908 by Baptists. A special offering was received during the 1911 World Congress to augment the fund and “to train Slavic candidates for the gospel ministry.” While exact financial records are not extant from that period, it appears that the contributions received for the fund did not exceed $50,000, but earnings from investments had been added to the contributions.

More than $68,000 has been expended in two attempts to start a seminary in Russia. A total of $44,472.78 was spent in 1922-23 for establishment of a seminary at Leningrad. The school operated for several years and educated about 400 men. An additional $24,500 was remitted to Moscow for a theological school opened there, with a 40-year lease, in late 1928. The school was closed and the lease cancelled a short time later, but perhaps as many as 250 men received training there.

Action in 1950 by the Executive Committee established $50,000 as the “principal” of the Fund, and designated the remainder of money then in the fund as “earnings.”

Beginning in 1959, the Executive Committee entered into a venture of lending a portion of the Fund to the Alliance general fund, for its use in acquiring real estate adjacent to the Alliance’s property in Washington, D.C. By official action of the Alliance, this loan was subsequently mode non-interest- bearing; no provision has been made for repayment.

“There has been much misunderstanding and confusion over the ‘Seminary Fund,'” Tiller said. He continued, “It is desirable to use such moneys as remain in the fund for the purpose for which the fund was started—theological training among the Slavic-speaking peoples—and to fix responsibility therefor in an appropriate committee.”

MOTION by Gerhard Claas was seconded, and passed 30GC77 that the following resolution be adopted:

Having reviewed once again the history and situation of the Seminary Fund and the matter of theological training for eastern Europe, the General Council

1. Cancels any obligation of the Alliance towards the Fund with regard to the portion of the fund used by the Alliance in the purchase of real estate, reported as $87,053.41, with that amount recognized as and considered to be a contribution from Slavic-speaking people who are in currency-controlled countries;

2. Directs that the remainder of the Fund balance, reported as $110,251.70 at the start of the current year, be transferred into the Baptist World Alliance Relief Fund, designated therein for Inter-church Aid for theological education of ministerial students, speaking one or more of the Slavic languages;

3. Directs that $50.000 of the sum so transferred be reserved for an institution of theological training in the U.S.S.R., to be paid to the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists promptly upon request after the necessary permissions are obtained from the authorities for the opening of such an institution;

4. Authorizes the Division of Relief and Development to allocate the remainder of the sum so transferred for theological training of ministerial students of Eastern European churches, including (but not limited to) supplementation of the payment for use in the U.S.S.R. if needed;

5. Authorizes the Division of Relief and Development to seek additional donations for the account for theological training of ministerial students of Eastern Europe, if the aforementioned moneys are, in the Division’s opinion, insufficient, and

6. Closes out the Seminary Fund as a separate entity.


Original Source Bibliography: Denny, Robert S., editor. Baptist World Alliance 1977 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory. Washington, DC: Baptist World Alliance, 1977.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Robert S. Denny, ed., Baptist World Alliance 1977 Yearbook: Minutes of the General Council Meeting and Directory (Washington, DC: Baptist World Alliance, 1977), pp. 48- 49.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA General Council Resolution 1977.7 Theological Training and “The Seminary Fund”;

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA General Council Resolution 1977.7).
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Since its formation in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the global Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.