The Southern Baptist Convention was established in 1845, with churches unified through state conventions and local associations, to which individual congregations petitioned for membership.
Autonomy of the local church is one of the major tenets of Baptist doctrine, and Baptists are fiercely independent. A seminary professor once likened the term “independent Baptist” to “tooth dentist” or “hair barber.” It’s redundant; but I digress. Baptists seldom agree, but we are generally open to lively discussion and reasonable debate. Cleon Keyes was one such Baptist, a preacher who served in ministry for more than half a century. He believed in unity without uniformity, and he was well respected among Kentucky Baptists as a peacemaker.
As a young preacher, Keyes spent but a few months in Rector College, where he took courses in biblical studies and pastoral care. He would spend the next 50 years preaching the Gospel. Though he lacked the formal training of a seminary degree, he advocated before his local Baptist association of churches for financial contributions to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when it was relocated to Louisville, KY. He explained that more trees could be felled by a sharp axe than a dull one, illustrating his point that young men contemplating pastoral ministry ought to sharpen their tools with higher education. As I like to tell my students, “A call to ministry is a call to preparation.” Cleon Keyes was my grandfather’s great grandfather, the last Baptist preacher in my family until I answered the call.
When Mobile College was founded in 1961, President William K. Weaver Jr. made a commitment to establish a Baptist college in lower Alabama. He believed that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 1:7), and he gathered a faculty who would prepare young men and women for lives of service to Jesus Christ. The University of Mobile retains our Baptist roots, with every faculty member in the School of Christian Ministries serving actively in a Southern Baptist church, holding a seminary degree, and maintaining a firm commitment to the authority of Scripture and the integration of Christian faith with rigorous learning.
Southern Baptists, meeting in 1925 for their annual session, discussed the best means of underwriting missions, education, and other ministry causes as autonomous local churches and as a convention. They agreed to contribute funds to their common interests through their state conventions. Fifty percent of the receipts would be retained for ministry within the state, and the other half would go to the common fund for Southern Baptist ministry endeavors. This new endeavor was called the Cooperative Program.
Nearly 90 years later, the Cooperative Program (CP) continues to serve as the common funding mechanism for Southern Baptists. Through the years, the recipients of the CP have included the Home Mission Board (now known as the North American Mission Board), the Foreign Mission Board (now known as the International Mission Board), the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (which has been joined by five other Southern Baptist seminaries), and a variety of agencies and auxiliary groups. The University of Mobile has been blessed to be a recipient of CP funds since its inception.
When Southern Baptists in Alabama give to the CP, they help to support the education of University of Mobile students, and thus the spread of the Gospel everywhere they go. They help support the general budget of UMobile, allowing us to equip students to reach the world for Christ. More than 70 students annually receive ministry scholarships because of the generosity of Alabama Baptists.
Alabama Baptists Make A Difference
Through contributions to Alabama Baptist churches and, thus, the Cooperative Program, your support provides funding for scholarships for students preparing for vocational church ministry, community and urban ministry, international missions, and marketplace ministry. As you continue your faithful support, you provide the resources we need to develop partnerships for local ministry teams, regional internships, and international service projects.
We at the School of Christian Ministries and the University of Mobile want to thank you for your support. We appreciate your prayer support as we engage in spiritual discipleship. We thank you for your trust, allowing us to help equip your students to serve God and serve others through their vocations. We are also grateful for your financial support for our programs and ministries.
Your generosity helps us to be change agents, changing lives to change the world. May God bless you as you give!
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us… that Your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:1-3, ESV)
Dr. Doug Wilson is dean of the University of Mobile School of Christian Ministries and professor of Christian ministries