On August 14, 2013, Dr. Sam Harbin sent this letter to friends of CBS. For questions, please feel free to contact the seminary: 215.368.7538, ext. 101.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The wonderful privilege of serving as president of Calvary Baptist Seminary for the past seven years has brought along with it many joys and some sorrows - days that cause exuberant rejoicing and days that cause the tears to start. Today is a day unlike any of the other days - a day that causes both rejoicing and tears.
Next week, we’ll begin our thirty-eighth year of training leaders for local churches around the world. The dreams and hopes for gospel ministry residing in the hearts of our students are burning brighter than ever - they inspire me every day. The need for visionary leaders to plant gospel-preaching churches here in the Northeast and around the world has never been more pressing - that need burdens me every day.
And yet, it is my sad responsibility to announce today that this thirty-eighth year of gospel training ministry will be the very last for Calvary Baptist Seminary. Meeting in special session last week, our Board of Trustees authorized the administrative team to begin preparing for the final year of operations.
The primary factor influencing this historic decision is declining enrollment which produces a disproportionate reliance on contributed revenue for our general operations budget. We can point to any number of factors for the decline: rising student college debt, the multiplication of other good seminaries, the fact that we do not offer a fully online degree, etc. All our best efforts to reverse the decline have met with disappointing results.
The reason for the timing of the decision is fairly simple. By deciding to enter a “teach out” process now, we are still able to cease operations in a manner that upholds the testimony of Jesus Christ, does right by our students, and fulfills our financial and regulatory obligations honorably. If we continue even one more year along the same trajectory we’ve been experiencing for the last several years, our ability to end well is much less likely.
The administrative team will be working diligently with our current students to ensure that as many of them as possible can earn their degree and graduate next May. For those too early in their programs to make that possible, we’ll work hard to facilitate their transition to other reputable institutions so that they do not experience unnecessary interruption in their ministry preparation.
We appreciate your prayers for our entire seminary family during this transition - for students who need to complete their education, for administration, staff, and faculty who need to find employment. To our faithful donors, we’ll be relying on your support during this final year as much as we ever have.
Though my heart is heavy as I write these words, nearly four decades of Calvary Baptist Seminary have given us so much to celebrate! Our founder, E. Robert Jordan, dreamed of starting one hundred new churches on the eastern seaboard of the United States. To God’s glory, the seminary has graduated five hundred seventeen men and women who serve the Lord on six continents and have collectively started far more than one hundred churches both here at home and in fourteen countries internationally. By God’s grace, we’ll see through our happy tears to find appropriate ways to rejoice together in all that God has done.
In Our Savior's Love,
Samuel L. Harbin