Executive Editor’s Note: The “Moving the Conversation Forward” article by Associate Editor Allan Eakin in the Dec. 20 issue introduced a series of articles we would feature at the beginning of the new year. The first of these articles — “How Do We Associate?” — appeared in the Jan. 10 issue.
In the Jan. 17 issue, we shared the stories of the two oldest ministries of the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas — State Missions and the Baptist Trumpet.
In the Jan. 24 issue, we shared the stories of the two largest ministries — BMA Global (Missions) and Lifeword — that are made possible because of the national association of churches, the Baptist Missionary Association of America (BMAA).
In the Jan. 31 issue, we shared the stories of the two departments that help maintain the identity of our association — BMA Theological Seminary and Baptist Publishing House.
In the Feb. 7 issue, we are shared about two national ministries that help churches extend the reach of what they could do on their own — Moral Action Agency and BMA Financial.
In this issue, we are wrapping up this series by sharing about the ministries that seek to reach the next generation with the gospel — the Arkansas Youth Department, Central Baptist College and Daniel Springs Camp. (All articles in this series are being made available and accessible to everyone at BaptistTrumpet.com. Look for the “Why An Association of Churches?” Series graphic.)
In November of 1951, what is now the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas, met in Warren to discuss starting a college for the youth of the association. They authorized the Christian Education Committee of the association to enter negotiations to buy 10 acres (formerly occupied by Central College for Women from 1892–1947) located in the heart of Conway, now one of the fastest growing cities in Arkansas. The price was a bargain at $85,000, but it proved to be a heavy burden for a small association of Missionary Baptists.
Dr. D.N. Jackson was elected as the “promotional man” for the college. He rallied the churches and was successful in raising the down payment. The sale of bonds helped fund the remaining balance and, by the summer of 1952, the association took possession of the abandoned campus. Associational minutes reflect that the first name chosen for the college was Central College for Christian Workers, but before opening in the fall of 1952, the name was changed to Conway Baptist College. Dr. Jackson was elected as president on Aug. 25, 1952, and announced in the Baptist Trumpet that the college would open for business on Sept. 15, 1952. The headline of the Oct. 10, 1952 Baptist Trumpet read, “The Impossible Accomplished.” CBC (the name changed in 1961 to Central Baptist College) would see many such “impossibles” over the years.
On Dec. 26, 2023, I completed my twentieth year as the president of CBC. What D.N. Jackson believed, and I still hold to this day, is recorded in Luke 18:27: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” In my inauguration address, I chose a portion of Eph. 3:20, “Now unto Him who is able…” as the theme for my presidency. Much of the growth of CBC, both in terms of enrollment, faculty, staff and physical buildings, I have only read about. I must say that the Baptist Trumpet archives are a treasure trove; I have spent hours reading reports from the previous eight CBC presidents. Between the archives and the recorded minutes of the CBC Board of Trustees, I have been able to relive both the accomplishments and the struggles of the early years of the institution.
Today, I am blessed with a 20-member Board of Trustees. These faithful men and women, all members of BMA churches, provide direction and support to me and my Executive Leadership Team (ELT). The Board, elected by the BMA of Arkansas in their annual meeting each November, meets in regular sessions the first weeks of March and June and the third week in October. If needed, the Board convenes meetings between the regular sessions via Zoom, or in some cases, I poll the Board via e-mail.
Most private institutions, and CBC is no exception, are dependent on two primary sources of income: tuition revenue and charitable contributions. We reward students for academic achievement, musical talent and athletic ability with scholarships. We also forego income from BMA students who meet the qualifications. We do so to the extent that we could not operate without those individuals, churches, businesses, corporations and foundations who give — some sacrificially — to the ministry of Central Baptist College.
There are many ways to give, and they are all found on our website at cbc.edu/give. I hope you will consider joining us with your financial support. Our greatest need is regular monthly support. Last year, we launched Legacy Leaders, a sustainable giving program. Will you pray about becoming a Legacy Leader? You can do so for as little as $10 per month. Join at cbc.edu/legacyleaders.
I have been associated with CBC for nearly four decades, both as a non-traditional student and later as an employee. I have personally witnessed God’s hand moving in our people to see the college through some perilous times. Yet, our greatest moments have not been the completion of strategic plans or campus facilities master plans, the buildings constructed, the millions of dollars raised, the increase in academic offerings or even the rise of student enrollment. Our greatest accomplishment is not found in students graduated and degrees awarded. Our most significant victory is in remaining true to our mission! Though it’s been rewritten, reworked and reworded, Central Baptist College continues to stand for the absolute truth of the verbal, plenary, inspired Word of God. The central message of our Mission Statement is the “transformation of lives through the integration of Christian faith and academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment.”
We are facing big challenges in 2024. Both of our accreditation visits are scheduled for this fall — the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), our regional accrediting body, and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), which governs our teacher education program. I have capable leaders in both areas. As President, I want to focus on the revision of our campus facilities master plan and implementation of our next capital campaign. I know it is possible, not in my own strength, but because “He is able…”
Return to Why An Association of Churches? page.