"Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we will not give up." Galatians 6:9
Meet ABSW's New President and Professor, Dr. Paul M. Martin
On March 23, 2009, the Board of Trustees of the American Baptist Seminary of the West elected Dr. Paul M. Martin to the position of President. Dr. Martin, who had served as interim president since June 2008, is the first African American President in the history of the seminary. With a broad and diverse background, Dr Martin brings a wealth of experience and freshness to his new position. He began his Presidency on July 1, 2009. In 1994, Dr. Martin received the honor to be enrolled in Morehouse College's Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Hall of Preachers. He continues to be deeply concerned about maintaining the integrity of Christian Ministry.
Coming to ABSW with many years of pastoral leadership, having recently celebrated fifty years of active ministry, Dr. Martin has embarked on his new responsibilities with vision and passion. He brings an expansive network of contacts, along with his education and ecumenical spirit, to lead the seminary into a positive and expanding future. He explains that the seminary's mission encompasses five disciplines to be multicultural, multiracial, ethnically diverse, ecumenically diverse and evangelical. Having connections with groups in Africa, South Korea and India, plans are underway to add "international" to these disciplines. This summer, representatives from ABSW's leadership participated in the 2009 African-Korean Women's Conference held at the Miracle Centre Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda and Dr. Martin has been invited to the dedication of a new seminary in Uganda in February 2010. A constituency of twelve Korean pastors spent most of the summer at ABSW for pastoral training.
In describing his vision for the seminary, he emphasizes that "we don't want to be just one racial group, but we want to reach out to all confessing believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are following the Spirit's call on their lives."
In terms of enhancing ecumenicity, Dr. Martin is in the process of developing relationships with several local church denominations of African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Church of God in Christ, Christian Methodist Episcopal, to guide them into participation in pastoral training at ABSW.
Dr. Martin and a leadership committee have plans for ABSW to become a "seminary without walls" by providing educational opportunities ecumenically, while maintaining its historical Baptist roots in Berkeley, California. Plans are forming to develop on-line courses for the certificate programs so those who are hungry to follow God's call and need theological training will have the opportunity to do so. The committee is hoping to have programs in four related geographic areas: Washington/Oregon, Colorado/ New Mexico/Wyoming / Southern Utah, and Southern California / Hawaii where those on an educational journey may be trained through distance learning in the certificate program, or experience leadership models for summer extension and/or continuing educational units. Work is in process to acquire grants to set up and establish the necessary tools and equipment to begin on-line course instruction.
Along with the administrative leadership responsibilities of the presidency, Dr. Martin loves to teach and preach. This Fall semester he is teaching a core course, "Church Leadership" with the registered students more than doubling the number of students from his Spring semester class.
Speaking to the oldest Chinese church in San Francisco, First Chinese Baptist Church in July, Dr. Martin will preach in August at the following churches: First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, the MacArthur Community Baptist Church in San Pablo and the GospelCommunity Baptist Church in Oakland. In September, Dr. Martin will preach at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland and the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church in Los Angeles. In October he has been invited to preach at the oldest African American church in Los Angeles, the Second Baptist Church. He plans to meet with alumni and donors on these visits to help instill his excitement and plans for the seminary. He is open to more opportunities to preach around the country this coming academic year.
A brand new endeavor is the ABSW Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program led by Associate Professor of Preaching, Rev. Dr. Sangyil (Sam) Park and Academic Dean, Dr. LeAnn Flesher. For those pastors desiring to strengthen and expand the impact of their pastoral ministry as they serve "in the trenches," this new program is being offered in prophetic preaching, urban ministry and transformational church leadership. This new program will equip pastors who want to reach out to be competent in multi-ethnic and multi-racial pastoral work for the twenty-first century.
As he reaches out to Alumni, supporters and the churches, Dr. Martin asks you to:
1) Pray for us as an institution in these critical times.
2) Send us students and speak a "good word" about ABSW.
3) Without any sense of apology, please send us your personal financial gifts and encourage your local church to add ABSW to its budget.
ABSW may be small, but it is powerful and your support is crucial to continue to cultivate 138 years of its service and help ABSW be "the seminary on the cutting edge of history redeeming our communities."