Seminary Day Gives MC Students Glimpse of Ministerial Futures
Jonathan Hancock knew he wanted to pursue ministerial service once he graduated from Mississippi College, but the Christian studies and philosophy major wasn’t sure which gospel-centered institution was best for him.
Each year, he attended Seminary Day, an annual showcase for representatives of various theological seminaries presenting information about their respective schools to undergraduate students at MC. Before attending the event, Hancock had not heard of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, but determined it would be the best place for him to pursue his commitment to Christ when he graduated from MC in 2018.
Three years later, after earning his master’s from MBTS, Hancock was back in the cafeteria on the MC campus to represent the seminary during this year’s Seminary Day Sept. 27. And he had a fresh recruit by his side: his younger brother, Noah, a fifth-year senior at MC, who plans to move to Kansas City upon graduation.
“It’s been a real treat just to come back to MC and visit with my brother and represent the school I work for now,” Hancock said. “I’ve been blessed to have such a good relationship with my brother and to kind of blaze a trail for him coming to MC and then to Midwestern.”
Representatives from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Wesley Biblical Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Gateway Seminary, Beeson Divinity School, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Mississippi Army National Guard lined the entrance to the cafeteria in the B. C. Rogers Student Center, offering information about their respective graduate programs to interested MC students.
That evening, Dr. Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, delivered an inspirational message to attendees of the Church Related Vocation Banquet in Anderson Hall East. Given on behalf of the board, the CRV Banquet included music by Dr. Will Bishop and MC Worship Collective.
Hancock wasn’t the only MC alum to be on the recruiting side of the table during Seminary Day. David Morris, a full-time chaplain for the Mississippi Army National Guard, served as class president for MC’s Class of 1995. After graduation, the communication major attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, joined the National Guard and rose through the ranks to chaplain.
Thanks in large part to Morris’ connection with MC, the National Guard was participating in Seminary Day for the very first time.
“My ultimate goal in participating in Seminary Day is to get people interested in joining the Mississippi Army National Guard as a chaplain,” Morris said. “The Guard can be used as another ministry goal for students, just as they seek to do ministry in the civilian sector. They can be a pastor or a student pastor wherever they land, and then they can also, on weekends and two weeks in the summer, participate in ministry with our soldiers in the Mississippi Army National Guard.
“When I was here at MC, we didn’t have anybody come and introduce this. I would have loved to have had this as another ministry objective as I became a seminary student.”
That is the objective of Seminary Day – to help MC students interested in furthering their Christian studies choose an appropriate path for their ministerial interests.
Even students like James Thornton, a fifth-year senior Christian studies major who already has his mind set on attending the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, can gain something from Seminary Day. In Thornton’s case, it was a NOBTS T-shirt – and the assurance his area of interest is covered by the curriculum at the Louisiana school.
“My main interest is talking to seminaries about what their opportunities are,” Thornton said. “I’m focused on New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary because they have my main interest, which is children and youth education.
“It is really nice to get to see them represented here. It’s really nice to have one-on-one conversations.”
McKenzie Sizemore, the NOBTS representative with whom Thornton spoke, said her institution has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Mississippi College.
“We love MC,” Sizemore said. “It’s one of our extension centers, so one of the good things about the connection between NOBTS and MC is, students can actually take classes through NOBTS right here on MC’s campus. So, we really appreciate the relationship we have with them.
“I’ve been focusing on MC because we really want to reach those who are interested and bring them to a city that’s very different, but not too far from home. New Orleans is a city that really has the most need for the Gospel. You’re really able to prepare so well for what you want to do long-term.”
She said having the opportunity to speak directly to interested students in the presence of other seminary representatives is an invaluable experience.
“With so many other seminaries represented here, it does give us the opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of New Orleans,” she said. “We’re able to expound on the strengths of the city and the strengths of the seminary.”
Morris said the value of Seminary Day to students and representatives alike can’t be overstated.
“I think it’s absolutely beneficial that we participate,” Morris said. “There might be a junior or a senior who are unsure of what they want to do. This gives them a career objective. There are opportunities for growth, and this gives them an idea, a few years down the road, they can be a seminary student.”