KANSAS CITY, MO (MBTS) – In what President Jason Allen called an answer to prayer for one of the “most significant institutional needs” since the school’s inception in 1957, Midwestern Seminary received a lead gift from an Oklahoma family for a new student center.
Allen said he could not appropriately express gratitude to God for His kind providence in uniting the seminary with Harold and Patricia Mathena, of Oklahoma City, who so generously pledged $7 million to Midwestern Seminary, as a lead gift toward an approximately $14 million student center. He added, “This is one of the largest gifts in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention and in the history of theological education in North America as a whole.
“This gift is an answer to over two years of prayer on my part, and, in a very real way, to Southern Baptists’ prayers since 1957 when, in our seminary’s founding documents, the Board of Trustees expressed their desire to build a facility for student and family life as soon as possible,” Allen said.
“It is clear to me in the way God has worked throughout this process that His special favor is upon Midwestern Seminary,” Allen continued. “And through the singular generosity of the Mathenas, in committing to this $7 million lead gift, we are able to pursue a student center here at this strategic juncture in Midwestern Seminary’s life. This new building is an urgency given our record enrollment growth the past two years.”
Allen said that after nearly a year’s worth of master planning for the campus, it became apparent that in addition to the need for faculty relocation to the heart of campus and more single student housing, that the most pressing need for Midwestern Seminary was a student center. However, without a lead gift to kick-start the effort, it would be impossible. This is where God had already begun to move for a solution.
Through a series of events and common friendships, Allen was introduced to Mr. & Mrs. Mathena.
This past year, preaching opportunities at Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and at other Oklahoma and Missouri venues enabled Allen to get to know the Mathenas more personally.
“This is a remarkable story of God’s providence, wherein He kept allowing our paths to cross,” Allen said.
The elder Mathena—who founded Mathena, Inc., an oilfield mud-gas pressure control solutions company and who has been a bi-vocational pastor/evangelist—noted that it took quite some time for he and Allen to meet in person. All along, however, conversations with his wife, family, pastor, godly advisors, and friends were planting seeds that would eventually confirm his decision to make the gift.
Speaking of the interactions he had with others before ever meeting Allen, Mathena said, “I mentioned these conversations to say that I have observed in Scripture, and in my everyday experiences, that God blesses a man, whether in ministry or in business. God’s good hand rests upon a man. I have observed that struggling churches, ministries, and businesses can be salvaged and turned around by a man whose heart is stayed on God.”
In February, Mathena met and sat down with Allen and his wife, Karen, for the first time during a meal in Oklahoma City.
“I had the opportunity to hear what God was doing and what Dr. Allen believed that God was going to do with this great institution in equipping and preparing young men and women for ministry in the local church,” Mathena said. “God began speaking to my heart about how we could help and be a part of Jason’s vision.”
Mathena continued, saying, “Weeks and months passed and one day in July, Jason and Charles Smith (Midwestern Seminary’s vice president of Institutional Relations) came to our house and shared with us the need for a student center at Midwestern. God impressed upon us that this was something we would enjoy being a part of, and so now we are pleased to pledge a gift of $7 million toward the total cost of building the student center at Midwestern Seminary.”
The proposed student center, approximately 40,000 square feet, and will hold a gymnasium, recreation and fitness areas, cafeteria, bookstore, student commons area as well as space for additional staff or faculty offices.
In discussing a timeframe that a student center could be operational on campus, Allen said, “There is still much, much work to do, including raising the additional funds needed. As we plan to accomplish this project debt-free, we are praying God will raise up men and women across the SBC and beyond to partner with us.”
For more information about Midwestern Seminary or to inquire about contributing to the student center, contact Charles Smith in the Office of Institutional Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.