Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Holds Fall Convocation in a New Normal

Fall Convocation at Midwestern Seminary proceeded on Aug. 26 as it has since 1957—only with a twist.

In addition to the usual pomp and pageantry of the service, due to safety concerns over Covid-19, the great hymns normally belted out by attendees were somewhat muffled by protective masks, and faculty, students, and guests usually seated shoulder-to-shoulder now were socially distanced in the chapel and in overflow classrooms across campus. Many even took in the service via livestream.

The twists and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, however, did not dampen the seminary community’s joy, as attendees reveled in worshipping Jesus together in chapel for the first time since March.

Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen expressed the mood best, saying, “This feels and, indeed, is different from any other fall semester we’ve experienced in our history, but it is still good, sweet, and right that we are here at this time doing what we’re doing.”

Allen added that if one compared this Convocation service and start to the semester to previous years, he or she may find it to be lacking in some ways. However, when comparing the way the semester has started in light of what Covid has wrought over the past five months—“There is a joy, eagerness, and thankfulness to God that, in spite of all of that’s taken place, we can be here together learning, studying, and teaching for Christ’s church in this place today.”

Shifting his focus to the Convocation message, Allen explained that for Fall semester, chapel attendees will be taught by faculty and local pastors through a sermon series entitled, “The Gospel According to James.”

Allen initiated the series with a message from James 1:1-11 entitled, “You Can Trust Him.” In doing so, he noted that with all the disruptions, uncertainty, and complications caused by the pandemic over the past several months, it is important to continue to trust the Lord.

Of the recent and continuing uncertain times, Allen shared, “We need a word from the Lord. We need a word from Scripture. We need to be taught. We need to be informed how to live the Christian life and, in particular, how to engage in our own seasons of trial, of contest, perhaps of discouragement, perhaps even of despair.”

He added that in our cultural context, it’s difficult to know what or whom to trust. Unreservedly, Allen stated this isn’t the case with God, saying, “Brothers and sisters, I tell you this morning from the promise of these verses, you can trust Him.”

Breaking down the passage into three main points, Allen explained that we can trust God through our trials; we can trust God in our uncertainty; and we can trust God in our material circumstances.

In verses 1-4, James addressed a Jewish audience that was enduring persecution, and they were also dislocated and separated. James addressed their situation and how to live within it. Allen said the same is true of many believers today.

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Source: Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary