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Texas Seminary Will Move and Merge in the Coming Year

B.H. Carroll, a seminary offering online classes, will move its headquarters and merge with East Texas Baptist University.

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B.H. Carroll Theological Seminary, currently located in Irving, Texas, faces big changes in the coming year.

The seminary plans to merge with East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) in Marshall in late 2024, although the B.H. Carroll offices will not be moving onto the ETBU campus. In January, however, it will move its offices from Irving back to its original location in nearby Arlington in a building owned by First Baptist Church.

B.H. Carroll was started in 2004 as a way to make theological education more accessible, offering a variety of online theological degree programs and graduate certificates. It touts affordability—about one-third the cost of most institutions—and flexibility. It was named in honor of the first president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The seminary was started by Baptists, but B.H. Carroll claims to be “an independent seminary, unaffiliated or attached to any one denomination or church organization.”

“This move will allow us to be more efficient with our financial resources and more deeply integrate our services with a partnering church,” B.H. Carroll President Gene Wilkes said of the anticipated move back to Arlington from Irving where it has been since 2015. He added that the school was “severely challenged during the COVID pandemic.”

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Speaking about the merger, ETBU’s board chair James Webb said, “East Texas Baptist University and B. H. Carroll Theological Institute have the same mission to equip Christian servant leaders to follow their calling to God and humanity; the opportunity for greater Kingdom impact can be achieved through a strategic educational and ministry partnership to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Leaving a legacy

Integral to the formation of B.H. Carroll was Russell Dilday, who died on June 21 at age 92. For 15 years, Dilday served as the first chair of the board of governors for the seminary and then as its chancellor.

“Russell was a key figure in the beginning of Carroll. He made the first public announcement about the formation of the school to the media gathered in Dallas,” Bruce Corley said of Dilday in a press statement.

Wilkes spoke highly of Dilday. “Dr. Dilday…encouraged me often and was available to me whenever I needed his opinion or counsel. He connected us to donors and supporters who supported the seminary simply because of his recommendation. He spoke well and often of the seminary’s founders and their vision for theological education.”

Prior to founding B.H. Carroll Theological Seminary—alongside co-founders Bruce Corley, Jim Spivey, Budd Smith, and Stan Moore—Dilday served as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He was removed from that position in 1994 after more conservative members gained a majority on the seminary’s board.

In 2004, Dilday released his book, “Higher Ground: A Call for Christian Civility” in which he described the conservative resurgence as “a self-destructive, contentious, one-sided feud that at times took on combative characteristics.”

“I thank God for Russell Dilday. Although we were on different sides of the Southern Baptist Convention divide, I never lost my love and respect for him. Southwestern Seminary saw some of its greatest days during his presidency. He loved the Lord and left a legacy,” said Southwestern Seminary Chancellor O.S. Hawkins.

Dilday was a graduate of Baylor University. He went on to earn both a masters and doctorate from Southwestern Seminary. In addition to his years serving in higher education, Dilday pastored churches and served on the Home Mission Board and as second vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

He took the helm as president of Southwestern Seminary in 1978 after the retirement of Robert Naylor. To prepare for his duties, he enrolled in a management course offered by Emory University and also met one-on-one with the seminary faculty.

During Dilday’s tenure as president, Southwestern grew to its largest enrollment of over 5,000 students and was ranked first in a poll about the effectiveness of American seminaries conducted by Christianity Today.

After his dismissal from Southwestern seminary, Dilday taught homiletics at Baylor’s Truett Seminary and also served as the interim president of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, from 2002 to 2003.

Main photo: Graduation 2019 at B.H. Carroll Theological Seminary / Photo via social media

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.