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seminary president
Molly T. Marshall

Local seminary president known for making Bible gender neutral, resigns over ‘ethical lapse’

A local seminary president has resigned because of an unspecified “ethical Lapse.” Molly T. Marshall stepped down from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee on March 1. The resignation was announced publicly on March 30.

“I humbly apologize to the board and the rest of the Central constituency and seek forgiveness,” she said. “My deepest prayer is for the flourishing of the school and her new president.”

Marshall, a liberal theologian said she voluntarily resigned to protect the seminary. She resigned from all her duties as president and professor of theology and spiritual formation. She had been controversial for attempting to rewrite the Bible in gender neutral terms stating in a 2018 Baptist Women in Ministry interview, “We must grow beyond the binary male/female dichotomy with the accompanying stereotypical characterizations. Inclusive language can order human conventions toward a more just society.”

“As this is a personnel matter, due to confidentiality the board cannot discuss specifics around Dr. Marshall’s resignation,” according to a statement from the seminary.

The Rev. Robert E. Johnson will now serve as interim president of the seminary. “As we confront the many challenges presented by this circumstance, we do acknowledge Molly’s leadership of the last sixteen years,” he said.

Marshall, before the sudden announcement, had planned to retire this summer. In February, the board of trustees elected Pamela R. Durso as the 11th president of the seminary, which has ties to American Baptist Churches USA, which claims more than 5,000 congregations. Durso begins her tenure as president on June 1.

A Kansas publication wrote last year about how Marshall “resurrected” Central Baptist Theological Seminary, which had 78 students in 2004 when she became president. The school grew to 530 students in 2019.

Over the course of her career, Marshall has served as a theologian for more than 30 years and has been a youth minister, campus minister and pastor at churches in Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas.

It’s not the first time Marshall has been forced to resign from a seminary. In 1994, Marshall resigned under pressure from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the SBC’s flagship school, from which she earned her doctoral degree. Details of that resignation were not released. She went on to a position as visiting theology professor at the more moderate Central Baptist Theological Seminary in 1995. She served as the school’s acting dean before becoming its president in 2004.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice