A United Church of Christ seminary in Minnesota has named Baptist theologian and educator Molly Marshall as its interim president beginning March 1.
That’s one year to the day from when Marshall stepped down as president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, where she led an academic and financial revival during her 16-year tenure.
In a news release, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, based in St. Paul, Minn., said its search committee and board of trustees were impressed by Marshall’s organizational and fundraising skills and also by her experience in theological education. The trustees voted unanimously for her selection.
“We are witnessing more and more students called to United — a progressive seminary with a unique curriculum that incorporates the arts, social transformation and interfaith pursuits,” search committee chair Jack Rossman said in the release. “We look forward with faith-filled hope to Dr. Marshall’s strategic leadership as we continue to equip those called to ministry and service in all areas of church and society.”
Making the move to UCC spaces presents no theological quandaries, Marshall said in an interview with Baptist News Global.
“I find UCC values to be very much in line with my own progressive identity as a Baptist, and that they want to hire a Baptist means they are really ecumenical,” she said. “They have a high view of Scripture, and they want to set more places at the table. They practice Eucharist hospitality, and they are concerned that the Spirit of God is nudging them toward more permeable boundaries as they think of other ways of being people of faith.”
Marshall, for many years a BNG opinion contributor, added that she is eager to join an institution that already has made difficult and creative decisions around relocation and educational delivery, and has forged a role helping heal the community where George Floyd was killed by police in 2020.
“The commitment to address issues of white supremacy and white nationalism is ever at the forefront of their thinking,” she said. “The cities (of Minneapolis and St. Paul) have been bowed down with grief and a culture of lament has emerged. Part of my role will be to engage that reality.”
Marshall is no stranger to confronting challenges.
She was the first female theology professor and associate dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, positions she resigned in 1994 under pressure from conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention.
She went on to serve at Central Seminary from 2004 to 2020, becoming the first woman to lead a Baptist seminary accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Her accomplishments included reviving enrollment and restoring financial viability through leadership, fundraising and teaching.
At United Theological Seminary, she will follow retiring President Lew Zeidner.