Despite the many amenities that Central Missouri has to offer, one thing that was missing when our founder Rod Casey arrived in 1988 was easy access to master’s level theological education resources. With seminaries more than a hundred miles away, the kinds of conversations, resources, and lectures concerning biblical and practical issues that he’d grown accustomed to while doing his own seminary studies in Dallas were wanting in Columbia. While Central Missouri is home to the educational flagship of our state, no evangelical resources were available at the local or university libraries. “Somebody ought to do something about that,” he remembers thinking. And in time, somebody did.
While pastoring, Rod began relating to campus ministers, rural and urban pastors, and parachurch leaders, who began asking for help, igniting his passion to make these evangelical resources available. Embedded within a large church in the area, he started classes teaching introductory theology courses to interested students. A benefactor by the name of Bentley Wright, an evangelical intellectual himself, made financial investments for a robust reference library and furniture to be purchased for the sake of theological education. In 2012, the Theological Education Initiative of Central Missouri incorporated and became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational entity. A Board of Directors was formed and Rod Casey became the director and Bellyn Whitteker transitioned from church staff and became the executive assistant. It was the intention from the beginning that someday TEI would move to an independent location. That move happened in the summer of 2016, to the Parkade Center in Columbia, centrally located on the I-70 and Business Loop corridor, serving as an easy access point for our constituents.
We are grateful to God for the many opportunities that he has given us to bring and continue to bring intellectual scholarship to Central Missouri. Examples include the Biola apologetics team, partnerships with Dr. Hugh Ross and his scientific organization “Reasons to Believe,” as well as theological seminars on Molinism, the redemptive move hermeneutic, and the growing problem of universalism, just to name a few. In addition, we’ve convened some campus ministries and area churches to re-launch the Perspectives Course: A Study in Missions, with a successful launch of forty students in the spring of 2018.
As proud as we are of these initiatives, nothing brings us greater joy than the simple ways that God allows us to provide just the right resource at just the right time for one of his choice servants through personal mentoring, helping them navigate organizational chaos, providing financial gifts that get them the training they need. Helping them “keep the faith” is our reward.