NBTS…Providing Excellent Theological Education since 1898. Here is our Story
The beginning of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary (NBTS), Ogbomoso, Nigeria, can be traced back to the closing years of the nineteenth century. Recognizing the need for education and leadership training among converts, Rev. Charles Edwin Smith, a missionary of United States of America, started a “Preachers’ Training Class” in Ogbomoso, Nigeria for Baptist Mission Station workers on May 3, 1898. A two-storey building was completed for the “Baptist Training Institute” in 1902 and within two years, about thirty students were trained by Rev. C. E. Smith, J. S. Compare, and N.D. Oyerinde. From its beginning until 1920, the institution had a peripatetic existence, being located in Ogbomoso until 1904, then in Abeokuta (1904-1905), again in Ogbomoso (1906-1914) and later in Saki (1914-1919). During these years, the leadership of the school changed thirteen times. From 1920 until 1936, theological training was administered as part of the Baptist College and Seminary in Ogbomoso. Dr. J. C. Pool joined the staff of this institution in 1934, with special responsibilities for theological training.
From 1936-1938, the Seminary section of the Baptist College and Seminary was located in Abeokuta. Since 1939, the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary has permanently been located in Ogbomoso while the Baptist College moved to Iwo. Dr. J. C. Pool served as Principal from 1934 until his retirement in 1970. Six basic courses were developed during his principalship: degree (B.Th.); advanced certificate in theology (discontinued in 1972); certificate in theology; certificate in religious education (begun in August, 1962); curriculum in theology for Yoruba speaking students (discontinued in May, 1967); and a curriculum for students’ wives.
In 1948, the Seminary was officially affiliated to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, United States of America. By this arrangement, qualified students trained in Ogbomoso Seminary who have been granted degrees were awarded in 1950, the graduands having satisfied the requirements for graduation in 1948, thus making the NBTS, Ogbomoso to become the first tertiary institution to award degrees in Nigeria. The Seminary (NBTS began its Bachelor of Religious Education Programme in 1970, conferring the first degree in it in 1973. Presently, the Seminary awards diploma in Women Ministry and in Church Music, graduate and postgraduate degrees in theology, religious education, church music and missiology.
The Seminary became a postgraduate school with effect from August, 2002. With this new status, the Seminary now concentrates on post-baccalaureate and postgraduate programmes. However, the Seminary will still continue to offer undergraduate courses for which facilities do not exist in other Baptist theological institutions, e.g. all church music courses, missions’ courses and religious education courses. Similarly, all the Baptist Colleges of Theology in Southern Nigeria, i.e. in Benin City, Eku, Obinze-Owerri, Lagos and Oyo operating under the proprietorship of the Nigerian Baptist Convention were affiliated to the Seminary with effect from the 2002/2003 academic session for proper co-ordination and quality control of their theological academic programmes.
Administration, chapel-library, and classroom buildings, presently used by the Seminary, were first occupied in 1955. A new administration building was completed in 1972 and an annex to the library was occupied in August, 1973. A new Pre-School Religious Education Centre building was occupied in July, 1975 with an additional extension in July, 1975 with an additional extension in 2007/2008. The Music and Communications Building opened in 1979 and the Mass Media building was completed in 1981.
In the decade of the seventies, two significant events occurred in the life of the Seminary. During the inauguration service of Dr. C. F. Whirley, who served as Principal from 1970 to 1979, the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC) was formally recognized as proprietor of the Seminary. Then, in 1979, Dr. (Now Professor) Osadolor Imasogie became the first Nigerian to head the institution. His inauguration as Principal (which later became President) on August 18, 1979 received international attention among Baptists.
The decade of the eighties witnessed increasing support of the Seminary by the NBC and growing international recognition of the Seminary. The NBC began giving grants for capital expenditures which resulted in two new staff houses in 1980, additions completed in 1983 to all of the apartments for married students, an additional staff house in 1984, and annual grants for other purposes. An addition to the Administration Building – financed from the Seminary Endowment Fund proceeds-was completed in 1984.
Graduate of the Seminary have made excellent records in graduate schools in Africa, Europe and America. Fifty-five percent (55%) of all degree graduates since 1971 up to the end of the eighties have undertaken higher studies. The Seminary’s long-range faculty development programmes have begun to yield results. Some of the Nigerian faculty members with Ph.D. are being added to the faculty periodically.
The decade of the nineties witnessed the following new programmes.
- Bachelor of Arts (Religious Studies) of the University of Ibadan
- Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
- Master of Divinity in Christian Education (M.Div.C.E.)
- Master of Divinity in Church Music (M.Div.C.M.)
- Master of Theology (M.Th.)
- Master of Theology in Christian Education (M.Th.C.E.)
- Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.)
- Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)
- Ph.D. Programmes in Theology and Religious Education
New programmes appearing in the current edition of the Seminary Catalogue are:
- Master of Divinity: Chaplaincy
- Some specializations of Master of Arts: Biblical Studies, Religious Education, Church Music, Youth Ministry, Missiology and Bible Translation.
- Master of Philosophy in Christian Studies.
- Master of Theology in Intercultural Studies
- Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Worship.
Distance Learning Centre was established in July 2019 with the mandate to enhance face-to-face classes technology to introduce full online training programmes and to coordinate restoration of theological education by-extension (TEE) programme of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
The following ancillary education programmes have also been put in place during this decade:
- Staff Primary School
- Smith International Baptist Academy (SIBAO)
- French Language Resource Centre
- Computer Training Centre
Facilities (structures) put in place include a multi-storey single men dormitory, Health Clinic, Business Centre, Petrol Station, an eight-classroom block (for the Staff Primary School) and a secondary school classroom building complex for Smith International Baptist Academy (SIBAO). Some other recent addition to the buildings and other facilities in the campus are: Construction of campus road, network (2007); administrative block for bursary/accounts (2003) and Business Centre building (2007); Imasogies, Obaje and Ilori (2005) and Whirley hall (2012) at the Guest House and phase 1of postgraduate residential hall (2015).
It is pertinent to add that the end of the decade of the nineties marked the end of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (USA) century-long financial and personnel assistance to the Seminary. The decade also witnessed the almost 100 percent Nigerianization of the teaching and administrative staff of the school.
The beginning of the second century of the existence of the Seminary witnessed the addition of the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.). A Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) was proposed and approved, thus making the Seminary to be in a position to offer all postgraduate degree programmes in theology, religious education, and church music. The appointment of a third indigenous President with effect from July 1, 2003 was approved by the Nigerian Baptist Convention, the proprietor of the Seminary. He is Reverend Professor Joseph Abiodun Ilori. He succeeded the former President, Reverend Professor Y. A. Obaje, who completed his tenure of service on June 30, 2003. Prof. Deji Isaac Ayegboyin served as the fourth indigenous President of the Seminary in 2008-2013. The fifth and current President is Reverend Professor Ezekiel Emiola Nihinlola whose leadership tenure started in July 2013.