Brief History

Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary is an institution created and nurtured under the auspices of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Inc. During the current academic year LBTS we will continue to celebrate our fortieth year. We were established in March 1976.

When Liberian Baptists formed their convention in 1880 they were intentional in the hope that education would be an important part of their lives. They believed then and now that the Gospel is best served in cooperation of all human faculties: heart, soul, strength, and mind (see Luke 10:27). Steps toward Baptist educational institutions in Liberia began in 1887 with the establishment of Ricks Institute in Virginia. Other schools, primary and secondary in focus, followed.

Finally, the dream from 1880 included a seminary. In the late 1960s LBMEC President, Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr. called for such a school. And, so, in 1976 Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary came into being. (See a more detailed account below.) 

The Seminary operates under the proprietorship of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Inc. through a Board of Trustees approved by the LBEMC. The chief executive officer is a president whom the Board of Trustees elects. The history of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary began in 1880 when the constitution of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention was written. During the 1964 Annual Session of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention held with Mt. Galilee Baptist Church, Caryesburg, Rev. Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr., President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention since 1958 made the following statements:

  • Let me remind you that the builders of our constitution in 1880 set out as one of the targets to be hit by them and succeeding generations, “the establishment of theological institutions for the training of young men for the ministry.” Since then, eighty-four long years have rolled by and, sad to say, not one such institution has been founded, neither is any even in sight. How disappointing and disheartening, to say the least, this can be to any serious minded Baptist, concerned about carrying out the objective of the Convention.

In response to Dr. Tolbert’s annual message, Rev. Bradley D. Brown, a Southern Baptist Missionary, then assigned in Grand Bassa County, quickly focused upon the necessity of leadership for a central Baptist Bible Training Center for Liberia.

In 1969, during the 55th Annual Session of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention held at Shiloh Baptist Church, Virginia, the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, with cooperative effort of the then Southern Baptist Mission in Liberia gave birth to the Baptist Training Center.

The Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary was opened formally during a special convocation service in March 1976. Given his proven leadership abilities, Director Rev. Bradley D. Brown was elected to serve as the first President of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary.

The first graduation, with twelve students, was held in December 1979, with the late Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr., President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, delivering a challenging address to the graduates. It was most fitting that he should be the speaker at what would be the only commencement he would attend.

The Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary obtained full accreditation for its degree programs from the Accrediting Council for Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA) in 1983. (In these post-war and post-Ebola days we are renewing our credentials.)

Rev. John Mark Carpenter was elected the second President of the Seminary in 1984 and served until 1990. His leadership strongly emphasized evangelism, church planting and Theological Education by Extension (TEE).

Rev. James A. Park succeeded Rev. Carpenter as the third President of the Seminary in January 1992, and classes reopened (from the civil crisis) in April, 1992. He served until 1995. Rev. Theophilus Allen and Rev. Moses A Rouhlac, Jr., served as Acting Presidents of the Seminary from 1996 until 1998.

Dr. Lincoln S. Brownell, Jr., a 1984 alumnus of LBTS became the fourth President and the first Liberian President of the Seminary on August 24, 1998. He served until 2006. Following the end of his tenure in May, 2006, the Management Team headed by Dr. Tidi Speare-Stewart, Acting President, assumed the leadership of the Seminary.

Rev. Arnold Hill, a Baptist minister and business executive, recently residing in the United States, became the fifth LBTS President in October 2009. He served until March 2013.

The Rev. Toby Gbeh became Acting President and served in that capacity through the end of 2013.

On November 22, 2013 Rev. Dr. Richard Francis Wilson was elected by the Board of Trustees as the sixth LBTS President. The conditions of his election
included a one-year term of service through the generosity of Mercer University, a partner in ministry with the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention. Wilson was installed in March 2014 and, then, in August 2014 his term of service was extend through 2016.

Dr. Momolu Armstrong Massaquoi, PhD, was elected as the 8th President, after Dr. Terry L. Henry, whose tenure ended in December, 2019.

A capable, qualified, and committed faculty offers some of the best seminary training in Liberia and Africa. Graduates of the Liberia Baptist Theological
Seminary are assured of an opportunity to establish a good spiritual and academic foundation. The seminary welcomes qualified women and men who desire preparation for ministry, whether in the local church or in larger society. While committed to Baptist roots and principles, the seminary is open to all members of the body of Christ. Non-Liberian students are welcome under the stipulations of the Liberian government.

More than 600 students have passed through our halls, all earning degrees that have prepared them for service around the world. Those graduates serve in many capacities, ranging from the local church, to denominational service, to public service, to private business and industry.

Graduates of LBTS have been accepted and have graduated from graduate schools in Liberia, across Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The future is bright for continued opportunities for higher education.