The Mississippi Baptist Seminary was founded in 1941 by Dr. Herbert L. Lang, who was its first president. While serving as president of Union Baptist Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana, Dr. Lang discovered that a majority of the students enrolled at Union were from Mississippi. In response, he organized Bible classes and institutes in Tylertown, Magnolia, the Gulf Coastal Region, the South-Central Region, the Delta Region, and as far north as Sardis.
So vast was the opportunity and so great was the need that Dr. Lang resigned from the presidency of Union Baptist Seminary to give full-time service to extension work in Mississippi. He had no means of financial support but trusted God to raise up friends in Mississippi who would support this work.
Professor J. E. Johnson, the founder and President of Prentiss Institute and Junior College, visited Dr. Lang in 1942 and persuaded him to go to Jefferson Davis County to organize a Bible class at Prentiss Institute. The class was begun in the summer of 1943. Interest in the Seminary for the training of ministers was intense. A historic meeting took place in the home of Professor and Mrs. Johnson on December 31, 1943. Attending this meeting were: Reverend E. T. Oatis, Reverend M.L. Gray, Reverend Eddie Barnes, Mr. U. S. Polk, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Johnson, and Dr. Herbert L. Lang. At this meeting, the Union Theological Seminary was founded. The Seminary was incorporated as the Mississippi Union Theological Seminary and a charter of incorporation was granted by the State on March 15, 1944. On May 30, 1948, the name of the Seminary was changed to the Mississippi Baptist Seminary. Jackson, Mississippi was selected as its permanent location.
On February 9, 1944, another historic meeting took place in the Pastor’s study of the First Baptist Church, Indianola, Mississippi. This meeting was called by Dr. D. A. McCall, Secretary of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Attending this meeting were: Mr. John Davis, President of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board; Dr. J. D. Ray, Chairman of the Committee on African-American Work, Mississippi Baptist Convention Board; Dr. G. Norman Price, Pastor, First Baptist Church; and Dr. Herbert L. Lang, President and Founder of Mississippi Baptist Seminary. Dr. Lang proposed that Mississippi Baptist Seminary would be a cooperative venture of White and African-American Baptist Churches and conventions offering in-service training to Negro ministerial and lay leadership, taking them where they were in educational preparation and offering them courses of value on a level of their apprehension and utilization. This proposal was accepted. Thus began a cooperative work in the mission which has brought about reconciliation and understanding.
This cooperative sponsorship of the Seminary continued through December 1988. On January 1, 1989, the Mississippi Baptist Convention terminated its sponsorship and financial support of the Seminary, thus turning control of the Seminary over to National Baptists.
The General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi (GMBSC) under the leadership of Dr. Jerry Young, president, purchased and procured The Mississippi Baptist Seminary at its 116th year Annual Session in Jackson, Mississippi. Now under new leadership and name, the seminary’s main campus opened temporarily at the Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church, 1245 Tunica Street, Jackson, Mississippi, and classes began October 2005.
The newly appointed interim president was Pastor Carl E. Thomas, Clarksdale, Mississippi and the interim Dean of Academic Affairs was Reverend Eric Williams, Jackson, Mississippi. In September 2005, Dr. Young challenged the convention to achieve greatness for the glory of God and the good of our communities through its offerings of ministries and missions.
In 2007, the Mississippi Baptist Seminary, Main Campus was completely renovated and the building was opened for administrative operation and classes in September of 2007. Dr. Isiac Jackson, Jr. was appointed President and Dr. John Patrick was appointed Academic Dean of Students. Under Dr. Jackson’s leadership, the Board of Directors, and the administration, the Seminary student population grew. Dr. Jackson was instrumental in the reestablishment of policies and procedures under which the Seminary continues to operate. In 2010, Dr. Jackson was elected President of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention and Dr. Lewis Ragins was appointed President of the Seminary. Dr. Ragins served from 2010 until his death in 2013. Dr. Ragins dedicated himself to the Seminary and often stated that “We are committed to the idea of moving our Seminary and Bible College toward credibility and full accreditation.” In 2014, Dr. C. J. Rhodes was appointed president of the Seminary. At the Spring 2020 Session of the General Missionary Baptist State Convention, Reverend Marcus Cheeks was appointed President of the Mississippi Baptist Seminary.