Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary was planted 40 years ago in the soil of a thriving local church. However, our story begins nearly a quarter-century earlier in 1949 when Dr. William Rice was called to pastor a small Baptist church in Melvindale, Michigan. As Dr. Rice faithfully preached the Word to his flock, God began to strengthen and expand the work.
Upon merging with another Baptist church in nearby Allen Park, the church broke ground for a new facility in the early 1950s and changed its name to Inter-City Baptist Church (ICBC). Yet another building was dedicated in 1964 to accommodate the growing congregation. Future expansion included new facilities for Inter-City Baptist Elementary and High Schools, a bookstore and a retirement center.
In the mid-1970s, Dr. Rice moved forward with his vision for a Baptist theological seminary in the Detroit area. He met with a group of local pastors who formed an advisory board. Together, they outlined plans for a seminary committed to expository preaching and a practical local church ministry.
After much prayer, anticipation and hard work, Detroit Baptist Divinity School opened in 1976 with thirty students and five men on the faculty. Classes were held at the church until 1979 when a new seminary building was dedicated across the street. That same year, the seminary received approval from the state of Michigan to offer the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees and became Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (DBTS).
By the early 1980’s, the seminary board had assembled a core group of professors that would go on to invest the remainder of their teaching ministries at DBTS. Students benefitted from a classroom experience shaped by an integrated theological position and a warm pastoral perspective. Continued growth and investment from ICBC brought a maturity of library resources, an expanding reputation for academic excellence and deeper involvement in local and global ministry.
Dr. Rice served as DBTS president and head of the Pastoral Theology department for 13 years until his retirement in 1989. Inter-City Baptist Church called Dr. David Doran to become senior pastor of ICBC and leader of the seminary board. Faculty member Dr. Rolland McCune served as president of DBTS until his retirement in 2004, serving with distinction while giving students a comprehensive view of systematic theology. Dr. Doran became president in 2004 and Dr. William Combs began his tenure as Dean, serving faithfully until his recent retirement. Upon joining DBTS in 2015, Dean Brian Trainer began leading the seminary through the next phase of growth and service to Christ.
Over time the seminary’s impact has expanded well beyond the classroom with ministries such as the annual Mid-America Conference on Preaching. Since 1996 DBTS has published annual editions of the Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal featuring scholarly literature from a fundamentalist perspective. In 2001 ICBC founded Grace Baptist Mission to help DBTS graduates spread the gospel around the world.
In the spirit of the seminary’s founder, DBTS graduates are committed to accurate exegesis and faithful exposition of the Scriptures. They have influenced thousands of people for Christ around the world while fulfilling their individual callings as pastors, missionaries and teachers. With continued dependence upon God, DBTS stands ready to serve the next generation of servants called to exalt His name in the earth.