Beeson International Center
As a bridge between Asbury Seminary and the global Church, the the Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership stewards its gifts to provoke legacy-quality demonstrations of what God will do through leaders who are convinced their worlds call for biblical transformation.
Our vision is to translate the entrustment of the Beeson learning experience into a legacy of thousands of Beeson alumni making God’s kingdom visible in every time zone around the world through the way they witness, lead and live.
“I want to make it possible for Asbury Theological Seminary to do something it would never be able to do for itself,” Ralph Waldo Beeson said. Through generous donations throughout his life and a legacy totaling $68 million, Ralph Beeson enabled Asbury Seminary to do just that.
Beeson’s gift began with a friendship. In 1910, 21-year-old J.C. McPheeters accepted an invitation to teach Latin and Greek at Meridian College in Mississippi, enabling him to take additional classes. While at Meridian College, McPheeters met John Wesley Beeson, the brother of Meridian College President, Malcom Beeson. John Wesley Beeson and his wife Annie had two sons, Ralph and Dwight, who later became generous supporters of Asbury Seminary.
The Beeson family cultivated and supported a long-time friendship with the Seminary. In 1956, John Wesley Beeson died; the first Beeson gift followed in 1957 to fund scholarships for international students. In 1959, the Beesons gave the Seminary a second gift to endow the John Wesley Beeson Chair of Mission in honor of their father.
The Beesons continued their support in 1965, funding the building of three homes for missionaries on furlough—their first capital project. These homes allowed missionaries to study while on their sabbaticals. The Beeson brothers also monetarily supported the building of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism.
In 1989, Ralph Beeson, a retired executive with the Liberty National Life Insurance Company of Birmingham, transferred 82,770 stock shares in Torchmark to Asbury Seminary. The Seminary sold the shares for more than $3.2 million.
In response to the Seminary’s need of a hotel to accommodate visitors, the Beeson family gave money in the name of their mother, Rosa Foster Beeson, to build the Rosa Foster Beeson Manor, Asbury Inn. The Inn opened in 1990 with 32 guest rooms and three townhouse apartments.
In 1990, Ralph Beeson died, bequeathing a multi-million dollar gift to the Seminary. Totaling more than $38.9 million, this gift more than doubled Asbury Seminary’s endowment. When all monies were received from his estate gift, his legacy totaled $68 million. Ralph Beeson’s generosity funded several teaching positions, buildings and scholarships. All of these support training through the Beeson Doctor of Ministry degree program tracks and other initiatives, such as Lifelong Learning and the Beeson Institute for Advanced Church Leadership.
After receiving the Beeson bequest, then president David L. McKenna said, “The Beeson gifts are an answer to the prayers of Dr. McPheeters and a confirmation of his faith… .We must remember that the cultivation for the Beeson gift began  years ago when J.C. McPheeters [met] John Wesley Beeson, father of Ralph and [Dwight] Beeson, at Meridian College.”
Ralph Beeson zealously desired to create a program to develop “high-quality pastors who can preach.” Ralph Beeson was impressed with Asbury Seminary graduates’ biblical fidelity and competent sermon delivery. He wanted America’s Protestant pulpits to regain the respect he felt they had lost.
Therefore, one of the chief purposes of the Beeson bequest was to create a program for pastors to focus on continuing their education. Later, the Beeson Program was negotiated into the Doctor of Ministry program. As such, this program seeks to provide advanced training for especially promising young ministers who are seminary graduates and have pastoral experience.
As a result, a portion of the funds were designated for the construction of the Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership. This building houses the Beeson Pastor Doctor of Ministry program and contains 11 faculty offices, 42 doctoral student study rooms, a suite of administrative offices and a practice preaching chapel. The Beeson Center also houses a media and computer center, which serves not only the Beeson Center, but every facet of the Seminary’s mission.
Adjacent to the Beeson International Center is McKenna Chapel, connected to the main building by an underground passageway. The Chapel was completed in 1995 and contains a 385-seat worship center and a distance learning facility. Lucille Beeson, the wife of Dwight Beeson, funded the construction of a pipe organ for this chapel.
During the building of the Beeson International Center, excavators tapped into two natural springs that yielded an abundance of clear water. The water in its natural state, although clean, was not deemed drinkable because it had not passed through a treatment plant. Therefore, the Seminary installed a 4,000-gallon holding tank in the basement of the Sherman Thomas Student Center to supply water for the campus sprinkler system.
The Beeson bequest also included a $1 million perpetual maintenance endowment for the Beeson International Center and its adjacent chapel.
Additional buildings funded by the Beeson bequest included several residence halls. Two 12-unit, married-student apartment buildings were constructed in 1992. They were named the “William House” and “Elizabeth House,” in appreciation for Bill and Betty Conger. Two of these apartments are designed to accommodate students with physical challenges. The Seminary also constructed a residence hall for 54 single women, named Orlean House, in honor of Orlean Beeson, wife of Ralph Beeson.
–Taken from The Story of Asbury Theological Seminary by Kenneth Cain Kinghorn
Thomas Tumblin, Dean of the Beeson International Center