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Why We Won’t Be Attending the Midwestern Baptist College Reunion

polly bruce gerencser cranbrook gardens bloomfield hills michigan 1978
Polly and Bruce Gerencser, Cranbrook Gardens, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Spring 1978, two months before our wedding.

My partner, Polly, and I met at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan in the fall of 1976. Midwestern was an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution started in 1954 by Dr. Tom Malone. Malone was the pastor of a nearby megachurch, Emmanuel Baptist Church. Today, Malone is dead, Emmanuel is shuttered, and Midwestern exists in name only at Shalom Baptist Church in Orion, Michigan. Never a big college, Midwestern reached an enrollment of 400 or so in the 1970s. Best I can tell, Midwestern no longer offers in-person classes, but does offer distance learning.

Midwestern graduates and attendees will gather in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for an all-year reunion this November. While Polly and I would love to attend, my health precludes me from attending. But, that’s not the only reason we won’t be in attendance. While we would love to see our classmates, we don’t have much in common with them. Perhaps the following graphic will emphasize the point I’m trying to make:

midwestern reunion

As you can see, while we would enjoy reconnecting with former classmates, Polly and I live in a completely different world from them. Most of them, all these years later, are still committed to and connected with Baptist Fundamentalism. More than a few people who will be in attendance have, at times, read this site. I still have their “loving” emails. (And yes, I have received kind, thoughtful emails from former Midwestern students too.) I am well-known in that corner of the IFB world, so many attendees know I have written extensively about Midwestern and its cultic tendencies. Spending three days with people who consider me the enemy or a tool of Satan is not my idea of a good time. (The Midwestern Baptist College Preacher Who Became an Atheist.)

Polly and I have many fond memories from our days at Midwestern. However, there is so much water under the proverbial bridge, that “fond memories” are not enough to entice us to attend the Midwestern Reunion. We look forward to seeing photos of the reunion on Midwestern’s alumni page.

Other Posts About Midwestern Baptist College

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    I wouldn’t mind going to my Christian college, but I’m too sick. I do know a lot of people show up who went and are no longer practicing that religion.

    Too bad the reunion is so focused on RELIGION. I know it’s religious but don’t those people ever relax? (I guess not.)

    • Avatar
      Revival "I Lie for Jesus" Fires

      Religion and Jesus Christ are two different things. Sadly the lost can’t see or understand this TRUTH.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Please provide evidence for your claim that religion and Jesus Christ are two different things, or I will assume you are talking out of your ass.

        The “lost” can see everything you can see, the difference being their minds aren’t polluted with religious presuppositions and proof texts. Name one thing you empirically KNOW that unbelievers can’t or don’t know. Try real hard, buddy, but don’t strain your Jesus hemorrhoids.

  2. Avatar
    Troy

    Ah shucks, I wish you could go and get a selfie with MBC’s other alum of note Kent Hovind.

    I’ve never been to the Cranbrook gardens, I do have great memories of going to the planetarium there though.

    Interesting the reunion isn’t in Michigan (would you be more likely to go if it was?) I suppose it is reasonable to expect the geographic center of graduates would be more southern.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Most Midwestern grads live in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and other Midwestern states.

      Ive attended annual Midwestern Fellowship meetings in Ohio and Michigan — regional, local meetings too. In the early 2000s, a reunion was held at Shipshewana in Indiana. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shipshewana,_Indiana) We planned to attend, but at the last minute I got really sick, so we couldn’t go. Most of the attendees were from our era at the college.

      Polly and I are members of Midwestern’s Alumni Fellowship group. I enjoy keeping up with people. The alumni running the group do a good job keeping politics and theological arguments out of discussions. No one has ever challenged our atheism or liberal political beliefs.

      • Avatar
        Troy

        That’s great if the reunion can avoid pitfalls like politics and theological discussions. Interestingly, at my 25 year high school reunion a classmate mentioned a letter-to-the-editor I had penned to a “secular” magazine (A Free Inquiry letter I wrote about the death of Carl Sagan vs. Mother Teresa, she recognized my name and city). It didn’t lead to an argument about religion, though it came up and I was a bit uncomfortable.

  3. Avatar
    velovixen

    Bruce, the schools I attended were different from yours. But even if your health were better. I could understand that you wouldn’t want to attend: I have never been to any reunion of any of my schools. Although I am curious about what some of my former classmates are doing, I have little desire to relive what I was. Much of that has to do with the fact that I am now living in my true gender identity—and had to work through a
    lot of trauma to get there.

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Bruce, it must bring up a lot of complicated feelings thinking about a Midwestern reunion. The school and people there had a tremendous impact on Young Bruce and Young Polly,but you both have gone in different directions from most of your fellow alumni. I mean, Polly sometimes wears ((gasp)) pants……😅

    I haven’t attended a reunion of my fundamentalist Christian school since 1998. Even then, I was out of evangelicalism. I spent time with my gay friend and his boyfriend – after school, he had come out and moved to LA. Apparently, I was one of the only people who felt comfortable hanging out with them – everyone else was socially polite but….that was it. At the time, I was a liberal progressive Christian and had no problem with LGBTQ people. Some people we went to school with have evolved since then, but not too many. I am not sure I would go if a reunion were planned in the near future.

  5. Avatar
    Thedutchguy

    Bruce I can identify. I’ve never been to a reunion either. Your reasons to attend (or not) are valid. The picture of you and Polly is, for lack of words, “cute”. How did Polly fall for a dorky red headed guy like you? Just kidding Bruce. It’s a cross us red head guys bear. Girls are attracted, teachers and bullies pick on us, and we survive, for better and/or worse.

  6. Avatar
    Ami

    I haven’t ever gone to a reunion. Most of the people I cared about are still in touch. The rest can drop off the edge of the earth (you do know it’s flat, right?) .

    But going to a reunion at a bible college? No one deserves to have to suffer like that!!!

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