Published July 10, 2014
Marietta — Peter Kendrick, regional associate dean of New Orleans Seminary for Georgia, stated, “It has been the vision of Dr. Charles (Chuck) Kelley (NOBTS president) to make accredited theological and ministry education affordable, accessible, and convenient for everyone.
“Today’s NOBTS student can access online programs or have the face-to-face advantage of in-person learning at an extension center without ever leaving his/her place of ministry, or use both delivery systems to meet their changing needs.”
NOBTS has offered extension classes in Georgia for 35 years. They started their Georgia extension center at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta in 1979. They eventually moved their North Georgia operations to Columbia Drive Baptist Church in Decatur.
Impact of Hurricane Katrina
First Baptist Church in Atlanta became the major educational center for NOBTS after Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans and devastated the campus in 2005. However, for the last eight years Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta has been home to the seminary’s North Georgia extension center. Additionally, NOBTS offers undergraduate classes at Phillips Prison in Buford.
The seminary also has extension centers in south Georgia at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany and Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins.
In an effort to provide quality theological training in Georgia, NOBTS will soon expand its extension classes to First Baptist Church in Duluth, First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, and Savannah Baptist Association.
In Duluth undergraduate and graduate classes will be provided for both Korean and Anglo students. The Jonesboro extension will provide undergraduate and graduate classes with the possibility of some Hispanic classes.
Kelley stated, “For more than three decades New Orleans Seminary has offered training in Georgia for pastors and ministers. We hope to lessen the commuting time for students by opening new centers in Duluth, Jonesboro, and Savannah this fall. If God has called you, we can train you in a classroom, online, in a Georgia church, or through ministry and conference experiences in the field. Students pick the delivery system. We provide the training in the manner that works best for them.
“The biggest question facing a Georgia Baptist minister who wants seminary training is no longer, ‘Where do I have to go to get it?’ The question is now ‘How do best learn?’ New Orleans has put together a cafeteria of choices that can be combined in any way that works best for the student. You can come to us or we can come to you.”
Kendrick explained, “Previously, extension center students had to come to the New Orleans campus to meet their on-campus residency requirements prescribed by accreditation. This was done primarily by taking one-week intensive courses we call academic workshops.
“However, we were recently granted comprehensive distance learning status by our accreditation agencies, so extension center students do not have to take classes on the New Orleans campus. While many may prefer to continue coming for the academic workshops in which they interact personally with on-campus professors, they may choose to take these courses online. Thus, it is possible to earn the degree without ever leaving Georgia.
“We also have nine all-online degrees, so students who cannot attend an extension center can attend online.”
Defaulting on stewardship
Kendrick, who has a wide and varied background in ministry, added, “In these years I have come to the sad realization that we have promoted the secularization of our churches and defaulted on our stewardship. Even in the late 1990s Os Guinness observed, ‘The two most easily recognizable hallmarks of the secularization in America are the exaltation of numbers and of technique.’? Too many times we are in search of the magic technique or technician to turn our numbers around.”
Kendrick concluded, “NOBTS is not interested in the magic technique or producing the wonder-working technician. We want to raise the bar [in theological education]. We are intentional about equipping believers who are not only self-consciously distinct from the culture, but who are passionately committed to changing the culture by preserving faithfulness in fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment through the local church and its ministries.
“Soldiers and policemen run toward the sound of gunfire and firemen run toward the flames. We want to equip disciples to run toward the darkness with the Gospel of God’s grace.”
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