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Educational partnership expected to benefit Baptist school children

SHAWNEE, Okla. (BP)–In an effort to bolster the educational opportunities for grade-school students, the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools has voted to admit colleges for membership in the organization.

“Southern Baptists have long affirmed that our denomination would develop an adequate system of Christian schools,” said Larry Taylor, president of the SBACS and headmaster of Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas.

At its executive committee meeting in late February in Dallas, SBACS officials established a category of membership for universities and colleges. Higher education institutions meeting SBACS guidelines will be admitted for membership. SBACS officials see the new structure as a way to extend the ministry of the group, which is a professional organization for kindergarten through high school Christian schools.

“The idea is that through this partnership, Christian colleges and universities can complete the task started in SBACS schools,” said Mark Brister, president of Oklahoma Baptist University, who participated in the February meeting.

Taylor said SBACS officials and leaders from several colleges and universities plan to hold a summit coordinated by OBU this summer to discuss the possibilities of the new structure.

“We are going to look at every aspect of the relationship,” said Taylor.

OBU will be the first collegiate member of SBACS. Brister said the university, owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, will offer resources to enhance learning experiences at SBACS institutions.

“We see three specific ways Christian universities can partner with SBACS,” said Brister. “We have the resources to offer advice from a network of higher education professionals, provide graduates who are prospective teachers at SBACS schools, and provide counsel for educational strategies.”

Taylor said the SBACS move to accept collegiate members “is a fulfillment, in a formal way, to provide teaching from preschool to college; advancing the next generation.”

Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, also participated in the SBACS executive committee meeting and encouraged the organization to embrace the opportunity to work with Christian colleges.

“I want to see kingdom education positioned well within our denomination, and I am committed to making education and the training of our young people a top priority,” said Graham.

“This strategic partnership will help students and their families to better define the distinct qualities of their education, and explore ways to continue that unique educational experience in the college years,” said Brister.

Taylor said SBACS exists to “advance kingdom education within Southern Baptist-sponsored schools.” He said the organization seeks to fortify school leaders by providing information, training, professional networks and an influence artery. SBACS is a nonprofit organization of Christian schools whose member schools are sponsored by Southern Baptist churches or state conventions, or share a common vision and mission.

According to its website, SBACS is “committed to programs that encourage and support excellence in Christian education, a biblical worldview in curriculum, and admissions policies that make Christian education available to all students regardless of race, national, or ethnic origin.”

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