SWBTS, OBU partnership shortens
path to master’s degree

By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Oklahoma Baptist University have established a pathway for OBU bachelor’s students to enter Southwestern Seminary’s master’s programs with advanced standing, expediting their theological education, the two schools announced Nov. 11.

“I’m delighted with this new partnership with OBU, further strengthening the strong relationship between Seminary Hill and Bison Hill,” said Adam W. Greenway, president of Southwestern Seminary. “It’s a win-win-win — for Southwestern Seminary, for OBU, and, most of all, for students.”

The relationship between the two institutions provides an accelerated pathway from a bachelor’s degree at OBU to a master’s degree at Southwestern Seminary. OBU students will be able to receive master’s credit at Southwestern Seminary for work done at OBU. Thus, upon enrollment at Southwestern Seminary, OBU graduates will already be well down the road toward a master’s degree.

Through this collaboration, bachelor’s graduates from OBU who have already taken courses in Old Testament, New Testament, biblical languages, and church history may demonstrate their proficiency in these subjects through advanced standing tests at Southwestern Seminary. If graduates pass these tests, then they will receive credit for these courses at the master’s level, and they will not be required to repeat them during their studies at the seminary.

“In short,” explained Mark Leeds, registrar at Southwestern Seminary, “this partnership provides a more efficient way for students to train for their calling.”

Randy L. Stinson, provost and vice president for academic administration at Southwestern Seminary, said the relationship is beneficial for both institutions and serves as an example of cooperation between like-minded institutions.

“We are excited about the partnership, which will provide a pathway for OBU students to enter master’s programs at Southwestern ahead of the game,” Stinson said. “We look forward to a healthy and prosperous relationship between OBU and Southwestern for many years into the future.”

“For over 100 years, Oklahoma Baptist University has transformed lives through a distinctively Christian liberal arts education,” said Heath A. Thomas, newly elected president of OBU. “We are discerning in our partnerships — we partner with like-minded institutions in our Baptist family that are committed to biblical, orthodox, and practical ministry training. Southwestern Seminary has been committed to this vision for decades.

“OBU has worked with Southwestern Seminary for a B.A. to M.Div. pathway through extension centers in the past, but we believe this new pathway will serve our students strategically for the future, saving them time and money as they move from a world-class undergraduate education to a world-class graduate education.”

Thomas added that, as both an OBU and Southwestern Seminary alum, he is delighted to see this fellowship emerge between the two institutions. “It is true that we can do more together than we can do alone,” he said.

For more information, contact the Southwestern registrar’s office at [email protected] or 817-923-1921, ext. 2000.


Spurgeon College adds soccer
to intercollegiate sports

By T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Less than six months after announcing its foray into intercollegiate athletics through a basketball program, Spurgeon College unveiled plans on Nov. 11 to field men’s and women’s soccer teams at the school.

With collegiate facilities now in place on campus and with the hiring of a head coach, the process of forming men’s and women’s soccer teams is fully underway.

In October of 2018, Midwestern Seminary’s trustees received plans from the administration to field sports teams at Spurgeon College through the NCCAA, beginning with basketball. This October, the school hired Matt Risher as head coach and informed the NCCAA of the school’s intent to field men’s and women’s soccer teams.

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of men’s and women’s soccer to the athletic program at Spurgeon College,” said president Jason Allen. “Several factors, including the initial success and strong community interest in our Knights basketball program, have weighed heavily in our decision to add these new teams to our sports programs. Each will bring a unique and valuable contribution to our campus community.

“I am also very pleased to introduce Matt Risher as the program’s head coach. After conducting a thorough search for the right man for this position, it was clear that Coach Risher possessed all the attributes we desired in leading these teams. He is a young man with great personal experience at the Division I college-level. He also possesses energy, knowledge of the game, and excellent leadership abilities. Most importantly, he seeks to lead a group of young men and women to become passionate and effective followers of Christ. He sees soccer as an environment that’s conducive for discipleship.”

Risher has been a student at Midwestern Seminary for the past 2 years — graduating with a master of divinity degree and currently pursuing a Ph.D. in systematic theology. However, prior to his time in Kanas City, he played college soccer at Marshall University in West Virginia and Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina. During his college career, Risher scored nine goals and helped lead Coastal Carolina to two Big South Conference championships. While a student at Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, N.C., he was a three-time all-state player, scoring more than 70 career goals.

“It is a tremendous honor to be named the head coach of the men’s and women’s soccer teams. I am excited about the ability to impact Christ’s Kingdom through the world’s most popular game,” Risher said. “My goal for the Knights is three-fold: Primarily, I am viewing this as a discipleship program. Soccer will be the instrument used to help mold and shape these young men and women into what God has called them to be in the future — namely faithful church members, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers.

“Secondly, we aim to be a competitive program. The difference between high school and college soccer is huge. I look forward to the challenge of having a team that can successfully compete at this level. Finally, we aim to advance the Kingdom of God. Soccer can be used as a platform to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ across the world.”

Risher added that he’s encouraged by the excitement and energy about the program that’s building around campus and said he senses that the program will provide the campus community an enhanced experience for students, faculty, and staff alike.

During its initial campaign, the two teams will play at the junior varsity level with a majority of the team’s competition being local and regional NAIA and Division II squads.

Risher noted that program planning, development, and recruiting are underway but in their earliest stages. He also has been spending time formulating the values and framework for the team, so that the players and assistants will know why they do what they do, and exactly how they are going to do it. This includes developing his coaching philosophy, the vision, the teams’ mission, as well as the offensive and defensive schemes.

From a recruiting standpoint, Risher said the process is underway with several prospective players visiting campus in the days ahead. He added there’s a specific type of player that he’s interested in joining the team.

“I am looking for high character young men and women,” he said. “We are trying to create a culture of excellence, and that will require people who come in ready to work. My coaching style is one that attracts players who enjoy a possession style of soccer. We want highly-technical players who can play quickly and want to score goals.”

The Knights will begin play in the fall of 2020 with matches potentially being lined for a September start. Matches will be played on Midwestern Seminary’s campus on the newly established pitch to the north of the Mathena Student Center. Risher hopes to have 12 matches for the inaugural first season.

To learn more about the Spurgeon College Knights men’s and women’s soccer teams, visit www.spurgeoncollege.com/athletics or contact coach Risher directly at [email protected].


International Alliance for Christian
Education to launch in January 2020

By Staff

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Leaders of the International Alliance for Christian Education announced today that the organization would launch operations in January 2020, seeking to unite Christian educators in every global region around their mutual commitments to Christ-centeredness and confessional solidarity.

The IACE will seek to provide strong connections and collaborative opportunities for a growing list of Christian education programs on every continent.

IACE president David S. Dockery said the new alliance would not seek to compete with nor replace existing organizations doing similar work. But he said a network is needed to represent all sectors of Christian education, complementing and partnering with the existing organizations whenever possible.

“The IACE will be more focused than some other Christian education networks, in light of its exclusive confessional composition,” Dockery said.

The core criteria for membership include a Christ-centered mission and employment policies, cooperative and collaborative spirit, confessional commitments rooted in the truthfulness of Holy Scripture, and a cultural witness that reflects biblical orthodoxy and historic Christian teachings.

“For several years, our association’s board and senior leadership have been convinced God is calling us to seek to ally ourselves and actively collaborate with a larger circle of confessionally congruent fellow Christian educators from around the world,” said Ralph Enlow, IACE board chair and president of the Association for Biblical Higher Education. “That divine prompting has found expression and embrace in the emergence of IACE.”

Three membership categories will serve educational and academic organizations, degree-granting institutions, and partners who exhibit commitment to intellectual discipleship while encouraging the work of Christian education.

By the end of 2020, IACE leaders plan to form a fellowship group intended to connect the shared interests of confessional Christian colleges and universities, gap-year programs, and seminaries/divinity schools.

“We’re always encouraged by new initiatives that provide increased attention and conversation around the value and life-changing work of Christian higher education,” Council for Christian Colleges & Universities president Shirley Hoogstra said. “We look forward to opportunities to partner with IACE leadership to continue to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education.”

“A decade from now, I think we will all look back and see the significance of this organization and prophetic foresight and leadership exercised by David Dockery and others,” Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary provost Bruce Ashford said.

The IACE currently has commitments from 50 charter institutions and seven organizations, with more expected to join prior the January launch. Leaders are considering a separate affiliate membership status for institutions that meet some but not all of the criteria for full membership.

In addition to Dockery, other IACE officers include Enlow; Carl Zylstra (vice chair), past president, Dordt College and executive director, Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities; Gene Fant (treasurer), president, North Greenville University; and Barbara McMillin (secretary), president, Blue Mountain College. Other Board members include: Robert Sloan, president, Houston Baptist University, Mark Bailey, president, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Peter Teague, president, Lancaster Bible College/Capital Seminary, among others.

In addition to the governing board, more than 20 key Christian leaders will serve as Board of Reference members and/or Senior Fellows, including:

— Robert C. Andringa, managing partner of the Andringa Group and former president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

— D. A. Carson, president, The Gospel Coalition

— Graham Cole, dean and vice president for education, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

— Yoon Hee Kim, president, Torch Trinity Graduate University, Seoul, South Korea

— Josh Moody, senior pastor, The College Church, Wheaton, Illinois

— Russell Moore, president, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

— Michael Oh, president, Lausanne Fellowship

— Karen Swallow Prior, professor of English, Liberty University

— Thom Rainer, president, Church Answers and past president, LifeWay Christian Resources

— Luder Whitlock, president emeritus, Reformed Theological Seminary and former president, Trinity Forum

Because key leaders, institutions, and alliances are involved, IACE can be thought of as a network of networks and organizations. The launch has prompted enthusiastic responses from key leaders in Christian higher education.

“Through IACE, Christian education’s many separate networks can discover and model what it means to affirm and live out ‘in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love,'” Andringa said. “IACE is a visionary initiative with an audacious promise.”

“Having our various Christian education sectors linked together through IACE as an ongoing network holds promise for making our united movement and each sector much more effective as we collectively or individually face challenges,” said Paul R. Corts, the former president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Wingate University.”

“It is a wonderful new initiative with an impressive array of opportunities for Christian institutions,” Sloan said. “It enables us to expand our academic and professional relationships, enrich our opportunities for academic networking, and also deepen the missional commitments of our institution.”

“I am excited about the work of IACE because it is a great cloud of like-minded educators and organizations, encouraging and reminding me that as we are about Kingdom work, including the work of education, we have many partners around the world and in all levels of learning,” Fant said. “The IACE is an alliance of encouragement and professional edification for our shared work.”

Dockery said IACE plans an initial membership gathering for February 12-14, 2020 at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida. As IACE develops, he said it is possible the alliance would schedule larger biennial or triennial meetings.

For a more detailed introduction to IACE, please visit the organization’s new website at iace.education.

    About the Author

  • SBC Seminaries and IACE Staff

    Alex Sibley is associate director of news and information at SWBTS. T. Patrick Hudson is assistant professor of communications and history at Spurgeon College.

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