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NOBTS trustees OK landmark counseling degree program

DECATUR, Ga. (BP)–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees voted unanimously Sept. 9 to approve the creation of a master of arts in marriage and family counseling degree program.
The new 79-hour degree program, to begin in the spring of 1998, will be landmark among seminaries as it will qualify NOBTS graduates for licensure in all 50 states.
“Our new master of arts in marriage and family counseling degree will be the premiere degree of its kind,” said Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost. “It offers a 24-hour theological/biblical core of courses as a foundation for preparing distinctively Christian counselors. In addition, the 60 hours of counseling courses meet the highest national standards for licensure. This new degree truly will be a flagship program.”
Trustees also voted to change the name of the seminary’s 21-year-old School of Christian Training to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary College of Undergraduate Studies.
The new name “gives a clearer representation of who we are and what we are: a quality, accredited, undergraduate degree program,” said Jimmy W. Dukes, dean of undergraduate studies at NOBTS since 1990.
“This new title will keep all undergraduate work unquestionably tied to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary,” said Chuck Kelley, seminary president. The new name also “reflects what the School of Christian Training actually has been doing so well for several years now. It is not a training school; it is an accredited undergraduate school doing quality work.”
To show the high regard other accredited schools have for New Orleans Seminary graduates, Dukes reported a December 1996 baccalaureate graduate, David Arthur Cook of Meridian, Miss., was accepted at Princeton University for master’s-level work this fall.
Originally the School of Christian Training was developed to provide certificate, non-degree work at the main campus and its extension centers. By the late 1980s, accredited associate degree programs were available in pastoral ministries, Christian education and church music ministries at the main campus and the extension centers. Then in August 1992, the School of Christian Training began offering a fully accredited baccalaureate degree program, granting bachelor of arts and bachelor of general studies degrees with majors in pastoral ministries, Christian education and music. To be approved for admission to any undergraduate degree work, applicants must have been a Christian for at least one year, must have the endorsement of a local church and must be at least age 21.
As with the NOBTS School of Christian Training, credits earned at the NOBTS College of Undergraduate Studies may be transferred to another institution at the discretion of the receiving institution.
In his presidential report to trustees, Kelley, whose inauguration was held during the fall 1996 trustee meeting, said while all key faculty positions have been filled, the seminary has seven additional faculty vacancies due to expansion of several degree programs. Fall enrollment statistics will be released at the end of October when the six SBC seminaries traditionally announce their registration figures together.
In relating the many community events in which the seminary has become involved over the past year, Kelley said he has received phone calls and letters from members of the community expressing their “positive high regard” for the seminary. “They realize we are an active neighbor that wants the best for the neighborhood,” Kelley said.
The latest development in a busy year of community involvement, Kelley said, is the start of a ministry created by Christian education professor Perry Hancock and his wife, Tonya, this summer, concentrating on New Orleans’ Desire Housing Project. Kelley said at least one salvation of an adult already has been reported. At the end of August, with the help of other professors and students, more than 550 backpacks filled with school supplies and some Christian literature were distributed — with the blessing of the principal, who is a Christian — to children who attend the public elementary school in the Desire Housing Project neighborhood. In addition, professors and students have started teaching weekly job skill classes such as typing, computer and GED courses, as well as piano and organ lessons and beginning music skills classes called “Tuneful Thursdays” for young children.
Other neighborhood events this year, Kelley said, have been a continual commitment to cleanup of the Gentilly/Chef Menteur Highway area around the seminary property; a spring witnessing blitz with more than 100 reported salvation experiences; two neighborhood Bible studies begun by students at the seminary’s off-campus Gentilly apartment complex; a town meeting on the campus with more than 100 community residents attending; and participation by seminary administration in the mayor’s economic development campaign for the Gentilly/Chef Menteur corridor.
In detailing his action plan for the seminary’s academic future, Kelley said he wants to:
— create innovative degree programs;
— retool existing degree programs;
— enhance the campus environment;
— reexamine the shape of the faculty; and
— emphasize access to quality theological education.
In other business, trustees:
— approved three faculty accessions. Steve W. Lemke, elected provost July 15, was named professor of philosophy; Charles W. Gaines, appointed dean of students June 3, was named associate professor of church administration; and Richard Johnson, a doctoral student from Gulfport, Miss., was named instructor in New Testament and Greek.
— granted tenure to Harold R. Mosley, assistant professor of Old Testament and Hebrew.
— named two recently retired professors to emeritus status: W. Edward Thiele as professor emeritus of discipleship and H. Leroy Yarbrough as professor emeritus of choral conducting and music theory.
— approved a proposal for an expanded computer classroom and lab facility.
— approved a proposal to renovate an existing structure into a new student recruitment facility.
— approved letters of commendation to three staff members — Chris Friedmann, director of facilities; Stan Watts, director of auxiliary services; and Laurie Watts, director of information services — “in recognition of their unselfish service and exceptional work performance” during the 1996-97 academic year.
The annual fall meeting of NOBTS trustees was the first full board meeting to be held at New Orleans Seminary’s North Georgia Campus in Decatur. The 6.5-acre campus — which includes a three-story educational facility, a 1000-seat chapel, a gymnasium and a full office complex — was a gift to the seminary in 1994 from the members of Columbia Drive Baptist Church. The North Georgia Campus has a full day and evening schedule of classes toward the doctor of ministry, master of divinity and associate degree programs.

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  • Debbie Moore