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Northeastern ministry school moving to ‘practical’ emphasis

JOPPA, Md. (BP)–Short-term, non-credit ministry training experiences for church leaders who are not necessarily interested in a theological degree will become the main thrust of the Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry, its leaders have announced.
NeBSM leaders also are planning to open four more ministry training centers, in Boston, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Baltimore, by September 1998.
David Flumbaum, NeBSM executive director, said: “(In response to) the pressing needs for training of lay leaders and church staff, who desire more flexibility in their learning experiences than a degree program can deliver, we will redirect our energies and our resources, both human and fiscal, towards getting a network of practical, ministry-training opportunities up and running as quickly as possible.”
Key changes in strategy were approved by NeBSM’s board of directors at their Sept. 26-27 meeting in Newark, N.J.
Specifically, NeBSM’s key priorities, according to Flumbaum, will become church leadership, urban ministry and biblical studies. Certificates or other forms of recognition for study completed, such as continuing education units (CEUs), currently are being developed.
Thirty-six students attended NeBSM’s first ministry training seminar Aug. 4-7 in conjunction with the Northeast Baptist Leadership Development Conference at Eastern College, St. Davids, Pa. Evangelist Billie Hanks Jr., taught a seminar on “Multiplication Evangelism Through Mentoring.”
Those attending the 11-hour session had the opportunity to earn 1.1 hours of CEUs from NeBSM, the first time the Joppa, Md.,-based organization has offered such study credits.
Following that meeting, Hanks and an associate, Greg Tyler, held a three-hour introductory version of the same seminar in cooperation with NeBSM in eight northeast locations, from Pittsburgh to Portland. A total of 176 people attended one of these experiences, one-fifth of whom requested NeBSM credit. Hanks said 32 of the 52 churches represented at the NeBSM seminars have begun the process of multiplication evangelism through mentoring, utilizing the resources of his International Evangelism Association.
NeBSM officials consider both the Pennsylvania seminar and the eight regional sessions pilot projects to help them fine-tune their ministry training practices.
“We have more preliminary work to do in the next few months to better organize ourselves for registration and record keeping, as well as with other ministry-training management procedures,” Flumbaum observed. “These meetings went very well, but it was a learning process for us.”
Flumbaum also announced a board decision regarding the director of theological education: “Andrew Lee has agreed to continue his employment with NeBSM through July 31, 1998. He will continue to address some of the program needs related to degree programs, but he will begin to transition those responsibilities to the center directors and to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary staff.”
With NeBSM priorities being reordered to focus on ministry training, Lee, of Staten Island, N.Y., will assist Flumbaum in addressing ministry training priorities.
Flumbaum emphasized that theological education, principally the master of divinity degree track of courses offered at six locations in partnership with Southern Seminary, and Young Leader Development, a new program that will be launched for high school students next summer, will continue to be Northeastern Baptist School of Ministry priorities.
Flumbaum called the board decision “a shifting emphasis, not a drop” of any existing programs or plans. “There are many people for whom a master’s degree is not a readily accessible program of study because of background or academic levels of achievement. We will address those needs beginning immediately,” he said.
One way NeBSM will address those needs will be to open four urban training centers, in Boston, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Plans are being formulated for these centers in consultation with NeBSM’s founding partners, the Baptist conventions of New England, New York, Pennsylvania/South Jersey and Maryland/Delaware.
The six existing centers are located in Columbia, Md.; Northborough, Mass.; Harrisburg, Pa.; New York City (English and Korean centers); and Silver Spring, Md. (Korean center).
NeBSM faces an immediate financial need for assistance from individuals, churches, Baptist state conventions and foundations, Flumbaum said.
To that end, the educational partnership launched a “cultivation/awareness” campaign that features mailing of an “Invitation to Partnership” packet of brochures to churches and others; a 10-minute inspirational video; scheduling of NeBSM Sunday for Feb. 15, 1998; organization of NeBSM committees in each of the four Baptist state conventions; and creation of four new displays for use at any state convention, association or church meeting.
Persons interested in receiving an informational packet, in borrowing the video or display or in ministry training opportunities being planned may contact NeBSM at 1- 800-749-5956.
“I’m not aware of this kind of initiative being done anywhere else,” Flumbaum said. “It is closer to the foreign missions model of delivering ministry training than anything I am aware of in this country. We have a bright future, but we need the help of churches and individuals and others to make the NeBSM dream a reality.”