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SBC DIGEST: NOBTS back on campus; MBTS to offer online live lectures; Billy Graham films available online

NOBTS and Leavell College resume in-person classes

By Gary D. Myers

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College celebrated the return to in-person learning Monday (Feb. 8). Even with masks and social distancing, students embraced the return to some semblance of normalcy.

“We are grateful to be able to host our students in class again. Both the faculty and the on-campus students value the opportunity to be in the same room learning together,” said Norris Grubbs, NOBTS provost. “I was so excited to walk into our student center and hear the noise of conversation and learning. You could certainly tell that everyone was happy to be back face to face.”

Before starting the fall 2020 semester, school officials planned to suspend in-person class after the Thanksgiving break to limit the chance of COVID-19 spread. A post-Christmas virus surge in the New Orleans area led city officials to introduce stricter measures. As a result, NOBTS and Leavell College spring classes began in an online format with the intention of returning to classroom learning as soon as possible.

Due to swift action by the city of New Orleans, the spread of the virus slowed during the first few weeks of 2021, and the city moved back to modified Phase 2 protocols, allowing the seminary to return to in-person classes on Feb. 8. The seminary will resume in-person chapel services Feb. 18.

According to Thomas Strong, dean of Leavell College, the first three weeks of school went well despite not meeting in person. But even with the effectiveness of the synchronous online learning environment, he said that students and professors were excited to be back in the classroom.

“We are absolutely thrilled to resume our classes on campus this week,” Strong said. “The excitement level among the students and faculty is noticeable both in the classroom and in the discussions.”

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Midwestern Seminary to offer online courses featuring live faculty lectures

By Michael S. Brooks

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has expanded its spring 2021 course offerings to include an assortment of classes offered to online students featuring live, interactive lectures from noted members of its faculty.

The courses, offered in the Spring D Term at Midwestern and Spurgeon College, will be delivered via a new online learning format known as Online Plus. The new format will include live, two-hour lectures with additional 30-minute Question-and-Answer sessions with faculty each week.

According to Provost Jason Duesing, Online Plus is the product of months of planning and serves to complement current online offerings while providing additional benefits for online students: “We’ve been asking ‘Can we complement our online degree programs with even more live access and instruction from our faculty?’”

The answer to the inquiry came under the leadership of Vice President for Student Success John Mark Yeats, who formed a committee to examine the best pedagogical short-term gains to come from teaching adaptations in light of the pandemic.

The seminary issued student surveys which showed online students desired more connection to residential faculty through live-synchronous opportunities but did not want to leave existing MBTS asynchronous online programs, given their effectiveness in terms of flexibility and complementary learning formats. The data from the surveys, paired with interdepartmental evaluation, allowed Yeats to present a long-term blueprint for what is now Online Plus.

“Listening to our students’ feedback is what ultimately moved our teams to consider the options before us and we are glad to have a clear direction forward,” Yeats said.

“Now, the answer is ‘Yes,’ Duesing added. “No matter where you live, you can now complete your degree having taken live, interactive classes, direct with our faculty, focused in a virtual setting on and for online students.”

Read the full story here.

Billy Graham videos now available on Answers TV

PETERSBURG, Ky. (BP) – The new online streaming service of Answers TV expanded this week with the addition of 55 videos from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Offerings include 18 BGEA theatrical releases, 25 TV programs and documentaries and 12 classic sermons by the late evangelist Billy Graham.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Answers in Genesis launched a state-of-the-art video streaming platform that now offers more than 3,000 videos and live programming. It can be accessed virtually anywhere in the world and already has users in more than 150 countries.

Ken Ham, founder and CEO of AiG and its popular themed attractions the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, said, “I’m thrilled to add these classic films to Answers TV. I’m old enough to remember when Billy Graham came to my homeland of Australia in the late 1950s and 1960s with large rallies in many stadiums. As a young person, I recall watching a Graham film in my church. So I’m excited to share his excellent films, especially the wonderful biographies, on our platform.”

For 70 years, BGEA has been making movies through its motion picture division, World Wide Pictures. More than just entertainment, the films share the Gospel. “Thousands will come to see a film who would never come to hear a preacher,” Billy Graham would often say.

Graham himself appears in a number of the dramas now seen on Answers TV. In addition, his grandson Will portrays the evangelist in the historical drama “Canvas Cathedral” that chronicled a time when Graham faced a crisis of faith, which almost sidelined him from ministry.

“One of my favorite BGEA films is the biography of Corrie ten Boom called ‘The Hiding Place,’” Ham said. “She was a courageous Christian who saved many Jews during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. Another movie I’ve enjoyed is ‘Joni,’ the touching story of a quadriplegic woman, Joni Eareckson Tada. After her terrible accident, Joni endured pain, bitterness, suicidal thoughts and even doubts about her faith. But the film has a happy ending. Both films are showing on Answers TV.”

Answers TV subscribers in any country are billed through their credit card in their own currency. The newly added Billy Graham videos are included in a subscription. Many of the Answers TV videos (some in Spanish and Arabic) deal with science, creation vs. evolution, Bible doctrines, and children’s content. Nature shows for the whole family and documentaries by Ray Comfort are particularly popular. Some videos deal with pressing social issues like racism. A yearly subscription is $39.99 U.S. A one-week trial is available for free.

Visit www.Answers.TV for more information.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Bible-defending) ministry based in northern Kentucky. The Ark Encounter opened in 2016 and features a 510-foot-long replica of Noah’s ark. West of the Cincinnati Airport and next to the AiG headquarters, the Creation Museum has also become a major family attraction.

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