WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary approved changes to the seminary’s associate of divinity program during their Oct. 13-14 meeting at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
The changes enhance the A.Div. program for individuals who are over 30 and called to the pastorate but do not have the undergraduate education necessary to enter a master’s degree program, said Peter Schemm, dean of Southeastern’s undergraduate school, The College at Southeastern.
“We hope that this degree will serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by training theologically minded pastors who know how to do biblical exposition,” Schemm said.
Southeastern has offered the A.Div. longer than any of its undergraduate degree programs. The 60-hour program is designed to serve those who are called into ministry later in life and do not already have an undergraduate degree, which is a prerequisite for entrance into Southeastern’s primary ministry preparation degree, the master of divinity.
SEBTS President Daniel Akin told trustees that the A.Div. contains ” the most important 60 hours for a pastor to have in order to serve faithfully.”
Schemm said the A.Div. program combines a core of general studies (English, math, history, etc.) with an emphasis on Christian studies courses like theology, biblical studies, evangelism, preaching and pastoral ministry.
The highlight of the changes to the A.Div., Schemm said, include designating four courses as the pastoral ministry component of the degree: Biblical Exposition I and II, Pastoral Ministry and Biblical Counseling.
The counseling class will be especially well received, Schemm said, noting, “We want to train pastors to minister not just in the pulpit, but personally to their congregations. Pastors should minister the Word not only on Sunday morning and not only from the pulpit.”
Schemm summed up the new A.Div. as “basic curriculum for pastors in training,” noting the program’s overall emphasis on theology (nine credit hours), biblical studies (12 credit hours) and hermeneutics and preaching (nine credit hours).
Also during the meeting, trustees heard an update on Southeastern’s capital campaign, which was launched in April. Despite the economic turbulence of the past few months, Dennis Darville, vice president for institutional advancement, reported that more than $11.6 million has been pledged to the campaign, up from $10.2 million in April. October was an especially fruitful month, he said, with a half-million dollars in pledges received.
Jason Hall is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.