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Southwestern reorganizes, expands undergrad programs

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–By bringing its undergraduate programs under one roof, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hopes to enhance and expand theological education and ministerial training for ministers and laypeople.
As part of a reorganization, Bill Vinson, director of lay theological studies (LTS) and a seminary extension teacher since 1984, has been named director of undergraduate studies and will add to his LTS duties the diploma and advanced diploma studies programs, seminary studies for student wives, the seminary extension program and certification for bivocational ministers.
“Dr. Vinson’s becoming director of undergraduate studies brings possibilities for the enhancement of already strong programs and for new dimensions of theological training,” said Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill. “We want a renewed emphasis to our diploma and advanced diploma programs and the added dimension of bachelor degrees offered in cooperation between Southwestern and Dallas Baptist University or Southwestern and Criswell College.”
He added that the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary also will be offering a new ministry training program for ministers who have no seminary study.
Scotty Gray, Southwestern vice president for academic administration, said bringing the programs together will give “a new focus to that area.”
Vinson “brings academic credentials, years of experience in teaching at Southwestern and needed skills and understanding,” Gray said.
“In my new responsibilities, I want to be student-centered rather than program-centered,” Vinson said. “One of the things I really want to accomplish is to help students achieve what God is calling them to do.”
LTS has three levels of study based on an individual’s needs. The certificate of master’s studies for laypersons, aimed at people with bachelor’s degrees, covers the basic theological disciplines. Thirty hours are required to earn the certificate, and the credit can be applied toward a master of arts degree in lay ministry, which was recently approved by the Association of Theological Schools.
Lay theological studies offers seminary extension courses for those who do not have a college degree. These classes can be applied to a certificate of lay studies. LTS also offers continuing education for people who want to continue their education but do not want to work toward a degree or certificate.
Unlike LTS, the diploma program offers an undergraduate program for students 25 years old or older entering the ministry after having served in a secular vocation. Agreements recently reached with Dallas Baptist University and Criswell College in Dallas will allow Southwestern students to pursue bachelor’s degrees at those institutions.
Seminary studies for student wives includes a personal development course and five academic courses, all leading to a certificate of education and ministry.
“We want to graduate ministry teams,” Vinson said, “to have the student and spouse both equipped for ministry so that they can work as a team.”
Vinson also will be responsible for the certification for bivocational ministers program, which certifies a student in a course to assist in a secular field and provides other courses to aid in ministry.

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  • Cory J. Hailey