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TRUSTEES: NOBTS enhances mentoring opportunities

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved a streamlined mentoring initiative and revised the mentoring track of the master of divinity (M.Div.) program during their spring meeting April 15. The board also approved new master of arts degrees in discipleship and pastoral ministry.

“The strategic focus of NOBTS is to find a way to equip anyone answering the call of God to ministry,” NOBTS President Chuck Kelley said after the meeting. “We are adding the opportunity to earn a degree that involves both coaching from ministry practitioners and guided study from NOBTS professors. It is a way for students to turn most ministry settings into a seminary classroom.”

Establishing viable user-friendly mentoring options has been a top priority for NOBTS trustees for the past 15 years. The board launched the original M.Div. mentoring track in 2000. Three additional mentoring-focused M.Div. options were added over the years.

The new mentoring approach refreshes the M.Div. mentoring track, making it more flexible and better suited for the needs of current students. The plan also calls for the removal of the other mentoring-based M.Div. options, consolidating them into a single M.Div. mentoring track.

Students in the M.Div. mentoring track can earn up to 29 hours of the 83-hour degree while doing real-world ministry in local church or para-church settings. Students can complete the mentoring portion of the degree from any remote location that has an NOBTS-approved mentor and adequate Internet access. Students in most of the seminary’s other M.Div. specializations also can earn at least a portion of their degree in a mentored setting.

Along with the revised mentoring track, NOBTS will launch the Entrust Mentoring Community to foster partnership between the seminary, its students and the mentors. The name, taken from 2 Timothy 2:2, echoes the apostle Paul’s desire to see Timothy entrust skills, knowledge and Gospel ministry opportunities to others in his community.

Partnering churches and para-church organizations will provide weekly mentoring and field supervision to students. NOBTS professors will teach Blackboard-assisted courses to ensure that the academic rigor of courses is preserved. Together, mentors and professors will work to provide a training platform that provides the skills and education needed to effectively lead a church or ministry.

“The mission of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments through the local church and its ministries. Our target as a seminary is healthy churches,” said Bo Rice, assistant professor of evangelism and preaching and associate dean of supervised ministry and mentoring programs at NOBTS. “The Entrust Mentoring Community is designed to keep our mission ever before us and to assist us in reaching our target.

“We desire to include the church and local ministries in the equipping of the called by partnering with mentors and students while delivering the very best in theological study guided by NOBTS faculty,” Rice said. “We believe 2 Timothy 2:2 is best accomplished when we partner together to entrust the Gospel to faithful men and women who will be able to mentor others.”

Potential mentors and prospective mentoring students can apply for the program at the Entrust website, www.nobts.edu/mentoring. The first new mentoring courses will be offered during the summer academic session.

While Entrust is the overarching mentoring approach for most M.Div. specializations, other specialized mentoring programs remain at NOBTS — one in the undergraduate program and one in the graduate worship ministries program. Leavell College will launch an 18-hour mentored church ministry minor in the bachelor of Christian ministry degree this summer. Last fall the division of church music ministries launched an 11-hour mentoring option in the master of arts in worship ministries and M.Div. with specialization in worship ministries programs. Both programs partner students with local church ministries during the mentoring segment of the degree.

The board also approved new 36- to 37-hour master of arts (MA) degrees in discipleship and pastoral ministry. Both degrees are available through residential or non-residential study. As professional master’s degrees, the new MAs do not lead to doctoral work without additional coursework.

The new MA in discipleship was designed by the division of Christian education to prepare students for educational and discipleship ministry leadership in the local church. The degree offers a foundation in biblical exposition and Christian theological heritage and 24 hours of coursework in disciple-making and discipleship.

The MA in pastoral ministry is designed to equip local church pastors and ministerial staff members, offering a foundation in biblical exposition and Christian theological heritage and up to 19 hours of coursework in pastoral ministry.

In other business, NOBTS trustees approved a $23.2 million budget and approved four faculty promotions:

— Angie Bauman, director of student services at North Georgia Hub, was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor of Christian education. Bauman was also granted tenure by the trustees.

— Jeff Griffin, dean of libraries, was promoted from associate professor to professor of Old Testament and Hebrew.

— Ed Steele, was promoted from associate professor to professor of music in Leavell College.

— Kathy Steele, director of clinical training, was promoted from associate professor to professor of psychology and counseling, occupying the James H. & Susan E. Brown Christian Counseling Chair.