By Gary Hardin
A morning devotional time in summer 2012 opened Zach Richards’ eyes to a ministry need — the equipping of those called to ministry. God took his burden and gave him a vision for a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) extension center in his area.
Thanks to his pursuit of that vision, Richards, pastor of Union Grove Baptist Church, Crossville, saw a certificate extension center begin offering classes in his community in January. And soon he may see the expansion of that center to include undergraduate and graduate degree programs. A group of 60 area pastors, ministry staff and directors of missions gathered July 18 at First Baptist Church, Rainsville, to talk about the possibility.
Currently the northeast Alabama extension center offers two fully accredited certificate programs. The first is an undergrad certificate, ideal for those who might not have attended college but who want to study the Bible in a deeper way, said Richards, who serves as director of the extension center. This certificate program also is for those who would like to begin work on a bachelor’s degree. Up to 18 credit hours earned in the certificate program can transfer into a bachelor’s degree through Leavell College, the undergraduate school of NOBTS. The second program is a graduate certificate. Up to 18 credit hours of classes taken in the graduate certificate program transfer directly into a master’s degree.
If sufficient interest is expressed, NOBTS will add two more programs to the center — an undergraduate degree program through Leavell College and a graduate degree program through NOBTS.
“Many pastors can’t pack up and move to New Orleans to attend seminary, but they can come to Rainsville, study and then go home to their families,” Richards said.
For the Fall semester, three new classes will be offered at the extension center. For more information about the classes offered at the northeast Alabama extension center, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission of The Alabama Baptist.
Dr. Rick Lance (right), ALSBOM Executive Director, shares about the new Rainsville Extension with director Zach Richards (left). [Photo Courtesy of The Alabama Baptist]