Montgomery Baptist Association (MBA) is now certified as a Seminary Extension Center and has established an extension site at First Baptist Church of Rockville (FBCR). Classes begin in spring 2022. The center is open to all, in and out of the MBA.
Dr. Tim Bonner, FBC Rockville associate pastor and extension center director, is coordinating the center. He’s thrilled to start the program. “This is a vision God gave me. Ever since I completed my doctor of ministry degree, I’ve wanted to do classroom teaching,” he said.
Seminary Extension, based in Nashville, Tennesse, was established in 1951 to offer distance education to all Southern Baptists regardless of their educational backgrounds. It is flexible enough to meet the needs of persons with all levels of education, whether they have a high school diploma, GED, or a graduate degree. Bonner said he was surprised when he discovered the program existed and is sure many aren’t aware of the opportunity.
Students may enroll for a single course or pursue a longer course of study in a diploma or certificate program. Those taking individual courses may enroll without providing their high school diploma, GED, or college transcripts, but a transcript is required to enter a diploma or certificate program. The MBA will offer in-person classes, but individuals who need greater flexibility can enroll anytime for any class or course of study as independent study students. Materials will be mailed to students who can complete the course on their own within the prescribed time limit for the course. Zoom will be another available study option.
Seminary Extension offers more than fifty courses. Bonner shared that the diploma programs provide a well-rounded course of study, require the greatest commitment, and offer flexibility. Individuals who complete these programs are well-prepared for service in the local church. Diplomas require a sixteen-course commitment. Seminary Extension offers four diploma programs: Biblical Studies; Educational Ministries; Ministries/Pastoral Education; and Theological Foundation. There are also offers three Certificate programs: Bivocational Ministry; Lay Ministry Training; and Women’s Ministry. Certificates require an eight-course commitment that also allows some flexibility in course selection. No class costs more than $259, including materials, and the cost is less if the student does not purchase a textbook. No diploma program costs more than $3010, and no certificate program costs more than $1722.
Though some colleges and institutions have and continue to accept Semimary Extention course credits toward an undergraduate degree, certificate, and diploma program, the purpose of the Seminary Extension is to provide opportunities for theological education and ministry training to individuals that cannot or will not seek training from traditional institutions. Its mission does not include preparing students for further college study. Students should be aware that the transfer of credit is always the responsibility of the receiving institution. Whether or not credits transfer is solely up to the receiving institution. Any student interested in transferring credit hours should check with the receiving institution directly to determine to what extent, if any, credit hours can be transferred.
Bonner said Seminary Extension courses provide an excellent learning opportunity for all church members, including both full-time and bi-vocational pastors, church staff, ministry leaders, and individuals simply interested in personal spiritual growth for service in the local church.
The first class offered will be “Disciplines of Discipleship.” Students can take this class for credit in any Seminary Extension diploma or certificate program or as a stand-alone course. It is a study of spiritual disciplines valuable to growing Christians with a focus on implementing those disciplines in the Christian life and requires an eight-week, one-night-per-week commitment. The course cost is $156 with the textbook and $136 without materials. The class will meet from 7-9 p.m. every Thursday from Jan. 6 to Feb. 2 at FBCR.
Other classes will be taught regularly throughout the year at this site, and simultaneous courses will be offered as extra instructors are enlisted. Information about Seminary Extension and a course catalog is available on their website.
For more information or to register for Disciplines of Discipleship call Dr. Bonner, at the church office, at 301-825-9231, or email him.
Image – Adobe Images, Prostock-studio