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Graduate Program in Christian Leadership Prepares Next Generation of Church Leaders

Posted on Monday, June 01, 2009 [10:15 AM]
Christian Leadership
The first group of LWC's Christian leadership graduate program gather Friday night in front of the John B. Begley Chapel.

COLUMBIA, Ky. - About two dozen people made history Friday night at Lindsey Wilson College.

The individuals were part of the first meeting of the college's new graduate program in Christian leadership. Being part of a graduate program's inaugural class is exciting in itself.

It's even more exciting considering the program is less than a month old. The program was approved in late May by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In less than two weeks, the program registered 15 students for the summer session that began Friday; another six students plan to enroll in the program in the fall.

"The stated goal of The United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education is that we are to develop the next generation of Christian leaders," said Dean of the Chapel Terry Swan, who is the program's director. "And that is what this program is doing - preparing the next generation of Christian leaders for The United Methodist Church and other churches throughout our region."

A major attraction of the new program - which is Lindsey Wilson's third graduate program - is classes are offered on weekends and Monday nights. For students with a bachelor's degree in Christian ministries or a related degree, the graduate program can be completed in 30 hours - "one intensive year," Swan said.

"The program is built on the model that social work and business graduate programs have used - if you already have a substantial amount of training on the undergraduate level, the hours are reduced on the graduate level," Swan said.

Students who enter the program with bachelor's degree in another field will be required to take six hours of introductory classes.

'Logical Next Step'

Swan said creating the new graduate program was "the next logical step for us."

LWC's undergraduate Christian ministries major is almost a decade old, and in the last four years the college built the Sumner Campus Ministry Center and Norma & Glen Hodge Center for Discipleship.

Swan said the Christian leadership graduate program is designed for individuals who want to serve their church but do not want a traditional seminary education.

"This is an ideal program for students in a variety of occupations who want to prepare to lead a church or church organization," he said. "This program might also attract individuals who seek a second career or want to lead a parachurch organization."

Another reason Swan said he started the program is because Lindsey Wilson is located in "an underserved area for theological education."

"You have to go almost two hours in either direction to find a program like this," he said.

Regional Student Body

Ironically, the weekend-Monday format of Lindsey Wilson's Christian leadership graduate program has attracted students from Louisville, Ky., Lexington, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn.

One of those students making a two-hour to Lindsey Wilson is Sydney Smith of Nashville. A 2002 LWC alumna, Smith said the Christian leadership was started at "the perfect time for me."

"I looked at graduate programs at several different colleges, but none of them appealed to me like this one did," she said. "This program will open a lot of doors with all of the Christian organizations in the Nashville area. And a graduate program in leadership itself looks good to prospective employers."

When LWC graduate Ray Moore heard the program had been approved, he decided to relocate from Grayson, Ky., where he had been serving churches, to Columbia. But it took the 2008 LWC graduate almost 16 hours to get back to the A.P. White Campus because he was in Long Island, N.Y., when he heard it had been approved.

"The fact that it's a brand new program and there is a small community of learners will give us a lot of opportunities," Moore said.

Swan also expects the program to become a "fifth year" for some of LWC's 150 Christian ministries students.

"A lot of our undergraduate students have expressed interest in staying on for a fifth year, which will allow them to earn a master's degree while they begin their careers," he said.

Julie Walker of Columbia is one of the undergraduates who stayed on for an extra year. In May, Walker received a bachelor of arts degree in Christian ministries and communication from LWC.

"The ability to get a master's in a year's time when I already have a bachelor's degree was too good for me to pass up," she said.

More...

Listen to Terry Swan talk about the program.

For more information about the program, contact Terry Swan at swant@lindsey.edu or (270) 384-8148.

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