Graduate Seminary Planned for Pensacola

Apr 26, 2003 02:50 PM EDT

NEW ORLEANS – In lieu of the requests for a graduate seminary in Pensacola, the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary will pursue the development of a graduate extension center program in the region. Currently, the closest graduate extension center is 130 miles away in Graceville Fla, on the campus of the Baptist College of Florida. The projected extension will include both graduate and associate level classes for the students.

"We already see the need for pushing out the boundaries for theological education in Florida in cooperation with the Florida Baptist Convention and the Baptist College of Florida," said Jimmy Dukes, dean of NOBTS' extension center system. "My desire is to see more and more Florida students take advantage of accessible and accredited theological education.

"As we go through the processes of approval with our accrediting agencies, I will be praying for God's leadership in these areas," Dukes said. "I anticipate some classes being offered at the sites this fall.

Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church, said the church "realizes the importance of equipping ministers for the new millennium. We are excited about our partnership with NOBTS as we open the new seminary extension center in Pensacola. We look forward to seeing what God will do as we partner together to train and equip those God has called into vocational service."

Since 1977, NOBTS has opened its doors to ministers hoping to pursue a theological education while maintaining their position. The seminary hoped to provide formal training to the many ministers who had not received a theological education. NOBTS operates graduate and undergraduate extension centers throughout the Southeast. Graduate centers include the Central Louisiana Center in Pineville; North Louisiana Center in Shreveport; Clinton Center in Clinton, Miss.; Birmingham Center in Birmingham, Ala.; North Georgia Campus in Decatur; South Georgia Center in Albany; Graceville Center in Graceville, Fla.; Orlando Center in Orlando, Fla.; and the Theological Center of the Americas in Miami. Undergraduate centers include Baton Rogue, Lake Charles and Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.; Albany and Decatur, Ga.; and Jacksonville and Miami, Fla.

NOBTS also will begin offering the bachelor of arts in Christian ministry degree at the extension center in Miami. What began as a ministry to Spanish-speaking people in 1977 has developed into an extensive program reaching out to train leadership in Spanish, English, Portuguese and French in that area.

The seminary supports teaching at these extension centers through the use of modern technology, including Compressed Interactive Video (CIV). This technology uses live, interactive video to connect classes in multiple locations, allowing a professor in New Orleans to teach classes in several other cities at the same time. The professor and the students are able to dialogue and interact with each other as though they were in the same room.

Other classes are taught by commuting faculty from the main campus as well as adjunct professors who live near the various centers. Extension centers also offer night and weekend schedules.

By Pauline J.