Bluefield College recently signed an articulation agreement with The John Leland Center for Theological Studies that will give students who have an interest in Christian ministry greater access to the theological training they’ll need to fulfill their calling.
A Christ-centered liberal arts college in southwest Virginia and in covenant with the Baptist General Association of Virginia, Bluefield College offers 20 undergraduate degrees accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Among its offerings: Christian studies, a baccalaureate degree program designed to educate and train those called to serve in Christian ministry. Making that particular program available to even more students is one of the reasons why BC leaders say they signed the agreement with the Leland Center.
“The Leland partnership is vital to Bluefield College’s commitment to provide quality theological education throughout the state of Virginia and particularly in the Appalachian region of southwest Virginia,” said BC’s Dr. Robert Shippey, vice president for academic affairs. “Those who are called into some form of professional ministry need to benefit from quality theological education.”
Located in Falls Church, Virginia, and rooted in the Baptist tradition, the Leland Center is also deeply committed to providing quality, affordable, accessible theological education to those wishing to pursue preparation for Christian ministry. While its central mission is to offer graduate degrees in theology, the Center also offers an undergraduate Diploma Program, which consists of 48 baccalaureate credit hours in Biblical and practical ministry studies.
“At Leland, we recognize the advisability and benefits of a well-rounded education,” said Dr. Mark J. Olson, president of the seminary, “and we encourage our Diploma students to continue studies toward a bachelor’s degree.”
But, because the Center’s accrediting body only sanctions graduate courses and to offer baccalaureate degrees through the Diploma Program would require Leland to commit resources to areas not central to it’s mission, the partnership with Bluefield College was necessary. In fact, the pact will allow students to begin their academic preparation with Leland, complete their bachelor’s degree at BC, and then continue with graduate study back at the seminary.
“The Kingdom of Christ deserves informed spiritual leaders,” said Dr. Shippey, “equipped with critical and creative thinking skills to provide relevant and vibrant ministry service in the 21st century. This partnership helps achieve that goal.”
Designed to give Leland Diploma Program graduates greater access to a bachelor of arts degree in Christian studies, the articulation agreement stipulates that baccalaureate degree credits earned by Diploma students at the Leland Center are to be applied toward a bachelor’s degree in BC’s traditional Christian studies program or toward a bachelor’s degree in management and leadership offered through Bluefield’s inSPIRE degree completion program.
And, vice versa, the Leland Center will accept academic credits earned by students in BC’s Christian studies program who wish to enroll in the Diploma Program at Leland. In addition, students who graduate from Bluefield with a baccalaureate degree, regardless of discipline, will be accepted to any of Leland’s graduate programs.
“What Leland or Bluefield might not achieve alone,” Dr. Shippey added, “we have determined to achieve together for the benefit of all Virginia Baptists.”