Christian higher education is facing a constellation of intense pressures – fiscal, cultural, governmental, and philosophical. Why college? Why seminary? What it is for? Is it worth the price tag?
One pressure is student enrollment. Nationally, half of students who start college drop out during or after their first year. Others hang around, often learning little but piling up debt. [Marvin Olasky, “Labor Days,”WORLDmagazine, Aug 31, 2019, p64] Our admissions department is monitoring this cultural phenomenon and laboring diligently to match high caliber students with high caliber coursework, to produce mature Christians.
Winds of challenge are blowing across the country. Judson University cut 34 faculty and staff. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary cut 10% of its full-time faculty. Bethel University closed its San Diego campus. Moody Bible Institute reduced approximately a third of its faculty. Gordon College cut 17 faculty and staff. This summer, Wheaton College closed one of its departments. Indiana Wesleyan cut nine faculty members. Trinity is eliminating five faculty positions. [ much of this paragraph according to Nick Perrin, Trinity President, “A Message from Trinity’s President,” in a letter to alumni.]
As for Bethlehem College & Seminary, what are we delivering to our students while we ask our donors to sacrificially give?
At the recent meeting of the Board of Trustees, at the start of our eleventh year of operation, we reviewed our mission statement and vision statement, aiming to practice truth in advertising, delivering to our 222 students (with 12 students at our low cost additional location in Memphis, and 5 students enrolled in our even lower cost extension site in Cameroon, West Africa) what we tell them we are striving to provide. We noted that we have submitted the final documentation in response to the requirements for accreditation.
The board approved a proposal for enhancing our resident undergraduate degree program by extending the Omnia academic core to three years, offering three bachelor degrees (Theology and Biblical Studies, Theology and Global Studies, and Theology and Letters), and providing an accelerated masters degree in an optional fifth year, in each of the three disciplines.This program aims to form mature Christian adults through rigorous study of the Great Books, through the grid of the Greatest Book, for the sake of the Great Commission.
The board observed that the incoming classes are the most diverse in the history of the school as a result of several initiatives, including the All People’s Scholarship, designed to encourage the enrollment of African-American students and other minority applicants.
The strong track record of Bethlehem College & Seminary in providing a rigorous, God-centered, Bible-saturated academic path while operating in the black, is not a guarantee of the future. To be candid, without substantial financial support from sources unknown to the board, the prospects of continuing our track record of operational solvency while helping our students avoid debt they will be paying until they are senior citizens (no exaggeration) is open to question. Some of our largest donors are nearing the end of their commitment and ability to give. This is certainly zero problem for God, who has provided for us all along the way. We need new contributors and new contributions. Have you asked God about this? Do you know of someone whose God-centered passion would find it fulfilling to channel their God-given resources to Bethlehem College and Seminary? Could you refer someone to us? Contact Rick Segal at [email protected] or 612.455.3420 Ext. 1122.
- Praise the Lord for his faithfulness to us these last ten years.
- Pray that the Lord would keep us grounded in the Word and Christ-centered.
- Pray that God would bring students to the new undergraduate programs and send them back out for the sake of the Great Commission.
- Pray that the Lord would continue to bring in financing to fund these educations in serious joy.