We now have a new Bethlehem College & Seminary extension site in Rochester! At their February meeting, the Board of Trustees approved our newest extension site. Rochester now joins Memphis, Cameroon, and Hawaii. We are delighted that God has given us the opportunity to train leaders in Rochester, and we hope some of our new students will include staff from the Mayo Clinic.
But this raises the question of why? Why have any extension sites at all? The short answer is our value of spreading! We are committed to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ—in the context of education. To accomplish this, our educational model includes Reformed theology, Christian Hedonism, Christ in all the Scriptures, and a focus on biblical exegesis. We teach this model in the context of small cohorts, focused on discipleship. So why not just bring them to Minneapolis and grow this school? There are two reasons. First, growing a larger school in Minneapolis, in order to “spread,” is contrary to our values of small cohorts and personal discipleship. And while some people might relocate for an evening degree (some have done so, moving to Minneapolis!), most people need an evening program close to their jobs and home, so they can attend one night a week while continuing their job. So extension sites are an effective way for us to spread while focusing on discipleship.
So how do we identify a good location to create an extension site? First, we wait for an invitation. Rather than looking for strategic sites, we wait for people who want what we offer to seek us out. Second, we want an extension site to have a core team of leaders who have a history with Bethlehem (e.g., alumni, those impacted by Desiring God, or members of Treasuring Christ Together churches). Third, while we have no desire to make money by establishing these campuses, the campuses must be financially self-sustaining. Extension campus students pay the same tuition as students in Minneapolis, and we provide the professors and campus coordinator. That means there must be sufficient reason to expect that there are not only students for the first year, but a steady stream of students at any new site. Fourth, we expect those who extend the invitation to also find a church—one eager to promote the distinct Reformed, Christian Hedonistic education we offer—that will provide classrooms at no cost, just as Bethlehem Baptist Church does for the Minneapolis main campus. Bethlehem Baptist Church has been so generous to the school, and we want their graciousness to serve as an example to others to do the same. Of course, there must also be a number of qualified professors who have caught our vision; a sufficient academic degree is not enough. We are spreading a passion for the glory of God in Christ, and our adjunct professors at these sites will be key to our mission of spreading.
Indeed, we found just these distinctives in Rochester. The invitation came from three of our seminary graduates who are pastoring churches in or near Rochester. Together they are eager for church-based education that will train men and women in their own churches and even reach into the Mayo Clinic, offering Bethlehem’s distinctive training to people from all over the world.
Dr. Richard A. Shenk
Director of Non-Traditional Programs
- Thank God for this new opportunity to spread a passion for God’s glory via the tool of education in Rochester.
- Ask God to help us discover the qualified adjunct professors he has appointed to help us in his mission.
- Pray that God will provide students for both of the evening programs, the undergraduate degree-completion program in theology (BTh) and the graduate program in theology and exegesis (MA). The MA program was significantly reduced this year, and we are asking God for at least 12 new students for Fall 2021.
- Pray also for the extension sites in Memphis, Cameroon, and Hawaii where many people from Bethlehem Baptist Church and Bethlehem College & Seminary are already serving!