NEW ORLEANS—New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) finalized a new partnership with an anonymous donor to provide free theological education for small church and bi-vocational pastors and staff members of Louisiana Southern Baptist churches.
With an initial gift of $1.5 million from the donor, the seminary has established the Caskey Center for Church Excellence to facilitate the scholarship process. The NOBTS Board of Trustees approved the center’s creation on April 16, during their spring meeting.
“We are grateful for the vision God has given this donor,” said NOBTS President Chuck Kelley. “We are a seminary in a city and state in which the overwhelming majority of churches are small churches. We want all Louisiana churches to have access to trained leadership and for all of those God calls to have an opportunity to get quality theological education. Launching the Caskey Center is a huge step in that direction.”
“This is a game changer,” Kelley continued. “This is the most comprehensive scholarship program ever offered by NOBTS, and it is available to those serving the largest number of our Louisiana churches.”
The initial gift will provide up to $6,000 per year for up to 100 Louisiana students – the equivalent of a full scholarship for these students. Recipients can apply the scholarship to certificate, associate, undergraduate or master’s degree study at NOBTS and study in any of the seminary’s delivery systems including the main campus, Louisiana extension centers, workshops, conference-based courses or online programs. This new scholarship will almost double the amount of student scholarship dollars available from NOBTS each year.
To qualify for the program, students must be serving as a paid or bi-vocational pastor or staff member in a small church with an average worship attendance of less than 250 people. Bi-vocational is defined as paid employment from a church and from a secular or parachurch employer. Particular preference is given to those serving as lead or senior pastor – full-time or bi-vocational.
This scholarship program targets the vast majority of Louisiana Baptist churches. Current research indicates that 92 percent of Louisiana SBC churches have an average attendance of less than 250. Seventy percent of LBC churches have 100 or less in attendance.
The Caskey Center will focus on sharpening student skills in biblical exposition and personal evangelism. An evangelism practicum will be included each semester a student is in the program. Students entering the program during the first year will receive a Logos Bible Software package (Silver) and Logos software training to help promote faithful biblical exposition.
In addition to the small church staff requirement, recipients will be required to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The Danvers Statement is available on the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website (www.cbmw.org).
NOBTS expects to name a director of the Caskey Center in the near future. Until that time, inquiries about applying for the scholarship can be made to the NOBTS Office of Financial Aid.
Persons interested in making a similar program available to bi-vocational and small church pastors in other states may contact Randy Driggers in the NOBTS Office of Institutional Advancement by phone at (504) 282-4455, ext. 8002, or by email at email@example.com.