Since 2000, Baptist Bible Seminary at Clarks Summit University has equipped students to serve Christ through a Doctor of Philosophy degree. This degree has trained students from 12 countries and six continents to be Christ focused, Scripture driven and ministry ready as they pursue the world for Christ. Now BBS has signed an articulation agreement in collaboration with Maranatha Bible Seminary and Institute (SIBIMA), Brazil Gospel Fellowship Mission and Grace Bible Church to bring a Doctor of Philosophy program to SIBIMA in Fortaleza, Brazil.
The inception of this partnership began with one of our Ph.D. students Tiago Albuquerque. “Tiago Albuquerque, who is from Brazil, heard that we had begun a Ph.D. program in Siberia, Russia, and he wanted to see how he could get the Ph.D. program to Brazil,” says Dr. Mark McGinniss, assistant seminary dean, professor and editor of the Journal of Ministry & Theology at BBS. “A Ph.D. can provide exactly what the Brazilian church needs,” says Albuquerque, “sound biblical training and the potential to reach the world, especially where there are closed doors.”
Offering a Ph.D. will provide specialized and essential tools needed for writing theological texts and will help meet the demand for training due to the growth of conservative evangelicalism in Brazil. “As Brazil grows and becomes more and more mature, this is a preeminent necessity,” says Albuquerque. Since he approached McGinniss and Dr. Wayne Slusser, seminary dean and professor, with this idea, they have worked alongside Albuquerque to turn this possibility into a reality. “SIBIMA, BBS and other partners see the huge need to train nationals at the highest academic level so they can in turn train their own people for ministry in their local churches,” says McGinniss.
Through SIBIMA, the partnership aims to create a philosophy of ministry that consolidates, disseminates and models a high view of Scripture and a love for the local church. Albuquerque believes this will “form the first generation of Brazilian Ph.D.’s…so that they may become opinionated leaders that have a strong influence on the nations, starting with the eight Portuguese-speaking countries. Through this philosophy, [we will] train new Christian leaders to preach biblically, to think biblically, to lead biblically and to live biblically.”
SIBIMA and BBS bring likeminded goals to the table backed by a mission to see believers from around the world equipped to teach. “This partnership between SIBIMA seminary and BBS will offer students a balance between academic rigor and ministry mindedness,” says Slusser. “It is through a curriculum rooted in Scripture and through relationships gained with faculty who have insight and significant ministry experience, that students will develop their love for Christ and for others, be equipped with an accurate understanding of Scripture, and acquire the skills at the highest academic level necessary for ministry.”
McGinniss and Slusser are collaborating with SIBIMA seminary in Brazil to process the logistics of the agreement. Both BBS faculty and SIBIMA faculty will teach Ph.D. courses. Students will have the opportunity to take one-week summer module courses at the SIBIMA campus in Fortaleza. One-week fall and spring modules at the BBS campus in Clarks Summit and online courses taught by BBS instructors throughout the year will also be available to them. When they have completed their program, SIBIMA students will graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Baptist Bible Seminary.
“Baptist Bible Seminary has always prepared graduates to view the whole world as God’s harvest field,” explains CSU president Dr. Jim Lytle. “Our partnership with SIBIMA, creating another location outside of North America to acquire our respected and powerful Ph.D., is evidence that we are serious about that global vision.”
By Joanna Wyman