It’s not unusual for a student to complete grade school, undergraduate and graduate education in one state, but what if a student could do that with a Christian education?
The Kentucky Baptist Convention allocates just over one-fifth of its Cooperative Program dollars to Christian education in their 2017-2018 budget. The KBC budgeted $10,230,000 for KBC causes of the Cooperative Program. $2,003,293 of that is for Christian education. That money goes to Oneida Baptist Institute, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and University of the Cumberlands.
Because of this CP money, these schools can offer a unique partnership to students. OBI graduates can attend Clear Creek for $100 per credit hour and Clear Creek graduates can earn a Master of Arts in Christian Services from UC for $299 a class.
The partnership between Oneida Baptist Institute and Clear Creek started in 2015. OBI offers boarding school or day school options to its attendees and hosts several international students, often the children of missionary parents. OBI students called to ministry have the opportunity to attend Clear Creek for just $100 per credit hour as opposed to $270 per credit hour.
Samuel and Gabriella Fonseca are OBI graduates attending Clear Creek and they both receive this scholarship.
Samuel Fonseca is originally from Brazil and his parents are missionaries in Senegal. OBI was his best choice for affordable school in a language he knew. Now he’s in his third year at Clear Creek.
Because he’s an international student, Samuel Fonseca’s tuition must be paid up front, which means the tuition rate of $100 per credit hour is crucial to keeping school affordable for him without going into debt.
His wife, Gabriella Fonseca, also graduated from OBI and now attends Clear Creek. She will graduate in May of 2018 with an associate’s degree.
“When I went to OBI I immediately felt like it was a place where I could grow. It was a place that gave you hope for a better future,” said Gabriella Fonseca. “They [the staff] were very encouraging and they would mentor you in your Christian walk. I needed a lot of guidance and I got that there.”
President of OBI, Dr. Larry Gritton, has a deep appreciation of the Cooperative Program.
While Matt Black did not graduate from OBI, his time there was important to his growth as a Christian.
“While I was in Middle School I was a student at Oneida Baptist Institute” said Black. “God used OBI to minister to me during some of the most difficult times in my life.”
Black graduated from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in 2012 and currently pastors a church in Wilmington, Ohio. Now he is finishing the MACS program online from UC.
“As I approach my graduation from the University of the Cumberlands,” said Black, “I cannot express the gratitude that I have for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and churches and the Cooperative Program.”
The partnership between Clear Creek and UC began in 2012 and has seen 15 graduates and nine currently enrolled. UC verifies that a student graduated from Clear Creek and is enrolled in the MACS program. The student is then awarded the James H. Taylor II scholarship, taking the tuition down nearly one-third from $872 per class to $299 per class.
Because the MACS degree is online it allows those who are active in ministry to stay active where they are while also learning how to be more effective. The scholarship for Clear Creek graduates also offers the opportunity of a master’s degree to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
Jeff Howard Jr., a 2007 graduate of Clear Creek, graduated from UC with the MACS degree in 2012. He is pastor of the Greenview campus of Florence Baptist Church in Florence, Ky. While Howard did not receive the reduced rate of tuition as it was not in effect, he still appreciated the affordability of the degree and what he has learned at both schools.
“It was the spiritual environment and the dedication of the faculty and staff that prepared me for ministry,” said Howard of Clear Creek. “There is no way I’d be as affective in ministry without CCBBC. That school prepared my heart for ministry and then my head. Too many schools get that backwards.”
Howard’s fondness for both institutions is evident.
“I would recommend the two schools to anyone that is pursuing a top notch education to practically prepare them for the next step,” said Howard. “The schools were led by faculty and staff that honored excellence and they went out of their way to make sure I had what I needed to succeed.”
Steven Mayle graduated from Clear Creek in 1999 and attended UC in 2013 for the MACS degree. Mayle now preaches at First Baptist Church of Artemus in Artemus, Ky. He enjoyed how focused the professors at UC were on practical ministry training.
“It was open-ended essay, ‘how do you apply what the author said in the context of ministry?’’ said Mayle. “They were on the spot for any questions and making sure what I was doing was related to the pastorate. I would recommend it highly.”
Mayle was also impressed by the UC faculty and staff’s effort to include the online students.
“They make you feel as much a part of student life as if you're there as much as possible,” said Mayle. “They make distance education very applicable to ministry.”
The opportunities for Christian education through Cooperative Program dollars are directly supporting ministry in the state as 12 of the 26 Clear Creek graduates who have graduated from UC or are currently enrolled are active in ministry at Southern Baptist churches.