Bible College – A Greater Blessing to the Churches

… Continued from “Accreditation” …

Bible College Graduates 1977

The relationship with the churches of the Assemblies of God of Ceylon has always been special. AGBC students came from the churches, many of whom sponsored their students with sacrifice and every weekend the students would be sent to minister in their churches. But it was clear that there were many more needing training who may not be able to follow the courses at Ja-Ela The Jaffna Extension Bible School was mooted in 1999 and set up in 2001 with Rev Jason Selvarajah as coordinator. The extension school taught the first year of study, and the students who wished to complete their diplomas and graduate had to thereafter do so in Ja-Ela. Extension courses were also taught in the Regions of the Assemblies of God of Ceylon where there was a need for this. In 2010, the Colombo Extension for pastors of the South Western Region was established, and a similar school at Kurunegala for the Central Region. At Ja-Ela, a night Bible School had been inaugurated in 1999 with a view to training lay church leaders. The Bible School also provided special training courses for pastors related to ministry upgrading requirements of the organisation.

The range of academic programmes which at the start was just the Diploma in Theology, has over the years been widened to the Bachelor in Theology (from 1995), and thereafter, in conjunction with SABC, a M.Div., and the Master of Arts in Christian Ministies (in 2011). The equipping of pastors already serving in ministry was given consideration, and two courses of two-year duration in which they give five days each month, were launched in 2007 – the Diploma in Christian Ministry and the Bachelor in Christian Ministry. These two courses together with all others being offered were accredited by the ATA in 2007.

The year 2006 was a landmark year with 52 students graduating from AGBC, the largest number in any one year up to date. This was because the graduation of the previous year had to be postponed due to the relief work as a result of the devastating tsunami of December 2004. The AGBC graduation is a significant event before the whole church, and to give it time for preparation the graduation was shifted from December to March the following year from 2004. Special awards to recognise outstanding students were incorporated in the graduation from 1996 – the Campus Life Award, the Academic Award, and the All-Round Student Award. In 2002 the Women’s Servant Leadership Award for Compassionate Ministries was endowed in honour of Sis Vijaya Gnanamuttu.

Ministry in the Holy Spirit, the Pentecostal distinctive of the Assemblies of God, and developing a heart for Missions are focal points of the training the students receive. Students learn not only in the lecture halls of AGBC, they learn by participating in the active spiritual life programmes and evangelism ourtreaches, they learn by taking responsibility for tasks and chores in day-to-day college life. They learn by interaction with faculty and other students, and when they graduate they continue to be part of AGBC through its Alumni Association.

Dr. Jim Roane

The presence of Dr Jim Roane, the son-in-law of one of the School’s founding fathers, Dr Alfred Cawston, on the 2011 visiting faculty, is an apt reminder of the turning wheel of time, when one generation hands the torch to another. Generations have passed through the hands of dedicated teachers into their respective fields of work, shaped holistically to meet the challenges of ministry in Sri Lanka. AGBC has a vision for the ‘whited harvest’ in Sri Lanka, and forty years on, is busy fulfilling its special role in preparing the labourers whom the Lord of the Harvest has called.

 

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