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Union partners with NAMB, IMB to offer online MCS program

JACKSON, Tenn.June 19, 2012 – Union University will launch an online Master of Christian Studies degree program this fall, in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board and International Mission Board, to train prospective church planters and missionaries.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to participate in frontline Great Commission Resurgence efforts to address lostness in our world and serve the churches more strategically,” Union University President David S. Dockery said. “We’re very excited about the opportunities that both mission boards have offered us in this regard.”

Dockery said the pilot program is not an exclusive partnership with NAMB and the IMB, and that “we welcome other partners in this effort.” The program at Union will provide students with biblical and theological training, while the mission boards will then provide specialized ministry training after the program is completed.

The 33-hour degree program is designed with an evangelism and missions focus in every class, according to Gregory A. Thornbury, dean of the School of Theology and Missions at Union. All classes will be available online.

“It is designed to reach under-serviced servants of the church on the field who are in church planting or prospective missional situations where they cannot pick up and do residency at a conventional seminary for their theological education,” Thornbury said. “This gives them the essential building blocks that they can do while they’re in their context of ministry.”

NAMB President Kevin Ezell said one of the biggest challenges bivocational pastors and church planters face is finding the time to do everything they need to each day.

“So we wanted to offer a pilot master's program that minimized the number of hours needed and maximized flexibility in how and when a pastor completed it,” Ezell said. “I believe a program like this will offer many of our bivocational pastors a chance to advance their education while they continue to balance family, church and work.”

Chuck Lawless, vice president for global theological advance at the IMB, said his agency seeks to send out men and women grounded in the Bible, and that the IMB is grateful to have Union as one of its partners.

“A dying world awaits a generation of young people willing to sacrifice all for the Great Commission,” Lawless said.

For more information about the online MCS program, contact Hayward Armstrong at harmstrong@uu.edu.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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