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Jacksonville Site Granted Accreditation

July 17, 2009

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) has granted accreditation for the Master of Divinity degree at the Jacksonville extension site of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. The approval makes the extension site the first seminary in Jacksonville to be fully accredited by ATS.

The ATS, the primary accreditor of theological institutions in North America, had formerly approved Jacksonville’s Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree, and had also given approval for students to take half the classes required for the M.Div. degree. The recent ATS action enables students to complete their entire M.Div. curriculum in Jacksonville, including the Anglican/Episcopal M.Div. track.

This new milestone signals the steady growth experienced by the extension site since its founding in 2006. As part of its bid to gain full ATS accreditation, the school has expanded its library to more than 10,000 volumes, joined a theological library consortium in Orange Park, FL, developed an intensive Mentored Ministry program (integrating classroom learning with practical ministry) and launched a search for residential faculty members.

Commenting on this growth, Assistant to the Dean Kent Gilbert said, “We have gone from a dream to establishing an extension site to gaining accreditation, and this gives students the confidence that we’ll be here to ensure they complete their degrees.”

Additional new programs are coming to Jacksonville soon. In the 2010 spring semester, the school will launch the Partnership Program Scholarship now available at Gordon-Conwell’s South Hamilton, MA and Charlotte campuses. This innovative, IRS-approved program allows students to raise support for their education from a team of donors and awards a substantial scholarship that reduces tuition by more than 50 percent of the base tuition rate. The program also provides valuable biblical stewardship training needed for future ministry.

Among a number of M.Div.-required courses being offered this fall including Hebrew, the school will introduce two new classes: Preaching and New Testament Exegesis.

Gordon-Conwell-Jacksonville will continue to be a Gordon-Conwell extension site operated through the Charlotte campus. Dr. Timothy Laniak is the dean of both campuses. A total of 150 students have traveled from as far away as Panama City and Savannah, GA, to take classes in Jacksonville, and 117 students are currently enrolled. The program is structured around flexible evening, weekend and week-intensive classes.

The school is located at First Presbyterian Church, 118 E. Monroe Street, in Jacksonville. The extension site, Gordon-Conwell’s newest theological education program, was developed at the impetus of a committee of Jacksonville alumni/ae pastors and other church leaders led by Dr. Robert Morris, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

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