Emphasis on the Ministry

The growth of the ministerial training program.

M. K. Eckenroth, Chairman, Department of Religion, Columbia Union College

SOME unknown author penned these words that have been challenging and arresting since I first read them:

The world is waiting for you, young man,

If your purpose is strong and true,

If out of the treasures of heart and mind

You can bring things old and new.

 

If you know the truth that can set men free,

And with strength can bring it to view, The world is waiting for you, young man,

The world is waiting for you.

The ministerial training program of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has under­gone tremendous strides of expansion and adjustment in recent years. Even though at times these strides may have seemed slow and tortuous they were far reaching and have been of great consequence to the rem­nant church.

The extension of the training program for our theological students from a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree to a seven-year program, or to state it in another way, the equivalent of six semesters beyond the Bachelor of Arts degree, has indeed ex­tended the educational process for the min­istry. The Bachelor of Divinity degree now is a basic requirement and an integral part of the denominational internship plan. In order to carry out this program to its best advantage the collegiate pre theological training program has likewise undergone extensive changes and adjustments. These adjustments are still in process. In many of our colleges the departments of religion are constantly endeavoring to enrich their curriculums and strengthen the base upon which the student can build adequately his graduate program.

General Conference Working Policy

The General Conference Working Policy provides a plan for a screening committee to bring forth certain recommendations re­garding pretheological students upon the completion of their sophomore year at col­lege level. The Working Policy establishes norms and the basis upon which the young men shall be judged acceptable as contin­uing candidates for the ministry. Among these requirements and considerations are conduct, spirituality, and evidence of the call to the ministry. All of these are very personal and deeply involve the character qualities basic to the later years of a suc­cessful ministry.

Significant Milestone

The religion department of Columbia Union College believes that the successful passing of this investigation is a significant milestone in the ministerial development program. Accordingly, special recognition is afforded the young men who successfully complete this first and important investiga­tion regarding their adaptability and prom­ise for the ministry. The administrative leadership and faculty of Columbia Union College have given their support to a pro­gram that was inaugurated and introduced to the college family for the first time dur­ing the second trimester of the 1966 school year.

A Theological Consecration Service

A public theological consecration service was conducted during the regular chapel period in the Sligo church. Preceding this public dedication the young men were no­tified that they had successfully passed the screening committee's investigation. They were invited to a special meeting on Friday evening in the religion department chapel for a special season of prayer and prepara­tion. This was meaningful in itself and proved to be a tremendous blessing to both faculty and students. After this personal preparation the young men were accorded a place of honor before the platform for this special consecration day.

One of the impressive features of the con­secration commitment was the reading of the ministerial challenge to these young men. The challenge reads as follows:

Inasmuch as you have indicated your belief that the Lord has called you to prepare for the sacred work of the gospel ministry, and seeing that Co­lumbia Union College has recognized evidences of your receiving such a call of God, I entreat you to pursue vigorously the work of preparation for the ministry that you have begun.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God" (K.J.V.)—'a labourer who need not be ashamed, driving a straight furrow, in your proclamation of the truth" (2 Tim. 2:15, N.E.B.).*

The Scriptures charge the minister of God, irre­spective of his station: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. . . . Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . . . Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:12-16).

Truly in this age of challenge, the youth, dedi­cated and called by the Master, are charged with the fearful responsibility to give "no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed" (2 Gor. 6:3).

Today by prayer and through this public recogni­tion you are entering into a life of service wholly dedicated to God. You are today taking another step forward in the solemn vow to serve your Master as a minister of the gospel. Years of study are still before you. Yet while you are engaged in the disci­plines of training, your opportunities for witnessing increase daily.

We now entrust into your care this pin, which places on record your acceptance of God's call. In your remaining days at CUC this will be a token of authorization to visit in neighboring churches and preach upon invitation. As a possessor of this pin you are assured of the support of the depart­ment of religion of CUC in seeking for you a spon­sorship and internship in the denominational the­ological training program according to the General Conference Working Policy.

If in the passing of time your life program should change so that you would not complete the pre-theological training program at CUC, then you will return this pin to the department of religion. At the time of your successful completion of the requirements of the major in theology and upon your graduation from CUC this pin becomes yours.

 In behalf of the department of religion and Co­lumbia Union College, I extend to you our warmest congratulations and the assurance of our prayers, and we pledge to assist you in achieving your life dedication so that at last in our respective minis­tries "when the chief Shepherd shall appear" we may all receive a "crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:4).

Special Theological Pin

A special pin was designed by the reli­gion staff of the college for this occasion and for this use. It may be worn either as a tie-tack or it may be used as a lapel pin. The theological students of Columbia Un­ion College who have achieved this distinc­tion wear this pin with pride and go out to the surrounding churches in the Greater Washington area to preach each weekend as they are invited by the pastors.

Inasmuch as this was the first of its kind, all of the juniors and seniors in the theol­ogy department received this special pin, which will become traditional at each suc­cessive consecration service. Forty young men participated in this service, which proved to be very solemn. It left a deep im­pression on the entire student body as well as upon the pretheological candidates them­selves.

Our experience with this experiment has shown that a deep impressiveness attends such a service and a new dignity is given to the call of the ministry. We are persuaded that this consecration service has contrib­uted much to the deep spiritual conviction that God must have all there is of us in the accomplishment of His work. "We need greater earnestness in the cause of Christ. The solemn message of truth should be given with an intensity that would impress unbelievers that God is working with our efforts, that the Most High is our living source of strength."—ELLEN G. WHITE, in Signs of the Times, Dec. 9, 1886, p. 737. It is precisely to accomplish this dual purpose of magnifying the call of God in the experi­ence of our own young men and to demon­strate that call to others that this special consecration service was inaugurated on the campus of Columbia Union College. The results have been most encouraging. We are grateful for our young men who prepare for a life of service and devotion to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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M. K. Eckenroth, Chairman, Department of Religion, Columbia Union College

May 1967

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