Historic agreement launches Corban's “School of Ministry”

Thursday, August 12, 2010


With the stroke of a pen, Corban University’s merger with the former Northwest Baptist Seminary is nearly complete.

On Aug. 5, the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the merger of the two Christian schools. This allows Corban University to operate its new School of Ministry in Tacoma, Wash. The agreement between the schools, of common Baptist heritage, will become official in October, after an obligatory six-month waiting period.

“We are confident that the new face of the ministries program at Corban will not only be based upon the rich history of both parent organizations, but will expedite the top-level training of the next generation of church leaders,” stated Corban’s Vice President for Marketing Steve Hunt.

In July, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) approved the University’s request for graduate programs in Washington State. This paved the way to build its suite of degree programs in the Puget Sound area.

Before merger talks began last February, Corban was developing a plan for a graduate program in ministry. A research committee made up of ministry faculty and administrators met for about a year, said Greg Trull, Chairman of the Ministries Department and Dean of Ministry for the School of Ministry.

“One key desire,” he said, “was to extend our mission by providing graduate education to ministers not being reached by current seminaries,” he said “We also desired to expand our reach without clashing with the seminaries we have worked with in the past such as Western Seminary, Golden Gate and Northwest Baptist Seminary. The opportunity to merge with NBS now allows us to build together on the two schools’ strengths rather than compete for the same students.

“We have a lot in common with NBS. … So we have merged with them because we believe the two schools will work as kindred spirits to be more effective in serving the Lord together than we would have separately,” Trull added.

Three degree programs will be available: Master of Arts, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry. These represent the most recognized degrees in ministry training.

In May, Corban’s President Reno Hoff was named acting president of NBS. He said, “The ability ‘to educate Christians who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ,’ is enhanced with locations in the greater Seattle and Salem areas. Academic programs such as the School of Education, MBA, and online degree completion programs will also benefit.”

Hoff projected 100 students in the School of Ministry by fall 2011. He is also enthusiastic about the NBS D.Min., which will become Corban’s first accredited doctoral program.

Hunt said the current 75 NBS students will receive Corban University degrees next spring and will not experience an interruption in their program goals.

 “Corban’s strong undergraduate ministries program will be an ideal feeder program for the School of Ministry, Trull said. “One of the signatures of Corban’s growth has been the success of creative delivery formats.”

Online formats will be available through the School of Ministry, as well as “intensive module formats,” Trull noted. “Some skills, such as preaching and teaching, have to be learned through live coaching and peer feedback. The goal is to provide excellent seminary training that allows a student to remain in their current ministry. Our future may include modules in Seattle, Tacoma, Salem, other Northwest cities and perhaps overseas. We want to take ministry training to the ministry fields.”

Northwest Bible Seminary’s 83-year history is similar to that of Corban’s 75 years. At one time NBS was called the Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary. It reorganized in 1959 to include the Los Angeles Baptist College and moved to Newhall, Calif. In 1974 the college and seminary were separated, with the college remaining on the California campus and the seminary moving to Tacoma, Wash. The seminary was renamed Northwest Baptist Seminary and utilized the facilities of Temple Baptist Church. One year later it acquired its current 7-acre site which was once owned by lumber baron, J. P. Weyerhaeuser.

Corban University’s roots begin in Phoenix, Ariz., where it started as a Bible institute in 1935. The institute was relocated to California in 1946. The college changed its name to Western Baptist Bible College and operated there until moving to Oregon in 1969. In 1955, the College received degree-granting status from the State of California Department of Education. In 1959, it received national accreditation as a Bible college by the American Association of Bible Colleges. In 1968, it was regionally accredited and, after moving to Oregon, was accredited by the NWCCU. Over the years, it became a comprehensive college offering programs in biblical studies, the liberal arts, and professional studies.

In 2005 the name of the college was changed to Corban. The name, a biblical word meaning “a gift dedicated to God,” and motto, “Dedicating Heart and Mind to God,” reflect the mission of the University.

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