The Promise and Significance of AGTS Today
The following is a letter from Dr. Carol Taylor, president of Evangel University, with an update on Evangel University and in regards to the restructuring of the leadership hierarchy of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.
As I begin my fifth year of service, I want to provide an update on the consolidation of Evangel University (EU), Central Bible College (CBC), and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS). As a graduate of both Evangel and AGTS and one who took additional Bible classes at CBC while attending AGTS, I am deeply indebted to those who served at these institutions and had such an impact on my life and the lives of tens of thousands of alumni.
The promise of consolidation was to provide enhanced ministerial training and education to serve our Assemblies of God Fellowship and equip church leaders to reach the world with the gospel with increased effectiveness.
The June 2011 Consolidation Proposal established four specific goals to:
- maximize financial and organizational stewardship,
- significantly spur enrollment growth through integrated programming and operational efficiencies,
- enhance and expand ministerial preparation to meet the growing needs of the AG Fellowship, and
- meet 21st century challenges and opportunities in higher education.
By aligning our theological undergraduate and graduate programs within AGTS, today the seminary comprises one-third of all Evangel University students. Our undergraduate ministry majors are now the fourth largest area of study among undergraduate students.
There are 21 undergraduate students who have stated their intention to pursue the 4+1 program and continue their studies at the seminary to complete a master’s degree with one additional year of study at AGTS.
In a move to enhance their overall preparation for service, 20 percent of undergraduate ministry majors are double majors, pursuing both a ministry degree and a second degree. Common second majors include counseling, psychology, intercultural studies, education, nonprofit business and social enterprise, and management.
With respect to our graduate programs, Vice President/Dean of AGTS James Railey has commented, “The graduate programs of AGTS continue to produce men and women who are the best reflection of our mission to shape servant leaders with knowledge, skill and passion to revitalize the Church and evangelize the world in the power of the Holy Spirit. In May, we commissioned another 53 AGTS graduates, many of whom are already serving in places of significant influence and ministry.”
Current AGTS students and alumni who participated in a series of focus groups this year reported that pursuing their theological education at AGTS was life-changing. They told stories of how they enjoyed the depth of academic scholarship infused with the breath of God as the Holy Spirit was invited into their academic pursuits. They reported that as they increased in knowledge, the faculty cultivated spiritual growth and development in them individually. They commented on how effectively professors balance theory with praxis, igniting a lifelong love of learning and service in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In early March, a diverse group of ministry leaders participated in a focus group in response to the AGTS core initiative on envisioning the seminary’s preferred future, especially focused on ministry preparation.
One of the key outcomes of the meeting was a clear reaffirmation that the seminary was founded and continues to exist to serve our Fellowship with graduate level applied scholarship designed to equip ministers, missionaries, and chaplains for effective service as Pentecostal ministry leaders. Where those three elements come together – Serve the Fellowship, Equip with applied scholarship, Live our Pentecostal identity – is AGTS’s “sweet spot.”
A key partner in the mission of AGTS is Dr. Beth Grant, chair of the seminary board of advisors, member of the board of trustees, AGWM leader, Executive Presbyter, and highly regarded missionary.
Following our recent meetings, Dr. Grant stated: “From its inception, AGTS has been uniquely linked with Assemblies of God World Missions to equip Spirit-empowered missionaries. The seminary board of advisors along with Evangel University leadership has reaffirmed this essential strategic partnership. As growing numbers of EU undergrad students prepare for global ministry in community with global missions seminary faculty and students, there is a new sense of synergy, urgency, and vision. We pray that seminary students and undergrad ministry students alike will experience ‘knowledge on fire’ for their shared mission of taking Jesus to the nations.”
Since the first year of implementation of the consolidation in 2013-2014, we have realized a savings of $1.8M in operational expenses at AGTS. This was achieved by the university absorbing many AGTS operational functions and implementing improved processes and systems at the university.
With AGTS part of the overall university fund development efforts, we are also seeing significant benefits. Total giving this past academic year, including AGTS, was $5.0M compared to $2.5M last year – a 99 percent increase – with 353 first-time donors. In addition to these gifts, AGTS received a General Council grant of $1.4M.
We also saw a 25 percent increase in unrestricted giving, including AGTS, over the past three years. This year our unrestricted giving exceeded $1M.
In June, the board of trustees approved a recommendation for some structural changes, with a shift to a vice president/dean of AGTS leadership model. Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, stated, “This provides a strategic opportunity to live more fully into the consolidation and promise of enhanced ministerial education and preparation, with increased stewardship of resources.”
With each step forward, we have embraced the opportunity to continue to design a structure and academic programs that actively engage all of our students and joint faculty in the unique missions of the seminary and the university at large.
The vice president/dean of AGTS reports directly to the university provost/executive vice president on all academic matters of AGTS. The vice president/dean of AGTS will also serve as a university vice president and report to the university president for matters related to church, external, and public relations. The vice president/dean of AGTS will also work with the president on fund development in collaboration with the university advancement office.
The dean is a member of the president’s cabinet and university planning council. AGTS and the vice president /dean receive institutional support from the various operational areas of the university – academic affairs, business and finance, enrollment management, university advancement, and IT. The vice president/dean collaborates with university vice presidents on operational matters. The vice president/dean is the resource person to the seminary board of advisors and is the liaison to the Association of Theological Schools and any other seminary associations.
The board also approved Dr. George O. Wood to serve as chancellor of AGTS reporting to and working directly with the university president. The chancellor of AGTS is an ambassador and champion of the seminary within our Fellowship and with other publics and assists with fund development.
Dr. James Railey has agreed to delay his retirement and continue his service as vice president/dean of AGTS to ensure a smooth transition while a search is undertaken to find the vice president/dean.
The university has now undertaken the search for the new vice president/dean of AGTS and welcomes inquiries and recommendations. Inquiries and recommendations may be directed in confidence to the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President of Evangel University, Dr. Michael McCorcle, firstname.lastname@example.org. For a full position description, please visit www.evangel.edu/job-openings/2017/06/20/vice-presidentdean-agts/.
Each year as we commission a new group of graduates, I am reminded of the global reach of our graduates for the Kingdom. Today over 3,600 Evangel, CBC, and AGTS graduates are Assemblies of God credentialed ministers with over 200 serving as district, national, and international leaders. My response is profound gratitude and prayer that we will continue to live into God’s call and vision for Evangel and AGTS.
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Dr. Carol A. Taylor
President of Evangel University
AGTS Class of 1978
Image by M Blakelylaw