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December 2021- February 2022

We Need Each Other


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World Class Master's

By Jesse Owens


While conversing with a fellow student in the hallway at a Southern Baptist seminary, we began to discuss our various theological interests, but the conversation eventually turned to what church my wife and I attended in the Nashville area. Thinking he expected we attended a Southern Baptist church, maybe one that he’d be familiar with, I told him we attended a Free Will Baptist church.
He replied—and I don’t think he meant anything by it: “So, why are you here?”

What he likely meant was Why would a Free Will Baptist Arminian attend a Southern Baptist school known for its Calvinism? While I think the question was a bit misguided in the first place, the answer was simple. Though I had no interest in becoming a Calvinist, I wanted to prepare for a life of ministry, and at that time, Free Will Baptists did not offer an accredited master’s program
in theology and ministry. Thankfully, that has changed.

Since 2016, Welch College has offered a world-class Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry. The aim of this program is to further prepare Free Will Baptists to serve their churches and engage their communities with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We live in an increasingly complex and confused society that struggles to make sense of issues we once took for granted, issues such as sexuality and gender. At Welch College, we believe the answer for our society and the need of the world is still the Good News. But we also recognize the need to think deeply and prepare rigorously for ministry and cultural engagement in the twenty-first century.

Previously, the Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry at Welch College permitted students to study from home, traveling to the Welch campus in Gallatin for one-week intensives while completing most of the coursework online.

However, this year, we have taken the program entirely online. Rather than delivering the lectures during a one-week intensive on campus, lectures occur weekly via interactive video. We believe this achieves the same goal: allowing students to remain in their work or ministry context while simultaneously furthering their education. The advantage of the new format is that students interact more regularly with professors and fellow students. This additional interaction allows them to ask more questions along the way, which will only strengthen the learning experience.

It would be difficult to overestimate the significance of an accredited Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry for Free Will Baptists. Our program is steeped in Free Will Baptist history and theology, rooted in the Reformed Arminian tradition, and geared towards equipping men and women to answer life’s biggest questions with the truths of Scripture.

We have already seen incredible fruit from this program in the lives and ministries of our recent graduates. Within the last few months, enrollment has more than doubled. We firmly believe our best days are ahead as we prepare students to face challenging times with the hope of Jesus Christ.

About the Author: Jesse F. Owens, his wife Tiffany, and their sons Gavin and Carter live in Gallatin, Tennessee, where Jesse serves as pastor of Immanuel Church and adjunct faculty member at Welch College. Jesse holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read more from Jesse:


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists