Though at several points in history the New England area has been the spark plug for revival that spread across the nation, that is no longer the case. Many have referred to New England as the graveyard for churches and pastors. This is especially true in Vermont, which is the least churched state in the nation and has some of hardest gospel soil in New England. However, that soil is starting to loosen up as God brings things to fruition that were only dreams in the past.
One of those dreams is the opening of Northeastern Baptist College in Bennington, Vermont. Mark Ballard, president of the new college, has had this dream for many years. Through a unique set of circumstances God showed that it was time for that dream to be fulfilled. After an exhaustive search of 150 sites across New England, the college leadership selected Bennington, Vermont, as the location for the new college.
“One of the factors that made the Bennington location perfect is that there is already an excellent Christian school in Bennington that had two entire floors of their building available for the college to locate in,” reports Mark Ballard. Bennington’s proximity to the rest of New England and easy access from New York were also a significant factor.
With classes slated to begin August 21, 2012, the administration, faculty and staff have put together a unique blend of rigorous academics, practical mentoring and field application that will enable students to develop the Mind of a Scholar, the Heart of a Shepherd and the Perseverance of a Soldier. Initially the college will offer bachelor’s degrees in Biblical Studies, Music and Education.
Phil Steadman, board member for Grace Christian School and pastor at Capstone Baptist Church said, “The evangelical community in Bennington is excited to have the school located in our region. We believe the college will make a positive impact in our local churches and that the churches can be a blessing to the college.”
The impact of Northeastern Baptist College upon local churches will not have to wait until students begin to graduate, but will be experienced immediately through the college’s practical application requirements. While enrolled each student must put his or her academic studies into practice by participating in the ministry of local churches throughout New England and New York. Those in the church planting program must be involved in a church plant, those in pastoral ministry will be required to assist a seasoned pastor, those in music must serve in the music ministry of a church, etc. Practical experience will also extend beyond the local congregation through the college’s Travel with a Purpose program. This unique practical application requirement will not only have a positive impact on local churches by providing additional workers, but will also help students to gain the Mind of a Scholar, the Heart of a Shepherd and the Perseverance of a Soldier.
God has been moving in Vermont in a special way for the past decade. Though the evangelical church is small, it has grown by nearly 18% since 2000. The one piece that has been missing is deeper theological training. Terry Dorsett, Director of Missions for the Green Mountain Baptist Association says, “We believe that the Northeastern Baptist College will fill the gap and help the evangelical church continue to grow in Vermont.”
To learn more about Northeastern Baptist College you can visit the website at www.nebcvt.org