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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Marilyn Abplanalp
Sept. 8, 2013

Passing on a Heritage

Marilyn Abplanalp is president of the Alliance for Assemblies of God Higher Education, which exists to acquaint students and their parents with the advantages of attending an Assemblies of God college or university. Currently, 16 AG-endorsed colleges and universities offer a variety of academic programs. Abplanalp spoke recently with Scott Harrup,
Pentecostal Evangel managing editor, about the Alliance’s mission and her own commitment to AG schools and students.

evangel: What supporting role does the Alliance for Assemblies of God Higher Education offer to the Fellowship’s colleges, universities and students?

MARILYN ABPLANALP: As an agency of the Fellowship, we work to develop educational, spiritual and theological standards among our institutions, which endorsed colleges and universities must meet. Partnering with AG Trust, we also want to help financially resource our schools.

We like to put a human face on higher education, primarily through regular conferences for our schools’ faculties, student leaders, and for self-identifying AG seminarians at non-AG institutions. In that last category, while we recognize the value of the seminary community across the country, we want to make students aware of the distinctives offered through Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and to have the opportunity to connect with AG leadership.

And we organize missions trips for students. These are eight-week ministry assignments, often to unreached people groups.

evangel: Your father, C.C. Burnett, held key roles in AG education. How did his life influence your ministry?

ABPLANALP: My dad, in the 1950s, actually served as the secretary of education for the Assemblies of God, which morphed into the Commission for Christian Higher Education, which became the Alliance for AG Higher Education. In some ways, I feel like the Lord has given me the opportunity to continue my father’s legacy in AG higher education. I don’t remember any pep talks from my dad about how important it was, but as I watched him live out his mission to educate future leaders it had a powerful influence.

Dad dreamed of a day when all vocational ministers would hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. He dreamed of a day when more and more of our AG young people would see the importance of a Christian education.

My dad had a sense of both God’s timing and of his own need to use each day to the fullest. After he died, our family found among his papers a written prayer asking God for three years to complete what Dad believed God wanted him to do to develop what became Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Dad died three years to the day after writing that prayer.

evangel: What distinguishes an educational experience at an AG institution?

ABPLANALP: Our mission includes Christ, not just academics. An education at an AG college or university, in addition to academics, offers preparation for life in critical social and spiritual ways that will never be found in secular colleges. An AG college affords students an environment where both peers and faculty are deeply supportive of Christian and Pentecostal faith and values. Spiritual development is encouraged rather than ridiculed.

evangel: You have served in leadership at one of our colleges and now nationally. Talk about where you see our education programs going.

ABPLANALP: Each of our colleges strives to prepare men and women to live and serve in both vocational ministry and in the marketplace. That can be done in many different ways. For instance, we’re seeing more programs in nursing. Some students are going into business to help Third World countries improve through first, finding Jesus, and then establishing businesses that can help sustain them. We’re seeing an uptick in student interest in being part of church planting.

evangel: Any concluding thoughts?

ABPLANALP: I remain optimistic about the future. Our schools continue to impact our Fellowship in a very positive way; our graduates are making their mark on the Assemblies of God, but even more importantly, on our world.




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