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Consolidation and Elections

Consolidation set for trio of AG schools

By Rob Cunningham in Phoenix
Oct. 16, 2011

Central Bible College, Evangel University and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary will be consolidated into one combined institution under a plan approved in August by the General Council in its biennial meeting in Phoenix.

There were 1,764 votes cast, with 75 percent favoring the measure and 25 percent opposing it. Only a simple majority was needed for passage of the proposal, which will consolidate all three schools into one institution known as Evangel University.

Before the result was announced, General Superintendent George O. Wood promised to carry out the will of the Council regardless of whether the resolution was approved or rejected.

“We submit matters like this to you knowing that God, through His Holy Spirit, speaks to His people,” Wood said. “We know that it is our responsibility as leaders to lead, but that our decisions are submitted to you and to your response, and your response, to us, is the will of God.”

All three schools are located in Springfield, Mo., and while the idea of consolidation isn’t a new notion, the idea gained traction in October 2010. According to the resolution, the day after leaders prayed in the general superintendent’s office about the idea, an unsolicited gift of $5 million was pledged.

Through a series of task force meetings in subsequent months, the proposal gained momentum, and then received the endorsement of the Executive Presbytery and the boards of directors for CBC, Evangel and AGTS.

Much of the public opposition in recent months centered on the idea of Central Bible College ceasing to exist. Opponents have highlighted CBC’s position in the Fellowship’s history and its role in producing pastors and missionaries since the college’s founding in 1922.

“A single-purpose institution is still relevant and wanted in today’s culture,” said Michael Scott, who served last year as student body president of CBC. He said there remains a segment of people within the AG who want to attend an institution such as CBC where there is a clear purpose and focus on training ministers.

The General Council discussion featured pro-consolidation presentations by Executive Presbyter Bryan Jarrett, who earned his bachelor’s degree at CBC in 1992, and Robert Cooley — a CBC graduate, former administrator at CBC and Evangel, and a past president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Speaking on behalf of the General Presbytery, Jarrett said consolidating the three institutions into one university would strengthen their core purposes. The new Evangel University will help the Fellowship respond to current and future challenges in the areas of training ministers, equipping leaders in the marketplace, handling enrollment and growth, and keeping pace with trends in higher education, Jarrett said.

Jarrett said he understood the emotions many CBC graduates have toward their alma mater.

“For me, the idol of nostalgia is a jealous taskmaster,” he said. “Being in favor of this resolution has not been a whimsical decision or one I’ve come to easily.”

About 740 students are currently enrolled at CBC, but fewer than 480 of them are on-campus students. While having so many off-site students is an innovative approach to education, it doesn’t provide the needed level of finances. CBC also faces the challenge of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.

CBC faces other issues with finances and enrollment, but those issues haven’t arisen because of a lack of effort or passion or giftedness. They reflect the changing face of education, including education of men and women who sense God’s call to full-time vocational ministry.

Many students are choosing nontraditional routes to prepare for ministry. Some opt for local or district schools of ministry, or programs such as Master’s Commission.

Consolidation will end the triplication of expenses and create an institution with an unwavering commitment to its mission, Jarrett said.

Cooley focused on the details of the new university and how the consolidation would work. He said consolidation would safeguard the Fellowship’s values toward educating future generations and would help ensure that the mission of providing that education remains strong.

The new university would feature five schools: arts and sciences, education and behavioral studies, business and professional studies, fine arts, and theology and church ministry.

Approval of Resolution 27 means the consolidation process can now begin. A steering committee will be appointed to monitor the consolidation process; mediate any problematic issues; guide the application process with the Higher Learning Commission, which offers accreditation; and design the framework for the strategic plan.

Under the plan Cooley presented, the actual consolidation process will take nearly a decade to complete. September 2013 is the target for the beginning of classes for the newly consolidated Evangel University. Evaluation and assessment would continue from 2014 to 2020. During that time, leaders would initiate a $50 million campaign to sustain the university into the future as a debt-free institution, with the goal of completing that campaign by 2020.

Speakers opposing the consolidation raised few objections relating to either Evangel or AGTS. Steve Crino from Rhode Island questioned the resolution’s statement anticipating “the consolidated university will attract a greater number of students than presently enrolled in the three schools separately.” Wood said that assertion was based on the experience of other AG institutions.

James Braddy is superintendent of the Northern California-Nevada District, which this year oversaw the closure of Bethany University, the oldest AG-affiliated educational institution, with a history that stretched back to 1919.

Braddy said Bethany struggled financially for many years, and turning it into a college, and later a university, with offerings beyond ministry preparation was not enough to save the institution.

“I’m not concerned that we protect the past, but I am concerned that we know what the future might be,” Braddy said. He expressed disappointment that the proposal essentially relegated the name “Central Bible College” to history and its function to simply a department in the new university.

He also said that Bethany and CBC have suffered from a similar trend: the inability or unwillingness of alumni to financially support their alma maters.

“I hope all of us would understand that Christian higher education is absolutely essential to us as a Fellowship,” Braddy said.

Crino asked why Evangel was chosen as the proposed name for the consolidated university, and Wood said the task force, which consisted of individuals from all three schools, felt that name was the best option when looking at accreditation requirements. Because Evangel is larger and has more accredited programs, Wood said, it emerged as the lead institution for the consolidated university.

J. Don George, speaking in support of the resolution, said fewer students are choosing to attend the national Bible college in Springfield. He also said that the often-repeated idea of CBC being the source of so many ministers is no longer accurate. He said 4 percent of newly credentialed ministers last year were CBC graduates, and slightly more than 30 percent of all newly credentialed ministers were graduates of endorsed AG colleges and universities. Most received their qualifications either through Berean School of the Bible, district schools of ministry, through life experience or through other schools.


In other business, delegates elected Gregory M. Mundis to become the new executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions. He succeeds L. John Bueno, who retired at 72 after a 14-year tenure as executive director.

During five electoral ballots, delegates gave prayerful consideration to four candidates sent to the Council floor by the General Presbytery — Randy Hurst, director of communications for AGWM; Omar Beiler, regional director for Eurasia; Ron Maddux, Northern Asia regional director; and Mundis, director of the Europe Region. Mundis was chosen in the fifth ballot, when he received 1,152 of 1,700 votes cast.

Mundis, 60, quoted Mark 10:45, where Jesus spoke of His purpose in serving others, not being served. “It’s our heart and prayer that we can emulate that example in modeling Jesus Christ,” he said.

“I pray that God’s rich blessing will be upon you, that the Spirit will fill you up to prepare you for the level of responsibility,” General Superintendent George O. Wood said in introducing Mundis.

“I’m so thankful for our missionary family who serve this Fellowship sacrificially around the world and in the United States,” Mundis said. “Under God, I will take those words from Dr. Wood seriously, that the Spirit of God will do more than I can ever do. So we trust Him, and as the Lord permits, we will march forward in this 21st century and see thousands and millions come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

Mundis and his wife, Sandra, served as missionaries to Austria from 1980 to 1997. He worked as the area director for Central Europe for the final seven of those years. Since 1998, he has been regional director for Europe, where nearly 2.6 million people gather each week in Pentecostal churches. Mundis, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, holds degrees from Central Bible College, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.


L. Alton Garrison was re-elected as assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God at the 54th General Council.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve you,” Garrison told pastors and delegates with his wife, Johanna, by his side. “It is a fulfilling ministry, one that I look forward to every day. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not enjoy what you do every day.”

Garrison, 64, was elected assistant general superintendent at the 2007 General Council in Indianapolis. He had served as executive director of U.S. Missions since 2005, after serving four years as superintendent of the Arkansas District. He was pastor of First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Ark., for 15 years. From 1966 to 1985, he served as an evangelist.

Garrison, who was elected to another four-year term on the nominating ballot, received 1,302 of the 1,905 votes cast.

“There’s a fresh wind blowing in the Pentecostal world,” he said. “We believe the revival that will usher in the coming of the Lord is a Pentecostal revival, and it’s worldwide.”

Pastors and delegates re-elected James T. Bradford as general secretary.

“It has been thrilling to travel across this Fellowship and see the strength of our churches and ministers,” Bradford said, with his wife, Sandi, standing by his side.

Bradford, 58, received a 96.3 percent “yes” vote from the General Council. The General Presbytery nominates candidates for general secretary, and all candidates with at least 15 nominating votes are sent to the General Council for consideration. Because Bradford was the only person to receive at least 15 votes in the General Presbytery, his election was on a yes/no vote from the Council floor.

He has been in the post since John Palmer resigned in February 2009. Bradford, who holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering, previously served as pastor of Central Assembly in Springfield, Mo., and Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, Calif.

ROB CUNNINGHAM is a freelance editor/writer and credentialed AG minister from Sacramento, Calif. He has covered General Council business sessions for The Council Today since 2001.

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