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2002 Conversations

Ron McManus: Leadership center launched (December 30, 2001)

Norman Arnesen: History's supreme event (December 23, 2001)

Dr. Everett Bartholf: Help for the holidays (December 16, 2001)

"Auntie" Anne Beiler: God has a plan (December 9, 2001)

Mary Inman: Raising seven sons for Christ (November 25, 2001)

Tony Hall: Feeding the hungry, one person at a time (Novemer 18, 2001)

John Maracle: A growing Native American Fellowship (November 11, 2001)

Al Peterson: Praying for national leaders (October 28, 2001)

Beverly LaHaye: The family is God's gift (October 21, 2001)

Terry Meeuwsen: Putting family first (October 14, 2001)

Dennis Gaylor: Changing the world, one student at a time (September 30, 2001)

Nate Cole: You are not alone (September 16, 2001)

George Cope: Training pastors, missionaries and evangelists (September 9, 2001)

Thomas E. Trask: Breaking down the barriers (August 26, 2001)

John Kilpatrick: The blessings and challenges of revival (August 19, 2001)

Marie Colwill: A passion for evangelism (August 12, 2001)

Lottie Riekehof: The Joy of Signing (July 22, 2001)

John Castellani: Teen Challenge: The Jesus factor (July 15, 2001)

Mike and John Tompkins: Publishing newspapers and proclaiming the Good News (July 8, 2001)

Chuck Girard: Music, marriage and ministry (June 24, 2001)

Stanley Burgess: The value of a godly father (June 17, 2001)

Dennis Franck: Single Adult Ministries Agency (June 10, 2001)

Thomas E. Trask: The work of the Holy Spirit (May 27, 2001)

Stephen Tourville: The changing church in America (May 20, 2001)

Margaret Columbia: Raising 17 children for Christ (May 13, 2001)

Donna Fahrenkopf: Wanted: a life change (April 29, 2001)

Sean Smith: Spiritual attacks on young people (April 22, 2001)

Josh McDowell: Is the Bible true? (April 15, 2001)

Joyce Meyer: Being a practical Christain (April 8, 2001)

Paul Drost: Multiplication (March 18, 2001)

Bill Bright: Fasting for 40 days (March 11, 2001)

Beth Grant: Women in ministry (February 25, 2001)

Alicia Chole: His people and His presence (February 18, 2001)

Cris Carter: Playing on God's team (January 28, 2001)

Randall K. O'Bannon: The value of life (January 21, 2001)

Dennis Gaylor: Secular colleges: a vital mission field (January 14, 2001)

Training pastors, missionaries and evangelists

(September 9, 2001)

George Cope is president of Zion Bible Institute, a historic Bible learning center with deep roots in the 20th-century Pentecostal movement. Zion recently joined the ranks of Assemblies of God colleges and universities. Ken Horn, managing editor, spoke with Cope about Zion’s ministry.

Evangel: Many in the Assemblies of God are unfamiliar with Zion Bible Institute. Would you tell us about the school’s history?

Cope: Zion was founded in 1924 by Christine Gibson, a missionary in South America who came to the United States for health reasons. She was led of the Holy Spirit to the Providence, R.I., area. She envisioned a school to train pastors, missionaries and evangelists who would reach America and the world. Zion started as a very small school, but this past semester we had 457 students, including 85 international students from 35 countries.

Evangel: What led to Zion’s recent affiliation with the Assemblies?

Cope: Zion was independent until two years ago, though 85-90 percent of our graduates came into the Assemblies of God. In 1985, Dr. Benjamin Crandall, an Assemblies of God minister and Zion graduate, became Zion’s fourth president. He took a week each summer to fast and pray for direction for the next year. In 1997, after extended prayer, Dr. Crandall recommended to the board of trustees that Zion should come into a fellowship and recommended that it be the Assemblies of God. They gave the school completely to the Assemblies of God in 1998. We have a great relationship with Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania. We are sister schools and we are in a wonderful working relationship.

Evangel: What brought you to Zion Bible Institute?

Cope: My grandfather and father were led to the Lord by a Zion graduate in 1941. I’ve been a pastor for 26 years. About three years ago my wife and I sensed God was leading us to further education. I wanted to teach in overseas Bible schools. Little did I know that a year and a half later I would be selected as Zion’s fifth president. The miracle is that I was once a dyslexic student. I failed the first six grades of school. My teachers recommended I be placed in a school for the mentally retarded. I have become a living witness that God never calls believers to a task that He doesn’t equip them for. [A future issue of the Evangel will include President Cope’s testimony.]

Evangel: To what do you attribute Zion’s spiritual atmosphere?

Cope: We talk of Zion as a family. Our chapels are an hour and fifteen minutes each day, and students enjoy participating in extended praise and worship as well as the preaching of the Word. We always give an open invitation to come to the altar. There is an ongoing expression of the gifts of the Spirit. We pray for the sick. We have Communion. Our students understand that we do one thing here: We train pastors, missionaries and evangelists.

Evangel: Describe some of your student outreaches.

Cope: Ministry involvement is required. Every weekend students must be in at least two church services teaching Sunday school, working with youth groups, and participating in street ministry, prison ministry, and other outreaches. We partner with 49 local churches that involve students personally.

Evangel: Where have Zion graduates gone?

Cope: Graduates serve as missionaries in 77 countries. We have graduates in every state serving in local churches. All 68 graduates this year had a place of ministry. We particularly want to use Zion to help plant churches in the Northeast, the most unreached part of America. We have 60 million people from Boston to Washington, D.C., and Providence is almost in the middle of that.

Evangel: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Cope: Zion is fully accredited with the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges, but we only offer one degree. Zion, 76 years later, is doing what it was founded to do – training and equipping pastors, missionaries and evangelists. We have made a commitment that Zion will never change its focus. I thank the Assemblies of God for welcoming this school. We have received nothing but love and support and the absolute affirmation that we are wanted and needed.

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