New Orleans Seminary's Church Training Institute holds inaugural commencement


DULUTH, Ga. — Cross Pointe Church in Duluth was the site of the first commencement for Georgia’s New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Church Training Institute. The ceremony was complete with all the dignity one might expect at such an auspicious event.

The graduates were dressed appropriately in their caps and gowns and marched into the church’s Theater Room to Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance. The Institute’s administration and facility were attired in their robes, colorful hoods and their square academic caps or tams. Dr. Robert Wilson, an associate professor of Christian Ministry with NOBTS and the seminary’s Certificate Center Director, presided over the graduation exercises held on May 16 with poise and dignity.

After singing the hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus”, Dr. Wilson introduced Rev. Tim Millwood, Associational Missionary of the Rehoboth Association and Adjunct Professor of NOBTS, to offer the prayer of invocation.

Dr. Wilson then introduced the one who gave the charge to the graduates, Dr. Chet Harvey, who has a Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, serves as pastor of discipleship at Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, and is the director of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s North Georgia extension center.

Pointing the graduates to the Old Testament prophet Elijah, Dr. Harvey preached on the topic "The Task is Great, But God is Greater.” He introduced his challenge by illustrating that on the television program “To Tell the Truth”, there are three featured individuals with one committed to telling the truth and two instructed to fabricate the truth to try to confuse the panel of people asking the questions in hopes of finding out who the honest individual really is.

Dr. Harvey explained that Elijah, as great as he was, believed the lies of Jezebel in I Kings 19:1-2 when she threatened to have him slain. Jezebel’s evil intimidation compelled Elijah to find refuge under a juniper (broom) tree and put him into a deep depression. He even prayed that he might die. (I Kings 19:4).

The second lie Elijah believed was that he had been left alone, that he was on his own. In I Kings 19:10 he said, “The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

None of that was true. Elijah was not the only one left. There were 7,000 Israelites who had not bowed the knee to Baal (I Kings 19:18). Furthermore, at Mount Horeb Elijah met with the Lord. He was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but Elijah found Him in His still small voice. The message was powerful and practical in every way.

Dr. Harvey challenged the graduates to believe the truth, not the lies that will be hurled at them. He said, “Stay close to home. Stay close to other Christians of like mind and spirit. Stay in the Word of God, and stay in the spirit and attitude of prayer.”

Dr. Bong Soo Choi, director of the Korean Theological Training Institute, offered the prayer of commissioning prior to the conferring of certificates. For the graduates the calling of their names provided a moment of thanksgiving, a sense of accomplishment, and very likely a sigh of relief.

Wilson, known both as a pastor and educator, has used his vast academic knowledge in the process of developing opportunities for guiding urban students in understanding the fundamentals of biblical studies.

Due to his extensive Biblical studies focusing on the Old Testament and New Testament and because of his passion to equip and teach, he has prepared multiple students to teach within their Sunday School and discipleship classes. Over the years, his knowledge and leadership skills led him to develop eleven Certificate Centers in Georgia and Alabama.

These eleven Certificate Centers, scattered all over the two states, were in-person learning hubs. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the in-person Certificate Programs were closed, and this program was moved to an online format.

Today, there are four in-person Church Training Institutes in Georgia, including the one in Duluth. NOBTS also has one in Columbus, East Point and Warner Robins. Wilson explained, “In this brand-new program, we use the same curriculum, but it is not accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). However, the eight courses we teach in the Church Training Institutes can be transferred for credit for those who want to pursue an Associate of Arts degree or Bachelor of Arts degree in Leavell College at NOBTS.”

The Church Training Institute Certificate is an 8-hour certificate consisting of eight one-hour courses. These courses are offered at the various sites. Certificates are awarded in Biblical Ministry, Biblical Teaching, Basic Children’s Ministry, Advanced Children’s Ministry, Christian Education, Church Ministry, Church Planting, Pastoral Ministry, and there is a Ministry Wife Certificate.

Wilson stated, “Our costs are approximately one/third of what other institutions of learning would charge per semester hour; and yet our professors are well equipped to teach the students, because they must have 18 graduate hours in the subject they teach in our Certificate Program.”

For more information about the Certificate Program operated in Georgia through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary contact Dr. Robert E. Wilson at 404-509-7722 or 470-655-0837 or email him at