ALPHARETTA — Truett-McConnell College President Emir Caner announced today that classes toward the school’s new Master of Arts in Theology degree will soon be available through First Baptist Church in Alpharetta.
“This is a special time for Truett-McConnell,” stated Caner. “[The college] never had a Master’s degree before our pioneer class last fall with 18 students. We never thought we’d so quickly need another place for classes but here we are at First Alpharetta.”
The coursework for the degree, he reminded the crowd, was largely laid out by those who would be participating. In meeting with trustees – split in number between pastors and laypeople – he had asked them to help build the requirements through their own experiences. In other words, what they liked about their own theology classes in seminary, but also what they missed.
“We wanted a degree by pastors for pastors, by Georgia Baptists for Georgia Baptists,” he explained.
Classes at First Alpharetta will begin in conjunction with Truett’s fall semester in mid-August. Three Monday classes – Baptist History, Contemporary Apologetics, and a Cross-Cultural Ministries Practicum – will be offered from noon to 8:30 p.m. A course on Evangelism, Discipleship, and Church Planting will be Tuesday evenings. Dr. Jason Graffagnino, who has been at Truett for five years, serves as chair for the Christian Studies and Missions Division.
We never thought we’d so quickly need another place for classes but here we are at First Alpharetta.
“We’ve created it where the same professors you get on the main campus, you’ll get on this campus. It’s vitaly important to me that we blend the theological with the practical,” Caner said.
He went on to thank First Alpharetta Pastor Thomas Hammond for his role in the process. “The church has been so kind and because of the hard work of Dr.Hammond and others [we can] make this what we want it to be,” he pointed out.
For Georgia Baptist ministers, tuition is reduced by $60 per credit hour due to a GBC scholarship. Members of First Alpharetta can enroll for $325 per class for degree-seekers, with that number going to $525 per class for non-members of the church. Those who want to sit in on the discussions and presentations by the professor can do so at $50 per class for First Baptist members and $100 per class for non-members. At the luncheon, associational missionaries and pastors in attendance were given scholarships for a free year of tuition either to be used for their own education or to be passed on to someone interested in pursuing the degree.
“With 1.4 million Georgia Baptists, our heart is to be … training up pastors, doing it not only with the right theology, but with the right practice. …If all they’re trained to do is preach, they’ll be great preachers, but not great pastors,” Caner stated.