Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | September 23, 2014

Alumni Reaching The World

Connecting People to Their God-Given Purpose

Randy and Melissa Swearengin have been serving at CrossBridge Church in Marshfield, Missouri, for five years and have seen God work in many ways. CrossBridge began as a church-plant started by retired truck driver Allen Greenfield and his wife, Carol. Luther Rice has played a huge role in equipping many of those who minister at the now 10-year-old church. We praise God for how He has answered many prayers and provided everything necessary to fulfill the church’s mission of connecting people to their God-given purpose.

Randy Swearengin, Senior Pastor of CrossBridge, is a graduate of Luther Rice, having earned his Bachelor of Arts in Religion this past May. Melissa Swearengin, Director of Christian Education at the church, is also a graduate of Luther Rice University (LRU). She has earned multiple degrees from LRU, including a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, Master of Christian Studies, Master of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry this past May. Several other key staff members are Luther Rice students or graduates as well.

CrossBridge has a dynamic local and international missions outreach, including: a women’s ministry that focuses on missions and assists a homeless shelter; a men’s ministry heavily involved in mentoring other men; an active children’s ministry that frequently carries out missions activities appropriate to their grade-level; and a thriving youth ministry that takes mission trips to help refurbish houses for needy families. Josh James is the Youth and Music Minister and a graduate of Luther Rice. He earned his Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling in 2012. James utilizes his counseling education regularly as he often advises youth and works with their families. The church has taken international mission trips to Honduras and financially supports career missionaries overseas.


Luther Rice Students and Alumni from CrossBridge Church, in Marshfield, MO built a girl’s home, worked with the homeless and shared the gospel in Honduras. Those included in the picture are Tristan and Jaimie Crotinger, Randy and Melissa Swearengin, Pashia Rasmussen and Dustin Owens

Another Luther Rice graduate at CrossBridge Church is Associate Pastor Tristan Crotinger, who graduated from LRU in 2013 with his Bachelor of Arts in Religion degree. As a teacher at the church, Tristan has been instrumental in discipleship, as his classes are very detailed. His wife, Jaime, is involved in helping the church’s mission team and counseling. She graduated from LRU with her Bachelor of Arts in Religion and her Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling in 2013.

As a newly married young couple, LRU students John and Pashia Rasmussen have been active in helping area churches in need of supply ministers. They will also be teaching a class this summer at CrossBridge.

One of the most unique ministries at CrossBridge Church is the lay counseling center. The center is celebrating its fourth year and growing bigger throughout our entire area. The center is a fully funded ministry of the church—never charging anyone for services. It is seen as a ministry opportunity for the community and to point people to salvation and God’s Word for their healing. Dr. Ron Cobb, LRU Counseling Degree Program Coordinator, has been instrumental in the Center’s success. He has provided training for the counselors and always offers support and advice when asked. Another LRU student, Rex Childress (currently completing his Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling) is the counseling center’s director. At this time, there are 12 trained lay counselors and more are in training this summer.

Childress was amazed when God allow him to lead one of the area’s largest drug dealers to Christ as a result of the one-on-one counseling through the Bible. The church also had the privilege of counseling those affected by the 2011 Joplin tornado and working with Samaritan’s Purse. The Swearengin’s minister though crisis and premarital counseling, providing healing for marriages and families. They also continue discipling others, walking with people through what Cobb calls “soul care.” God has used this lay counseling center to help fulfill the command shared in 1 Thess. 5:14, to “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.”

Luther Rice is excited about the work that is being done by its graduates at CrossBridge Church. The training gained at Luther Rice through the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree is being used to touch many lives through a few obedient servants in Marshfield, Missouri. The Swearengin’s are quick to give God all the glory for what has been accomplished because it is only possible through God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | September 4, 2014

2014 Graduation Report – The Multiplying Effect

On May 16, Luther Rice Seminary graduates assembled for the 52nd annual commencement ceremony in the main worship center at First Baptist Church Atlanta. There were 299 students in the graduating class of 2014, representing 37 different states and 10 foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Ghana, and China. Many of them traveled to Atlanta to participate in the graduation week festivities. They, along with their families and supporters, deserve sincere congratulations for their accomplishment.

Many of our graduates work in full-time and part-time ministry around the world. They juggle family responsibilities, work and ministry duties, and their studies—no matter if they reside in Atlanta, Alaska, or the Aleutian Islands. They are spreading the good news of God’s love and plan of salvation through Jesus Christ for all mankind. There are over 7,000 graduates of Luther Rice, and the majority of them are in some type of ministry work, either vocationally or as a volunteer. That outreach is being expanded daily as people obey God and reach out to their neighbors.

I experienced an example of this multiplying effect just today. Running into a couple of Luther Rice graduates while at lunch, one of them told me about a mission trip he was taking in a couple of days. He was going to Kosovo (yes, that war-torn country is apparently now safe for American travel) where he would be holding baseball training camps for students. He told me there were already 350 students registered for the camps. He had been introduced to the mission trip by other Luther Rice graduates that work in Austria as international school administrators. One of the students from that school was from Kosovo, and the trip was arranged through that student’s family. It is a prime example of how God’s work in the world continues—lives are being touched and souls are being saved.

Luther Rice is proud of all its graduates and the work they do in the United States and around the world.

Dr. Gerald Harris, Editor and President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s state paper, The Christian Index, served as this year’s commencement speaker. He has served as Editor since May of 2003. Before coming to The Christian Index, Harris served as a pastor for several churches throughout the southeastern states. He encouraged the graduates to follow God’s call on their lives and reach out to others with God’s message of salvation. Harris earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Rice in 1977 and received the Alumnus of the Year award from Luther Rice in 2008.

A couple of faculty members also graduated with their doctorates this year. We would like to congratulate:

Dr. Sharon Atkins
Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling
Doctor of Ministry in Marriage and Family Therapy (Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary)
Dissertation: “The Impact of the Absent Father on Females and Their Journey Toward Healing as They Learn the Importance of Choosing to Forgive”

Dr. Joshua Stewart
Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew
Doctor of Philosophy in Hebrew and Old Testament (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)
Dissertation: “The Frequency and Distribution of the X-finite Verb Clause in the Second Book of the Psalter”

Again, we give our heartfelt congratulations to all our graduates. Now, having achieved this significant milestone in their lives, they will spread out across the United States and the world to fulfill the Great Commission mandate and share the love of God with a hurting world.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | August 25, 2014

Transition of leadership reflects story of Table Community Church

It is not often that a pastor and the interim who follows him sit down together to speak publicly.


Rev. Patrick Dee, left, interim pastor at Table Community Church, and founder Rev. Dan Houck prepare Aug. 12 for the upcoming Apple Fest (Picture courtesy of Marty Heisey).

But it happened recently when the Rev. Dan Houck, who founded The Table Community Church in 2004, and the Rev. Patrick Dee, who became The Table’s interim following Houck’s departure in May, met to talk about the future of the church in the Atlantic Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church.

Houck, of Lancaster, began the church on Nov. 6, 2004, with about 40 core members. Today about 85 people “call it home,” says Dee, 46, of Harrisburg, who has a one-year agreement with the church.

The congregation worships at Lancaster County Christian School, 651 Lampeter Road, at 7:15 p.m. Saturdays, with a children’s program at 6:45 p.m. Dee says a search for a new pastor will begin in the fall.

“The whole idea” for the name of the church, says Houck, “was a word picture that communicates what the congregation was to be — a place for people to gather, to share stories, to become friends, to serve and be served — a place of hospitality and welcome for guests.”      

Worshippers at The Table sit at round tables for services, which include — besides music and a message -— discussions and games. Recently, the congregation played Balderdash, a board game of obscure words.

“We’re just trying to get people interacting,” says Dee, who previously served six years as a pastor at The Bridge Church, in Hummelstown.

“There’s no way you come to The Table and go home and say, ‘No one talked to me,’ ” adds Houck.

Houck, a BIC pastor for 36 years, says he stepped down as The Table’s pastor after 10 years because he felt it was time for new leadership. Previously, he served as an associate pastor at Pequea Church for 12 years. A native of Pottstown, he came to the area in 1982 to serve the former Shenk’s Community Church, in Elizabethtown.

In contrast to Houck, Dee, who was born in Chicago Heights and raised in Colorado, has a “checkered church past.”

“I was born Catholic. My parents were involved with a charismatic church for several years of my childhood. In middle school, I was a Baptist. And I was in a nondenominational church in my young adult years. I was always active in church. My sense of connection with church is how to engage with the world rather than with theology.”

Ministry is a second career for Dee, who graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a degree in finance and previously owned a general and electrical contracting and property management company in Colorado.

Tired of business, he was exploring other options when a friend who was a pastor of a church undertaking a large building project in Atlanta asked him to lead some ministries.

“We’ll send you to seminary,” his friend said.

Dee received a master of arts degree in biblical leadership from Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Ga., while serving at his friend’s church. That’s when he found his way to the BIC Church.

“I was looking for a church that was a better fit for me. Online I saw a position for the church in Hummelstown.”

By sheer coincidence, Dee was talking to Pauline Peifer, bishop of the Atlantic Regional Conference of the BIC, about moving on from the Hummelstown church on the same day she received a letter from Houck notifying her that he was stepping down from The Table.

“For me, an interim is not just holding a place,” says Dee. “Some special work needs to happen that’s hard to do with a settled pastor. As an interim, it’s not my job to mesh my vision with the congregation’s vision. It’s to help the congregation get clarity where they are and what they feel called to do. … Part of it is to know who they are without Dan.”

Interims are fairly new in the BIC Church, Houck says, and an invaluable help to a congregation in transition.

“If a pastor has been there a long time and a new one comes, the congregation cannot help but make comparisons. An interim is kind of a buffer,” Houck says.

“So when the next person comes, the Dan stuff is gone,” Dee adds. “And a transition presents an opportunity for growth, a special time to go from who are we without Dan. A space of not knowing gives a time for next knowing.”

“See why it’s time for me to go,” Houck asks. “He’s got good stuff. I’m so happy. They are going to move ahead.”


The Table will hold its third annual Apple Fest at Lancaster County Christian School from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, rain or shine. Games, including an “appstacle” course, will be held and a free meal, with an apple dessert contest, will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. Character juggler Chris Ivey will perform at 7 p.m.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | August 19, 2014

Providing Real Hope for Hurting People – The Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling Degree

Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus stated, “For the poor you have with you always; but you do not always have Me” (Matt. 26:11). The following might be said of the ministry of biblical counseling: The hurting you have with you always, but thank God for the ministry of His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The statistics of people in emotional pain are overwhelming. Magazines cite the decline of mental health in the United States, television commercials tout the efficacy of the newest antidepressant drugs, and Internet ads promote sure-fire therapeutic cures for a variety of disorders. The one thing that is consistently missing is an emphasis on the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit and the application of the Word of God to human needs.

Luther Rice exists to provide biblical education for Christian ministers and leaders around the world. That biblical education is designed to produce well-trained pastors and Christian leaders who will in turn be more headshot_cobbsuccessful in ministering to those under their care.

All degree programs have been created and designed with that driving purpose in mind. There are 11 degree tracks available for students to choose from, and all but the Doctor of Ministry degree can be earned completely through online studies. The flexibility of online studies allows students to juggle life, work, family, ministry, and their studies successfully. Traditional on-site studies are also available at our beautiful campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree (MABC) was established on a two-fold trustworthy foundation: the authority of the Word of God and the indwelling power of the Spirit of Christ. In John 14:16, Jesus promised that when He ascended to heaven, He would send another Helper to be with His people forever. In the MABC degree program, students learn how to depend on the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit when ministering to hurting people. Counseling students also discover how to apply the wisdom of the Word of God to a variety of specific interpersonal issues that plague our world today.

We all live in complicated and confusing times, and God’s people are certainly not immune to crises and traumas. Churches and pastors may opt to refer their members to secular specialists, who treat problems with a medical care model that is bereft of any lasting spiritual value. While mental health professionals may provide help to hurting people at the physical or psychological level, the spiritual level is often ignored.

While the MABC degree does not equip graduates with the required coursework to become a state-licensed professional counselor, the curriculum does prepare students for a counseling ministry. MABC graduates learn to provide practical spiritual help to hurting people through serving as pastoral counselors in church-based counseling centers, as non-licensed counselors in community-based counseling centers, and in an assortment of related church staff positions.

Contact Dr. Ron Cobb, the Program Coordinator at or 770-484-1204 for information about enrollment in the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling degree program.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | July 30, 2014

Office of Institutional Effectiveness Heads Effort for Additional Accreditation

By Jeff McCann, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness

mccann and shirley

Mrs. Sally Shirley, Administrative Assistant for IE & Dr. Jeff McCann

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) has become increasingly important to college, university, and seminary education. In most cases, the OIE is not very visible; yet, it plays a crucial role in the life of its educational institution by collecting and disseminating data to key stakeholders for decision-making. In an era of accountability, this function has become of increasing strategic importance to institutions of higher education. The OIE at Luther Rice University (LRU) has been extremely busy over the past year, focusing on projects that directly affect students and alumni.

One major accomplishment from this past year has been the awarding of initial accreditation by the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). The ABHE accredits undergraduate and graduate programs and is an U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accredidation (CHEA) approved accrediting agency. LRU prepared and submitted a comprehensive self-study document and hosted an evaluation team on October 21-23, 2013. The ABHE Commission on Accreditation granted initial accreditation on February 19, 2014.

A second major initiative has been to attain approval from all states to offer online courses. Approval from each state is a new regulation from the U.S. Department of Education. All 50 states plus the District of Columbia have been contacted to determine the requirements, and Luther Rice has met all the requirements for 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia.

Recently, the OIE submitted a substantive change request for approval of the new degree Master of Arts in Ministry to the states of Georgia and Florida, in addition to two accrediting agencies. Our goal is to make the new degree available in the fall of 2014.

Much of our efforts this year have been to develop a process of measuring student learning. All of our syllabi undergo evaluation as part of the process. Two faculty teams met recently to analyze student performance in courses and on assignments during the spring semester, and to develop a report that analyzes student learning.

Other annual activities include the submission of IPEDS reports, the preparation of accreditation agency annual reports, and the administration of approximately 30-40 annual assessments. During each summer, an assessment report is completed. Failure to complete these projects could affect the institution’s ability to offer financial aid for students, as these activities demonstrate transparency and accountability.

All of these efforts have, as their purpose, to demonstrate that Luther Rice, as an institution of higher learning, is fulfilling its mission and purpose, as well as delivering a quality product.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | July 22, 2014

A Tribute to Dr. James W. Bryant: A Christian Statesman Goes Home to Glory

The well-respected Christian statesman Dr. James W. Bryant unexpectedly went home to be with his Heavenly Father on June 11, 2014. Dr. Bryant served as the third president of Luther Rice Seminary, guiding the institution from 1991-1993. He oversaw the first two years of transition as Luther Rice moved from Jacksonville, Florida, to its present location in Atlanta, Georgia. In a trustees’ meeting in 1991, Bryant, who was currently serving as the Executive Vice President of Luther Rice, was approved to become the next president. He served as president until his resignation in April 1993.   

Bryant had a broad ministry background, serving as Pastor of several Southern Baptist churches. He graduated with honors from Wheaton College with his Bachelor of Arts degree and earned Doctor and Master of Divinity degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served on the board of trustees for two Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries and served as a member and trustee of the Executive Committee of the SBC. Bryant also held positions on several other boards within the SBC and was a professional member of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Bryant was a gifted pastor and professor who served in many different churches in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as Arkansas, New Mexico, and Georgia. In the early 1970s, Bryant played a key role in the organization of Criswell Bible Institute, now Criswell College, and served as its first Academic Dean. Later he held the office of President of Academic Affairs at Criswell College. He most recently served as the Distinguished Senior Professor of Pastoral Theology.   

Bryant was an accomplished author who wrote multiple books, the most recent being “The New Guidebook for Pastors.” One of his other books, “The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament,” was translated into Swahili for use in Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board seminaries in Africa.   

Dr. James W. Bryant was born on September 24, 1936, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Charles and Addie Bryant. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Ruby; son Scott Bryant and wife, Kendra; son Kurt Bryant and wife, Hollie; granddaughter Nicole Fender and husband, Shea; grandson Luke Bryant and wife, Suzanne; one sister, Jackie Marvin, and other numerous family members.

A memorial service was held at 2:00pm on Monday, June 16, 2014, at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, or Criswell College.

Luther Rice Seminary joins in the celebration of a life well lived by a man who served God and his fellow man with fervor and conviction.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | July 7, 2014

2014 Alumnus of the Year Award

Rev. Tom Powell, Senior Pastor TomPowellAlumnus_2014 (800x600)

Living Grace Ministries

Tacoma, Washington

The 2014 Luther Rice Alumnus of the Year award was presented to Rev. Tom Powell on May 16during the Annual Graduation Banquet. Almost 600 people attended the banquet held at First Baptist Church, Snellville, Georgia. The graduates and their families enjoyed a delicious meal and student testimonials during the evening’s festivities.

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Powell received Christ in 1975 while serving in the U.S. Army in Korea. After finishing his military service in 1977, he relocated to attend a Bible college in Massachusetts. While at that school, he participated in a youth revival that saw many teenagers called to full-time ministry.

In 1981, Powell, his family, and ten others left New England to establish a church in Tacoma, Washington. Over 30 years later, that pioneering work has grown into Living Grace Ministries. The church serves the spiritual and physical needs of Tacoma and the surrounding area with many community and multicultural outreaches and partnerships.

The church actively supports local and international missions, operates a food bank, offers a free sports program for children, serves weekly meals at a rescue mission, holds weekly services at a nursing home, and performs various other charitable works.

Powell received his Bachelor of Theological Studies degree from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, his Master of Theological Studies degree from Northwest Baptist Seminary, and his Master of Divinity degree from Luther Rice Seminary. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree at Luther Rice.

Powell exemplifies the Christian outreach Luther Rice graduates and students are having all around the world. His local and international ministries are demonstrating God’s love and salvation for innumerable people—hurting people that long for true hope only found in Christ. He is one of over 7,000 Luther Rice graduates sharing the gospel with a world in need.

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | February 4, 2014

“The World’s War on Christianity”

Did you know that Christians are the most persecuted religious body on the face of the planet? John L. Allen, senior Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Report states that “this is a human rights disaster of epic proportions.” Read the article published in the Huffington Post written by pastor, author, speaker & LRU Graduate & Alumnus of the Year, Rev. Robert J. Morgan regarding “the world’s best kept secret.”

Article: The World’s War on Christianity 

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | December 16, 2013

Interview with #LRUalum Mike Sherrard, Director of Ratio Christi College Prep

Interview with Mike Sherrard, Director of Ratio Christi College Prep and Teaching Pastor of Crosspointe Community Church in Peachtree City, GA.

1) How would you define the word Apologetics?
2) How did you become interested in the study of and engagement in Apologetics?
3) What is the purpose of Ratio Christi and how can your ministry benefit churches and Christian organizations?
4) What career advice would you give our students who are in the study of Apologetics?
5) Anything you would like to add regarding how God is using the ministry of Ratio Christi in your life?

Link to Mike Sherrard’s bio:

His personal website:

Posted by: Luther Rice College & Seminary | November 8, 2013

How do I develop other leaders? VIDEO WEBINAR by Dr. Rusty Ricketson

Watch our latest webinar led by Leadership Professor Dr. Rusty Ricketson on answering the question, “How do I develop other leaders?” Here is a link to the 11/6/2013 LIVE webinar:


LRU is very excited about our FREE monthly webinar series called, “28 Minutes to CONNECT & SHARPEN.” The webinars are for students, alumni, and prospects to provide tools for ministry and Christian service. It is a wonderful opportunity to interact LIVE with LRU’s expert professors. We have already held THREE webinars so far (church conflict, divorce, & preaching) and they were well attended (over 100 each).

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