CPBC UNITES: Synchronizing the theological system

As a sequel to the previous post on Institute representing the second letter of the paradigm framework MINISTER, let us focus on the Unified Theological Education System (UNITES) of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC). CPBC UNITES is an attempt to bring together all existing theological institutions affiliated with the CPBC under one system.

It is an offshoot of previous studies and initiatives of various organizations. Conceptualized by the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee, it was subsequently approved by the CPBC Board of Trustees in 2007. Foremost of its direction is the setting up of standard and policies for all member theological institutions. This is in consonance with needs of churches and institutions and the requirements of accrediting agencies both governmental and denominational. It includes among others the standardization of programs & curriculum, the faculty and library requirements.

The design promotes interrelatedness of theological institutions thru mutual partnership with one another and with CPBC Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee. A support mechanism for faculty & library upgrade, scholarships, financial sustenance, and administrative/technical expertise is included in the concept. Likewise, the monitoring and evaluation of the level of each member institutions. There is also a provision for the continuing education program for alumni of respective theological institutions.

The CPBC UNITES is a breakthrough to reverse the perennial trend in the Convention. Theological institutions are left on their own without clear cut policies and procedures. There is no deliberate and systematic effort for assistance as well as consultation, monitoring, evaluation, permit or sanction by the national body. As such, there is no sense of accountability and established system of relationship. While belonging to one denomination, theological institutions do not have close connection. In almost all aspects, “each to its own” mentality prevailed.

The trend results to more diversities than commonalities. Subsequently, there has been lopsided development. In most instances, the rich resources are concentrated on theological institution with small number of students while those with scarce resources have the bigger population and needs. Academically, while some have geared for quality education, others have maintained the status quo with less effort to upgrade the faculty and facilities.

The wrong concept of autonomy has aggravated the situation. As an institution, complacency has set in. Nobody seems to call the shot except those who personally take the cudgel individually or as a group. Although there has been initiatives, most often such experience natural death due to lack of institutional support, if not adverse reactions.

The CPBC UNITES  has become a paradigm shift in the systemic problem of our theological institutions. It was instrumental in the synchronization of diverse programs, divisive orientations and institutional culture. Through this breakthrough, we succeeded to formulate a standardized curriculum which promotes unity while maintaining respective peculiarities and specializations.

The bond of seminarians has been strengthened as the innovation has institutionalized the theological forum and fellowship of various seminaries and bible schools. It also resulted to faculty exchange and opened the door for volunteerism. CBMA National officers  volunteered to teach with the support of our association.

The CPBC UNITES offers an opportunity to consolidate and synergize initiatives from various individuals, groups and institutions. There is now a venue for concerted effort, and exchange of ideas, dreams and visions. Likewise, it provides a link to the past, present and future. In a recent conversation with the CPBC General Secretary, Rev. Judson Herbilla, he recalled the time when TEMC program was added to his work as Mission and Evangelism director. Series of consultations were conducted resulting to some recommendations that paved the way towards the concept of unified theological system, as follows:

(1)Continuing theological education should be regularized and institutionalized on a ladderized scheme, with credits towards bachelors and masters degree, or certificate.

(2)Creation of Center of Allied Learning Institute for Life (CALL) composed of accredited faculty from various institutions to call the shot for unified system and to confer degrees to its graduates.

(3)Enrich and upgrade existing theological institutions

Another product of the CPBC UNITES is the Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM). The degree is a combination of Master of Science in Social Work program and pastoral ministry courses. The mission of the MSPM program is to prepare graduate students for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership, church administration and social/community services.

(To be continued)

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This blog focuses on the Convention Baptist Ministers Association and  Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. It will recall successful activities in the past, analyze and make commentaries on the trends and issues in both organizations. In this way, we can refresh ourselves, remind the current officers and guide the future leaders of our organizations of the struggles we have and the covenant to keep.

May other readers learn from our experiences and find inspiration to guide them in their respective struggles.

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About edwin lariza

University Professor. Registered Social Worker. Ordained Minister. Advocate of volunteerism, spirituality and networking for holistic development.
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