BCC President: "Send your kids to BICS!"
Among the activities featured at the 2018 Eastern Regional Association Annual Convention was a panel discussion dealing with the topic of leadership development. Members of the panel included Pastor Sam Cobb of Hope Church, Pastor Roger Brown of Calvary Bible Church, President Glenn Rice of Berkshire Christian College, President Andy Rice of Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies, and Matt Larkin of ACGC and Oxford Advent Christian Church. Each was given an opportunity to the share the unique ways in which the institutions they represent are making strides towards developing leaders who will be ably equipped to serve in Advent Christian churches.
Relating their respective experiences with Antioch School and their church-based form of leadership development, both Sam Cobb and Roger Brown offered accounts that reflected churches that had made shifts at the ground level regarding the way in which they conceive of leadership development, seeing it as beginning in the home and following an ordered pattern intended to build up believers into leaders of the local church. Both have benefited immensely from the Antioch program, having seen new pastoral leaders raised and parents taking responsibility for the discipleship of their children.
In the case of BICS, Andy Rice explained the unique but limited role the institute offers in the way of leadership development. Rice freely admitted that BICS cannot alone provide all that is necessary to develop Advent Christian leaders, but suggested that the institute offers a vital starting point for potential Advent Christian leaders. Offering more than just a formal biblical education program, he indicated that the essence of the institute is fixated on the discipleship of Christian young people, nurturing and setting them firm in the Christian worldview.
Berkshire Christian College enters into the discussion a step beyond this starting point. Glenn Rice described the ways in which Berkshire continues its mission by offering opportunities for an online pastoral/theological education through eBerkshire and maintaining a substantial scholarship and professorial position at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. All the members of the panel generally sounded notes expressing a desire for cooperation and collaboration and among them Glenn Rice was quite expressive. In the wake of a question from the audience wondering whether the grievous separation of BCC and BICS might in some way be undone and the two reconciled, President Rice offered an enthusiastic conciliatory admonition to the audience, saying, “Send your kids to BICS!”* While no signal was given of any organizational integration, this expression sealed the sense of collaboration in the air.
Matt Larkin comes upon the scene of the Eastern Region with fresh eyes. Hailing from Maine, but having long been employed at ACGC headquarters, he now continues to serve ACGC in a regionally installed partnership with the Oxford church as the pioneer/brainchild of a denominational leadership development program. While not having many specifics to offer aside from the establishment of the regional leadership of this program on the West Coast in the person of Jack Mumford and the desire to come along students pursuing vocational ministry, his mere presence and open disposition further suggested that these disparate pieces of leadership development may not be so disparate for long.
Taken as a whole, this panel represents most of the educational assets that remain for the Advent Christian Church. Time will tell if they can piece it together. For whatever it’s worth, this writer is hopeful.
*The "separation" referred to above in the paraphrase of an audience member’s question may inadvertently suggest that BCC and BICS were once one institution. While the founders of BICS were once involved in BCC, their endeavor began after the Lenox campus closed.*