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Posted: 6/06/03

Mary Hardin-Baylor opens
School of Christian Studies

By Ken Camp

Texas Baptist Communications

BELTON–The dean of the new School of Christian Studies at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor believes the name of the new program clearly expresses its focus and purpose.

“We are a place where students can study the Christian faith, knowing we offer no apologies for who we are. Our students come here to study under Christian professors, and they pursue their studies with an eye toward ministry,” said William Carrell, who served as chairman of the university's religion department before the new school opened June 1.

Steve Wyrick, Old Testament and Hebrew; Tony Martin, New Testament and Greek; Carol Holcomb, church history; William Carrell, dean of the school, theology; Steve Oldham, theology and philosophy; and Leroy Kemp, theology and ministry.

“The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is a strong Texas Baptist institution, and it fits well within our tradition of being here to minister to the churches,” he added.

Carrell sees the creation of the School of Christian Studies as a “natural development” for the university, which has grown from 1,000 to 2,700 in enrollment in recent years, and for its religion department.

He credits Steve Wyrick, former chairman of the religion department, with laying much of the groundwork for the program's growth, bringing it to the level where the School of Christian Studies became possible.

The university has set a goal of 100 students majoring in Christian studies within one year. “And I believe it's realistic to think that we could have one-tenth of the student body majoring in Christian studies in five years,” Carrell said.

Mary Hardin-Baylor has been moving in the direction of establishing the School of Christian Studies for several years. Last year, the religion faculty expanded from four full-time instructors to six: Carrell, Wyrick, Steve Oldham, Carol Holcomb, Tony Martin and Leroy Kemp.

The most obvious change students will see is a move from one undergraduate major in religion to four majors–Christian ministries, theology and philosophy, church history, and biblical studies.

The university already offers a master of arts in religion degree, with concentrations in either theological studies or Christian ministry. Ultimately, Carrell would like to see the master's-level program expanded to include practical interdisciplinary courses in management and psychology.

“But we're focused on our undergraduate program,” he said. “We have no plans to offer a master of divinity degree. We're not going to become a seminary any time in the foreseeable future.”

In fact, he said the university is seeking to work with Logsdon School of Theology in Abilene, Truett Seminary in nearby Waco, “and anybody else who wants to work with us” to develop its undergraduate program in a way that properly prepares ministerial students for seminary studies.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor also offers an 18-hour certificate program in Christian studies, and Carrell hopes to develop an enhanced program of continuing education for Christian leaders within his first year as dean.

“A strong commitment to the field of Christian studies helps identify the university,” Carrell said. “This is who the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is.”

UMHB is one of eight universities affiliated with and supported by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

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