For 76 students at North Carolina Theology Seminary, a dream is being realized, and it’s being realized right here in Sampson County, at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church this coming Saturday.
The North Carolina Theology Seminary will be holding its first, but now annual, commencement program for the 2014 graduating class on May 31, and this ground-breaking graduation is marking considerable perseverance for those involved in the seminary’s creation.
Dr. Varnie N. Fullwood, Sr. is the founder and president of one of the first colleges in the Sampson County area to be certified by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to operate as a religious college.
“The college is a year old,” said Dorcas ‘Dee’ Beatty, the schools administrative assistant, during a recent interview. “The college has been in existence for 10 years. Last year we officially made it a separate Bible college.”
“Everyone is invited to our first annual commencement ceremony,” she continued, excitement evident as she talked. “Seventy-six students will graduate.” Some of the students will graduate with degrees ranging from associates to doctorates, she divulged.
“Degrees include Biblical studies, theology, and Christian ministry,” she explained. The college, which the creator describes as having a competitive curriculum that is both affordable and convenient, is the only one of its kind in the area.
In 1983 Fullwood enrolled in Zoe College, which was a satellite Bible college out of Jacksonville, Fla. where he received a Bachelor of Divinity. While pursuing his masters he started an extension satellite campus for Zoe College University and ran it for three years. He later discontinued that school because of the expensive nature of the college.
In 2004, Fullwood met Dr. J.L. Cook who ran the North Carolina College of Theology when Fullwood was in Greensboro ordering his attire for his Bishop consecration service. They became friends and Cook offered Fullwood the chance to join up under the NCCT. Fullwood stuck with it for eight years. From that launching point, the minister created what is now the NC Theology Seminary, described as a blend of Biblical studies and theology curriculum.
“We are separate from the UNC schools but we report to them once a year, and we are fully accredited by Trans World Accreditation Commission International,” Beatty added.
“We are the first Bible college to be certified by UNC,” Beatty detailed. “We are an affordable college and we offer an accelerated program. You can do an associate’s in one year.”
She also mentioned that the students do have to do some of their school work at home, but the classes meet on Mondays at the church for two hours. The program is designed to help those that are working full time accomplish their dreams of a degree while being a pastor at a church.
The commencement ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church ,located at 4442 Bonnetsville Road, Clinton. There will be a light reception after the ceremony.
Registration is now being accepted for the 2014-15 year, which will start on Sept. 8. Those interested, Beatty said, can register Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. to noon on Fridays.
For more information, please call the Administrative Offices at 564-6630 and speak with Kia Rich, the executive director of Administrative Affairs, or see the website at www.mtpleasantmbc.org
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122. Follow us on Twitter: @SampsonInd