General Superintendent’s News Bulletin – 4/7/16

News Bulletin from the General Superintendent
4-7-16

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General Superintendent David K. Bernard

Attendance Report
At the request of the General Board, the General Sunday School Division is making a concerted effort to collect three vital statistics for the UPCI: (a) Easter attendance or other peak attendance, (b) number baptized in one year, and (c) number receiving the Holy Ghost in one year. We will not report statistics for individual churches, but districts will report their totals, and we will publish the district and general totals for the US and Canada. The other nations of the world already report these statistics through Global Missions. We would like to report them for North America so that we can evaluate where we are, celebrate our progress, and plan for the future. I urge all pastors and churches to assist in this endeavor.

Tour of Israel
I invite you to join the General Sunday School Division, its director Steve Cannon, and me on an unforgettable tour of the Holy Land on February 6-15, 2017. My wife and I are excited to host this tour to Israel for the second time. For more information, see mjrupci.com or contact David Sagil at djsagil@sbcglobal.net.

Higher Education in the UPCI
Spring is the time when many students make plans to attend college in the fall. The UPCI has seven endorsed institutions of higher learning. I am happy to recommend them for the pursuit of a Christian education. For further information, please see their respective websites.

Urshan College (UC) and Urshan Graduate School of Theology (UGST)
Since the UPCI owns and operates UC and UGST, I will provide further information and answer some recent questions. UC and UGST operate as the Urshan System under one administration and board. Urshan is unique among UPCI educational institutions in three ways: (1) It is owned by the UPCI. (2) It has expanded beyond a Bible college model. In addition to bachelor’s degrees in Christian Ministry and Music Ministry, UC offers an associate’s degree in General Studies and bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Leadership, Music, Human Services, and Communication Studies (fall 2017), with further expansion planned in the future. UGST offers master’s degrees in Theological Studies (48 hours), Christian Ministry (48 hours), and Divinity (72 hours). Both schools offer degrees through an online format for those who cannot relocate to St. Louis. (3) UGST is accredited and UC is seeking accreditation. UGST has been accredited since 2010, and its accreditation was recently renewed through 2022. The Urshan System is currently seeking regional accreditation, which will provide initial accreditation for UC. While UC cannot advertise or guarantee a definite time, it can announce to its constituency that its goal is to attain candidacy in 2018.

Significance of Accreditation. Not every school needs accreditation to fulfill its mission, but for Urshan, accreditation fulfills the following purposes: assistance, enhancement, and credibility for its academic programs; student participation in federal financial aid; widespread acceptance of its credits and degrees; qualification for desirable jobs and careers especially for teaching, chaplaincies, and bivocational ministry. Urshan is committed to sharing the benefits of accreditation with other UPCI institutions. UGST has approval to accept graduates of UPCI colleges into its accredited master’s programs. Once UC is accredited, it can offer accredited bachelor’s degrees to alumni of UPCI colleges through transfer, blend, and degree-completion programs. Thus, students can attend a Bible college of their choice while also earning an accredited degree if they so desire. Currently, UGST is the only Oneness Pentecostal institution of higher learning in the US that has its own accreditation as recognized by the US Department of Education. (To check an institution, go to ope.ed.gov/accreditation.)

Doctrinal Identity. Accreditation does not compromise Apostolic identity but actually underscores it. The accreditors for US Bible colleges require a trinitarian statement of faith. For seminaries, however, the premier accreditor is the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), which encompasses all forms of Christianity and Judaism, both trinitarian and non-trinitarian. This is the accreditor for Harvard University Divinity School and for UGST. ATS requires schools to prove they are fulfilling their mission according to their advertised theological identity. Thus UGST must demonstrate that its curriculum and professors are truly Apostolic and that it prepares students for ministry in Apostolic churches. The Urshan System is seeking accreditation with the secular regional association that accredits the University of Missouri and the University of Chicago. This association accepts all types of religious schools.

The UPCI Articles of Faith is the doctrinal statement of the Urshan System. All faculty must affirm this position, and all students must uphold UPCI teachings on behavior and dress. All faculty and students must attend an Apostolic church. The theological faculty are credentialed UPCI ministers and annually affirm adherence to biblical teachings. The primary doctrinal teachers for both schools are Dr. David Norris and I. Typically I lecture in courses such as Introduction to Pentecostal Theology (UC), New Testament Foundations (UGST), and Systematic Theology (UGST). This semester I am teaching a total of 25 hours on subjects such as the Articles of Faith, Christology, Holiness, and Luke-Acts.

Campus. In December 2015 Urshan acquired its 22-acre campus in suburban St. Louis with a donation of about $3 million in equity from the Missouri District UPCI. The campus has a value of $5.25 million with a mortgage of about $2.3 million. Urshan has been servicing the mortgage for several years through lease payments, but now it owns the property. The campus has six buildings with about 200,000 square feet, including a historic chapel and a historic library built in 1840 and recently renovated. This property will now appear as an asset on the consolidated financial statements of the UPCI.

Publication of My Doctoral Thesis
My doctoral thesis has recently been published by Deo Publishing, a scholarly press in the UK. It is volume 45 of the Journal of Pentecostal Theology Supplement Series. To my knowledge this is the first book by a Oneness author on Christology to be published by a scholarly press. The book is available from the Pentecostal Publishing House at pentecostalpublishing.com. Here is PPH’s description:  “The Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ represents an important Oneness perspective in the growing body of scholarly literature focused on the belief of the earliest Christians that Jesus was God. Through a careful study of II Corinthians 3:16-4:6 and consideration of the Jewish context from which Paul wrote, Brother Bernard has made a vital contribution to the wider academic community that, in the words of noted scholar Amos Yong, ‘will have reverberations not only for the next generation of theologians but also for anyone interested in the christologies of the earliest followers of Jesus the Messiah.’”

Sincerely in Christ,
David K. Bernard

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General Superintendent’s News Bulletin – 4/7/16