"Serving as President of both Christian College...the Disciples College and the Mission for Biblical Literacy is a natural and fullfilling blend of my vocations in Christian ministry, higher education, and mission." - Bob Harris
Founded in 1978 by the late Dr. Roger N. Carstensen, the Mission took on the name of “Institute for Biblical Literacy”.
However, the need to open the Bible in other countries became apparent when Dr. Carstensen was invited to the Soviet Union to teach the Bible to high school teachers in the region of Irkutsk, Siberia.
To this very date, work continues in Russia with staff, selected and supported for specific projects. In 1993, the Board of Directors changed the name of the mission to the “Mission for Biblical Literacy”.
We have entered and era where we must be cautious about publishing the names of missionaries or depicting images of the people who are served, especially those of children and families in their most sacred settings -- the home, the church, or the school. I will take a few paragraphs, however, to reflect on the leaders (unnamed) who have had a definitive impact on our mission over the years.
Surely all who know of the viability and impact of the mission in Russia know of our first missioary, even if they have not met her in person. She has made numerous trips to the US, and she has likewise hosted hundreds of Christians from the US who have invested in "Hands-On" ministry in and around Moscow. The work across Siberia would never have been conceived nor completed with her or with a retired officer in the Soviet military.Both made friends with so many people in US churches, and both brought many new friends into the ministry of MBL.
A noteworthy Presbyterian minister began MBL ministry in Honduras, mostly focusing on health and literacy. Later, he started Bible Classes for adults, many who are pastors or lay preachers in Nicaragua; he extended the ministry of MBL through significant relationships with Christians in Jerusalem and in Palestine. We dare not forget his devotion to Bible Study.
Another hero of the Mission for Biblical Literacy is our missionary to Haiti. Much of her work in Haiti has been humanitarian, providing nutrition to mal-nourished children as well as their mothers. She also provides water filters to families so that they can have clean drinking water. As French is the language of Haiti, she provides French Language Bibles when those are available.Her work is through the Diocese of Haiti, thus demonstrating the ecumenical spirit of our mission.
In later years a work was started in Armenia, through the efforts of our President Emeritas. An inspired Christian woman came along and she reached out to the orphanages where many children, from ages 4-17 were attending (orphans parents may still live in the citiy but are unable to care for their children due to any number of reasons). Coordinating her work closely with our missionary in Moscow, she lived in Moscow and now resides in Los Angeles, CA. But sge recruits her volunteers both in Moscow and while she is in Armenia. She oversees vacation Bible schools to orphanages that usually hold around 145 children.
The aim of the Mission for Biblical Literacy is focused on the theme, “Help Stamp out Biblical Illiteracy”. In this time of wide and circulating global information, I believe that Biblical knowledge needs to be accelerated and made available to all people of our world. Else, how does one come to know the Love of God through a person named Jesus Christ?
I invite you to join us as we work to carry out the Great Commission.
And I invite you to consider your own vocation as a Christian. Whatever role or position or duty you have been assigned, as a Christian one of the greatest acts of faithfulness is to draw closer to God through gaining a greater intimacy with the Author of the written Word, the story of the "Word made flesh."
We live in a time in history where we have more information available to us to help us know God better, clarify our purpose better, serve other people better...that ever before. And the vast world of Biblical resources and teaching is growing every day. Radio and TV, yes. But also websites, live conferences, virtual conferences, classroom study, remote or online study, podcasts, blogs, etc. It is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming.
The Disciples College steps in, not into a vacuum but into a saturation. And we celebrate that saturation. It is a world of Biblical knowledge which almost anyone with a device and an internet connection can enter, explore, enjoy.
However, sorting out what is available and also useful appropriate for one's setting can be a task so great that we may be tempted to do nothing. But God never calls us to do nothing, not when it comes to growing in Godly love and wisdom, faith, hope, charity.
You will find some of the same resources that are shared on this website on the Disciples College website. But to see what we offer together, there is little need to go further than what we offer here unless you are seeking specific certification of the studies you decide to complete.
So all you really need to do is to continue your exploration of this website and find Biblical Literacy resources for enrichment of your own growth in our faith, and then move to the section "College Curriculum" in order to find courses of study which can lead to certificates, diplomas, degrees in Bible and Christian Ministry.
That being said, I want to close with just a brief background on Christian College (known in our official registration in the State of Georgia as Christian College of Georgia). The Christian College of Georgia was founded in 1947 by individuals in the vicinities of Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, men who wanted to ensure that there would be a place in Athens, near the University of Georgia, for those called to Christian Ministry to prepare themselves for their chosen careers.
A formal relationship was forged with the Univeristy of Georgia Department of Religion whereby a student would complete a series of courses at Christian Colege of Georgia (located immediately to the west of campus) and have those courses included in his academic degree as "Religion Electives". Thus, the Christian College (not unlike other similar institutions or ministries or "Bible Chairs" at universities across the country was able to align itself with a formal, accredited institution.
This model served quite well for about two decades. The formal agreement, however, was abandoned in the Sixties as other ministries and churches wondered "why can't we enjoy such a relationship for our teaching with the University?" The University was inclined to haveNO such relationships rather than have to navigate the handwriting on the wall.
Then, for another two decades, Christian College enjoyed a very influential season of teaching pastors from across Northeast Georgia, mostly pastors from small, rural and primarily African-American congregations. A curriculum from the Southern Baptist Convention was adopted and, with the enhancement of the classroom building of a library given by Cotner College in Nebraska, it seemed that the College might continue for a long and bright future.
Many congregations in the areas supported a college fellowship meal attended by students from the College classes, students from the University and residents of the men's dormitory and women's housing. The buildings on the seven acre campus were, while old and in need of regular maintenance, used for various initiatives which reflected the leadership of individuals who occupied the office of Dean and/or President.
There was a denominational campus ministry for the Disciples of Christ. Indeed there was a long period when the Collge was the recipient of regular financial support from the Christian Church in Georgia. There was housing for intenational students. There were multiple work/service programs. There were summer camp leadership programs and youth training events and even college recruiting activities.
A liability, however, which plagued the under-funded instituion with no real endowment (there were several permanant funds of modest sums, all of which are still in place) was the matter of deferred maintenance on the buildings. This problem was finally manifested in the inability of the College to maintain its most historic structure, and large "mansion" with notable Doric columns which stood at the corner of South Hull and Wray Streets.
In a nutshell, this mansion became the flashpoint for the Historic Preservation movement in the City of Athens, and after a rather lengthy ordeal for the College, the local goverment took (condemned) the entire campus of seven acres and eight buildings and, by imminent domain for historic purposes, became the owner in perpetuity (most of the acquired property being transferred to the University of Georgia as the City of Athens realized the actual costs of maintaining such structures). Much of the property remains for the curious, and the campus as it was is an enhancement to the western portion of the University of Goergia campus.
Itinerant since 1995m the College has continued to implement strategies intended to bring vitality to congregations and to provide life-long education in various ministerial competencies as the years have passed.
This brings us to the welcome era of online learning. The best way to see what this means is to simply move from this point to exploring some of the resources we have started to gather for YOUR USE.
We can help you structure your use of these resources, and a simple call to me with get you started.
May God bless you in whatever endeavor you choose, and may you find that greater intimacy with God through regular, consistent Bible Study will open doors to you to afford consolation in all of your life and service to others.
Bob Harris, President