Andersonville Assoc. Degree?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by roybrown, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    I'm nineteen, married, and I work currently as an Assistant Pastor at a small American Baptist Church (15-20 every Sunday). The church licensed me to preach a few months ago, but I've been doing it for quite awhile. Usually once or twice a month.

    I've been looking for a biblical education that is not only affordable, but also caters to how little time I have in the day. When I'm not preparing sermons, and teaching Sunday School each week, I'm working a security job. Which does not pay alot.

    I know there's quite alot of controversy over Andersonville Theological Seminary on these boards; how they lack accreditation, etc. But, their offer is very appealing. An Associate's in Biblical Studies for $1,500. ($200 down, $50 each month). It would be just what I need to satisfy the congregation that I'm getting an education, and also to work on the track to ordination. And also for educational enrichment.

    Should I go for the Associates at Anderson? If not, why not, and is there any other similarly priced schools which have monthly payment options which won't require me to take out loans?

    I've looked at Nations University and though they're now accredited by the DEAC and they were my first pick, $450 every three months with an overall total of $8,000 once finished seems steep. I have a hard time budgeting with what little cash I make.

    Thoughts and opinions, please?
  2. Marcus Aurelius

    Marcus Aurelius Active Member

  3. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Hmmmm . . . The offer to Adam by the woman with the apple was, I’m sure, also appealing. Be that as it may . . .

    Welcome to DI, Roy. Looks like you’ve already done your initial research on Andersonville, but you haven’t yet learned the general principle: If you feel compelled to ask whether they are legit, they are not.

    Moreover, when you say that you are affiliated with an American Baptist Church, do you mean a church that is part of the ABC-USA denomination (which runs very credible schools)? If so, they will laugh their denominational asses off at you if you go with Andersonville. If Tony Campolo were dead (which, I assume, he is not – yet), he would turn over in his grave. If you are not part of the American Baptist Churches of the USA, you should not use the term “American Baptist Church” – it has a specific meaning.

    Andersonville is a rip-off, period. A sham, a scam, a blatant fraud. And no amount of wishful thinking on your part will make it become anything but the degree mill it has always been. And nothing will blow any credibility you may have faster than a so-called credential from them.

    For guidance, start by asking your own pastor, assuming that your pastor has legitimate credentials (which may or may not be the case). Remember that while you don’t need a seminary education to be a Baptist pastor, in the ABC churches you do need any education you receive to be legitimate. The ABC denomination is home to many fully accredited schools and seminaries. They may be optional based on traditional Baptist polity (look it up), but going to a degree mill is the fastest way to become a laughingstock.

    Finally, what state are you in? (That is, your state of residence, not your state of mind, which at the moment, is somewhat confused.) We might be able to point you in the right direction knowing your location.

    In the meantime, being 19 years old, don’t be in too much of a rush. Baptists are often guilty of the evangelical fallacy that they are heathens yesterday, born again today, and tomorrow they’re calling themselves theologians. You’ve got lots of time to pull this off, so sit back and take a few relaxed, deep breaths . . .
    RoscoeB likes this.
  4. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    I know you well, Steve! I've seen your opinion on this school in prior posts. Years ago, even. This is ABC-USA that we're talking about, correct. My pastor received his BA from somewhere in Louisiana if I'm not mistaken, and it is recognized. Though, he initially studied at Tennessee Temple in Chattanooga.

    I'm in Eastern Iowa, but the church I serve in is in Western Illinois, a stones throw away. I've attended some of the meetings of our ABC region and they don't seem as denominational or "strict". And in recent years, it seems the denomination has liberalized. Though, that's another talk.

    I do feel a sense of urgency, even though I'm young. I could be made to Senior Pastor in 3-4 years time, as that's the congregations wish, and also the wish of the Senior Pastor who has health problems.

    I'm looking for online degree programs only, please. As I said before, affordable and an Associate's program is preferred. And Marcus, I'll check that out right now. Thank you.
  5. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    If you're 19 and not earning a significant income, have you tried filled out your FASFA? Depending on your circumstances, you'll likely be eligible for a Pell grant. It may be enough to entirely pay for enrollment at an accredited school. You're young enough to go slow, as Steve mentioned. Take your time, regardless of your views now, they will likely change during these early formative years of your life. A poor school choice may not challenge you to truly grow in your knowledge, discernment, and capabilities. If you truly desire a career in ministry, regardless of your denominational or religious beliefs, you have to start with a solid foundation. A rocky foundation can destroy your credibility, destroy your faith, and give you the appearance of being a charlatan. Take your time, go slow, grow, persevere. You have all of the time in the world at this point.
    Helpful2013 likes this.
  6. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    I have not tried FASFA yet but being awarded a Pell Grant for the entire amount of tuition is a scenario I hope for. I've looked into Hobe Sound Bible College and there was a person who claimed that since their tuition is so low, the Pell Grant covered EVERYTHING.

    I hear what you're saying about a solid foundation. I'm leaning away from Andersonville now, and now I'm just looking for other alternatives. Accredited, whether national or regional would be nice. I know schools that are solely national usually are cheaper.
  7. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    Pull up your tax info and head over to the FASFA website. You can have the application entirely completed, before heading to bed tonight. If you've been reading this forum for years now, as mentioned earlier, you're aware of the differences in accreditation. The only thing I'll add, is that you're 19 years old, not going for a regionally accredited degree can be significantly limiting towards your future endeavors. Few of us have our life perfectly mapped out at 19, or know exactly how we'll transverse through this life... I'd be hesitant to start off with something that may limit future options.
  8. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    So, am I actually able to fill out a FASFA without applying to a school or being accepted first by one? I've always thought that you do your FASFA during a certain season and then that's sent directly to the school or something. If I'm able to fill out a FASFA without the government yelling at me, I will.
  9. Vonnegut

    Vonnegut Well-Known Member

    You simply need to list at least one college to receive the information. Keep it simple and just pick a local community college or regional state university. You do not need to be accepted in advance nor does it bind you to that school.


    FASFA Myths
  10. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    I created an account. I have to wait 1-3 days while Social Security verifies all my information in the system.
  11. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    I submitted my FASFA two days ago, and now I'm just waiting for it back. My EFC was zero. I'm still needing recommendations for colleges with cheap Associates in Religion/Religious Studies, Ministry, Biblical Studies, Theology, etc.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    You should just shoot for a bachelor's. I don't know what you can do with an associate's. If you want to start with an associate's degree, it's easier to find philosophy programs at community colleges. Within those philosophy programs, you can take whatever theology or religious studies courses they offer. After that, you can transfer to a bachelor's program at a state university.
    Phdtobe likes this.
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I don't want to be a grinch or anything but there are a lot of programs that fit that general description and you can easily generate a list by doing a simple google search. Here's one

    If you want more specific recommendations then you'll need to be more specific about what you're looking for. I'd suggest you consider staying close to home and using a school that will have some name recognition in your area. Good luck
  14. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The OP can't afford $450 per quarter at Nations University, so I'm sure he can't afford Regents University. The max Pell Grant award is $6,195, so he needs something around that price or cheaper.

    Since an associate's in biblical or religious studies is pretty much worth noting, he should get it as cheap as possible and save the loans for a bachelor's program.
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  16. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

  17. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    As an old expression goes, you are caught between a rock and a hard place. The numbers (15 to 20 people each Sunday) indicate thet your church is either fairly new or, more likely, very old – in other words, a dying congregation. The good news is that under Baptist polity, churches are governed on a congregation basis (rather than a hierarchial basis) and can license or even ordain their own clergy at the church level. The bad news for you is that the norm in ABCcc-USA churches is to have seminary education – in other words, a bachcelor’s degree plus a three-year Master of Divinity degree. In fact, ABC-USA has ten of its own seminaries that have both regional and professional accreditations. You talked about working on the track to ordination. Remember that in the ABC-USA, that means at least seven years of full-time education.
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not going to find what you’re looking for. If Nations is too expensive, I’m afraid that they’re among the cheapest out there. As for Andersonville, believe me (if you believe nothing else), it’s more honorable to have no credential than it is to have an Andersonville credential. An Andersonville degree will definitely come back to bite you on the ass.
    For an ABC-USA church, your congregation appears to be on the conservative side – among Baptists on the whole (and there are hundreds of Baptist denominations, ABC-USA is among the most liberal.

    In light of your pastor’s background, I’d recommend Tennessee Temple, which was once one of the bastions of Fundamentalism and one of the best schools of that ilk, even when it was unaccredited. However, TTU flew the coop a few years ago, merging into Piedmont International University in North Carolina.

    One of the closest “schools of excellence” in the Midwest that would meet your doctrinal standards is Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, but their current tuition rate is $350 per credit, far more than you can afford. (Disclosure: I never went to Moody, but I was a Moody Press author at one time.)
    In light of that, the question becomes whether the ABC denomination, or even your own congregation, can help foot the bill – that’s something for you to explore. Or, in harmony with that, whether you can qualify for any type of scholarship from a credible school. I wouldn’t get my hopes too high, because higher education has become a racket these days, but it’s certainly something to check into.

    Meanwhile, and I’m not in a position to speculate on this, you should check into how much authority your own congregation has in terms of appointing you to a senior pastoral role or even ordaining you. Even though Baptist governance allows these things at the congregational level, the question will be how tolerant the denominational authorities are at letting that sort of thing happen (or whether the church might be risking its status with the denomination).
  18. roybrown

    roybrown New Member

    The region would be accepting of me teaching full-time. The church doing an ordination without prior region authorization or discussion though? Probably not. And yes, a very old church. It just celebrated its 200th anniversary a few years ago.

    I also know of the heightened ordination standards the denomination has brought. Though, there's several tracts. One of which only requires 7 years ministerial experience and a course over polity.

    Thank you for the recommendation @sanantone. I'll definitely check it out. This thread can be closed if that's what happens here. @Kizmet
  19. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    It's never closed to you Roy

  20. Garp

    Garp Active Member

    Roy, at your age you need to think about the future and not waste time with an unaccredited degree, much less one with a questionable reputation.

    If budget is an issue, there is an unaccredited possibility you could turn into an accredited Masters. They note they are working with ABHE (recognized accredtitor). Possible they will become accredited but who knows. However, they (Christian Leaders Institute) does have agreements with Western Theological Seminary, Ohio, and Calvin Theological Seminary to accept their bachelors graduates into their accredited Masters programs.

    The fee for the bachelors is around $1250 (in payments). So, you could earn the Bachelors and then go into the Masters at one of the accredited seminaries they have agreements with. Or you could get lucky and CLI gains ABHE.

    One thing to note is that they are NOT specifically Baptist and based on two of their partners are Reformed theologically.

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