TCC board approves Jewish studies institute

Program will prepare leaders to take gospel to ‘the Jew first.’

DALLAS?Creation of the Pasche Institute of Jewish Studies will position The Criswell College (TCC) at the forefront of “preparing kingdom leaders for Jewish ministry,” said Jim Sibley and Todd Bradley, organizers of the new educational venture. At their June 4 meeting TCC trustees unanimously approved the Institute that is named for the late Albert and Dorothy Pasche of Dallas, early supporters of Criswell Bible Institute and Jewish ministries.

“I believe this is the right initiative at the right time for all the right reasons,” said TCC President Jerry Johnson after making the recommendation. “It’s biblical, strategic and gives us a unique voice out there. The Criswell College has been doing a lot of this already, but this puts shape to it and a worthy name to it?the Pasche Institute of Jewish Studies.”

Sibley, a national missionary for Jewish ministry appointed by the North American Mission Board and for 14 years a missionary to Israel, teaches missions and evangelism adjunctively at TCC. Bradley is a missions professor at the college and whose doctoral dissertation is related to Jewish studies. Over the last year they have examined how educational opportunities can be improved for Christians called to Jewish ministry. An advisory board formed in April began providing prayer support and counsel on the Institute’s format.

The Criswell College has emphasized evangelism and missions throughout the school’s 34-year history. The Pasche Institute picks up on the mandate to prepare “God-called laborers who will take the gospel ‘to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,'” Sibley said, quoting Romans 1:16.

The advisory board observed that several parachurch organizations are doing great work, but few local churches, denominations and affiliated schools have made Jewish ministry the priority that it is in the New Testament. While commending Moody Bible Institute’s undergraduate studies and Philadelphia Bible University’s certificate program, the board concluded that no reputable graduate degree for Jewish studies is available from a conservative, evangelical institution.

Initially, the Pasche Institute will offer training seminars for local churches to facilitate ministries for outreach and evangelism among Jewish people.

The educational curriculum will begin this fall with courses in Jewish studies taught by nationally known adjuncts in an intensive format that will attract students beyond the Dallas area. From a Jewish studies concentration under TCC’s Master of Arts in Ministry degree program, the board anticipates the institution of a master’s program wholly dedicated to Jewish ministry.

The Pasche Institute will seek input from the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to identify a candidate for a missionary-in-residence who will teach classes and conduct seminars and research. Eventually, scholarships and a research fellowship will be offered to attract educators, missionaries and students.

Organizers indicated that the Pasche Institute would be fully self-supporting through gifts of individual and institutional donors.

Members of the Board of Advisors for the Institute include Bill Borinstein, minister of men’s ministry at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano; Kay Cherry, a conference speaker on marriage and family from Plano; Michael Deahl, a Dallas attorney; Gary Hedrick, president of a Jewish mission organization, CJF Ministries in San Antonio; Tammi Ledbetter, a freelance writer from Grand Prairie; John Pollard, pastor of Richland Baptist Church of Richardson; Ken Sibley, head of a Dallas accounting firm; and Rod Vestal, minister of missions at Lake Pointe Church of Rockwall.

“This proposal is in keeping with Dr. W. A. Criswell’s abiding love for the Jewish people,” Sibley stated, referring to the founder of TCC and longtime pastor of First Baptist Dallas. “Also, it honors the memory of Albert and Dorothy Pasche’s untiring efforts to reach the Jewish people with the gospel.”

In other business, TCC trustees unanimously:

?voted to reactivate the master of divinity degree program as soon as possible;

?elected four new faculty members, including Joseph Wooddell as assistant professor of philosophy, Denny Burk as assistant professor of New Testament, Everett Berry as assistant professor of theology and Barry Creamer as associate professor of humanities;

?confirmed Mark Overstreet as assistant vice president for development and received a report that the board’s executive committee had confirmed the appointment of Kate Finley as assistant vice president for enrollment services.

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