by Emily Raley

CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews) – With the addition of the school’s first-ever a Masters level degree program, increased faculty and students who continue to personalize the Great Commission, Truett-McConnell’s World Missions and Christian Studies Division boasts of a banner 2014-15 school year.

“We began our new Master of Arts in Theology program in the fall of 2014 with nearly 20 students enrolled in the program,” said Dr. Jason Graffagnino, Chair of the World Missions and Christian Studies Division.

The program was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACCS-COC) Southern Commission on Colleges and Schools in the spring and has been fully accredited. “We now have the opportunity to offer other masters degrees as we continue to move forward at Truett-McConnell,” Graffagnino shared.

At the start of the fall 2014 semester, the division hired one new Anabaptist scholar, Dr. Mael Disseau who holds his PhD in Systematic Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) and his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We now have four Anabaptist scholars on our faculty, which is more than the six Southern Baptist seminaries combined,” Graffagnino said. Dr. Jeremy Lyon holds his PhD in Old Testament from SWBTS and was also cited as an addition to the division’s teaching faculty.

The student’s impact

World Missions and Christian Studies students are really what make TMC’s program so special, Graffagnino alluded. “One of our World Missions graduating seniors, Meagan Taylor, was named semi-finalist for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup,” he said. Taylor was one of 24 student-athletes in the country named a semi-finalist for the award based on character; athletes of both the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools are eligible for the award.

Two other students spent a portion of their summer in Israel through a program with the University of the Holy Land where they grasped a new appreciation for Scripture as they walked where Jesus walked. Spearheaded by Lyon, Graffagnino shared how the division plans on “developing the relationship between the two schools in order to provide more study and research opportunities for students in Israel.”

Stellar faculty

While teaching students is a priority, the department’s faculty has been heavily involved in research as it relates to their field and four professors have been published in the last year. Dr. Michael Whitlock, Disseau and Graffagnino have all published articles on Anabaptistica in the Southwestern Journal of Theology, and Dr. Ed Pruitt published an article on missions in the New Orleans Journal of Theology.

Scheduled to publish later this fall, Graffagnino contributed a book chapter on the theologian Desiderius Erasmus. Lyon is also co-authoring a book on Young Earth Creationism which is scheduled to publish in 2016.

“All of the World Missions and Christian Studies faculty continue to represent Truett-McConnell well in each of their respective fields of expertise in publications and conference presentation when time and budgets allow,” Graffagnino said.

Continued growth

As Graffagnino looks forward to the upcoming school year, he affirmed his department’s purpose and testified of continued growth: “We want to strive to be increasingly diligent in preparing our students to be effective leaders in whatever areas the Lord calls and places them,” he said. “We desire to see our Master of Arts in Theology program continue to grow and expand, including the course offerings beginning this fall at Alpharetta FBC.”

Speaking to the department’s growth, Graffagnino shared hopes of developing a Master of Missions degree to help equip those called to full-time missions. “We are excited to see how the Lord is moving in our division and throughout our institution,” Graffagnino said. “We are experiencing exciting times at Truett-McConnell indeed.”


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