A letter was written to the representative of the Free Methodists on April 30, 1997 regarding two projects that the sender has discussed with Dr. Ralph Winter. The writer invites Winter to proofread this draft and to make corrections and suggestions for the next one. The subject is Theological Education by Extension (TEE). The writer begins by saying that Dr. Winter, one of three pioneers of TEE (alongside Jim Emery and Ross Kinsler), believes it is time to reinvent the concept. After it was created 30 years before, it thrived and reached 100,000 students until people understood that it was not occurring in the United States. Winter notes, “But now US universities have been forced by economics into extension centers and distance learning. So we have another chance to offer quality field-based education to the 80,000 who will never attend a residential university.”
The sender goes on to mention that Winter has developed two new field-based programs at William Carey International Univeristy (WCIU) in Pasadena, CA. One leads to a Bachelor of Arts and the other to a Master of Arts. These liberal arts courses provide students with a Christian perspective on history, science, philosophy, and literature. They have the Bible at the center and equip students to exegete and apply the Scriptures. Dr. Winter has offered the current professor of Christian Thought and History at Spring Arbor College the opportunity to join the staff at WCIU and “work with Free Methodist missionaries around the world to adapt these programs for their use and to help Free Methodist educational programs become models for other denominations.” The present president of WCIU will have a role like this one with the Southern Baptists starting in September of this year.
There are five goals that the Free Methodist professor hopes to accomplish through this project.
- Recruit three Free Methodist academic leaders to enroll in WCIU’s field-based Ph.D. program.
- Introduce the modular course, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, to Free Methodist institutions who offer Bachelor’s degrees in order to raise missions awareness and sophistication. This course already has 30,000 alumni in the US.
- Train one leader per institution to continue to teach the Perspectives.
- Analyze the effectiveness and needs of current Free Methodist theological schools and extension programs, and determine in what capacity WCIU could serve them.
- Increase enrollment in Free Methodist theological education by 5% by way of more effective use of extension education.