Course of Study Welcomes Hundreds

By Ken Roach, Director of Communications

August 08, 2023



Global Methodist Church


Course of Study

Wesley Biblical Seminary welcomes hundreds of Global Methodist Course of Study Students

For immediate release.

When fall semester classes start on Aug. 13, 2023, at Wesley Biblical Seminary, they will include over 250 students who have been accepted in the Global Methodist Church Course of Study. The cohort includes students from 28 states. WBS is currently one of five seminaries that have been approved by the newly formed GMC and was the first to offer the Course of Study, an alternative educational path for those seeking ordination that is shorter than the traditional Master of Divinity degree.

“This rapidly increasing enrollment is an indicator that the GMC continues to grow and flourish,” said WBS President Matt Ayars, “and WBS is pleased to be at the forefront of providing theological education to its current and future leaders.”


Answering the Call


Todd Sullivan

GMC COS Student Todd Sullivan

Todd Sullivan of Conroe, Texas is one such future leader. A successful project manager in his 50s, Todd began to sense a call into the ministry last fall. Todd recalls, “I would wake up at night sensing that God was saying to me, ‘Preach my Word!’ Although I resisted and made excuses, as I continued to study the Bible the Holy Spirit kept leading me to write sermons.” Through conversations with a GMC Bishop, Todd was given the opportunity to serve as a pulpit supply preacher. As he continued to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, he discerned that his next step was to sign up for the Course of Study in order to pursue ordination.

When it came time to select a seminary, Todd did his research, comparing costs, delivery platforms, and class offerings. Two things stood out to him about WBS: First, the depth of course offerings. “I want to go through the program quickly,” Todd explains, “so it was important to see that WBS offered all the courses I would need, unlike some who lack that depth.” Second, he was impressed by the steadfast theology of WBS. “This is not a program that minimizes Methodist doctrine, or one where they debate the authority of the Bible,” Todd says. “I found that for almost 50 years, they have been consistently biblical and thoroughly Wesleyan.”


This rapidly increasing enrollment is an indicator that the GMC continues to grow and flourish and WBS is pleased to be at the forefront of providing theological education to its current and future leaders.”

President Matt Ayars


Part of Something New


Nick and Lauren Shepherd

Nick and Lauren Shepherd are new GMC Course of Study students at Wesley Biblical Seminary for the Fall of 2023.

Nick and Lauren Shepherd, both 26, are both Deacon candidates in the South Alabama/Emerald Coast conference of the GMC. Nick serves as the Student Ministry Director and Lauren is the Student Ministry Coordinator and Executive Administrative Assistant at Covenant Methodist Church in Dothan, Alabama, which affiliated with the GMC in May.

Nick began to sense a calling into ministry when he was in Middle School, leading him to attend a Christian college where he met Lauren. Raised as a Baptist, he attended a  seminary in another denomination until the two moved back home to help care for Lauren’s father, and Nick found himself in the Methodist church where Lauren was raised. “I passionately made the jump to my new theological home,” Nick says. He says he sees the life-transforming potential of the Wesleyan theology of sanctification and is excited to attend a school like WBS that shares the same commitments to Arminian-Wesleyan doctrine.

Lauren pursued a master’s in marriage and family counseling, yet found herself uncertain about that path. As she began working on a church staff, she discerned a calling into ministry as well. Although raised as a Methodist, she says she appreciates even more now the GMC’s commitment to the equal calling of men and women into ministry and looks forward to the environment of WBS where women in ministry are welcomed.


Both Nick and Lauren say they are excited to be a part of something new. “As we attended new student orientation,” they say, “you could sense the energy at WBS. Although the seminary has been faithful for almost 50 years, you can tell that God is doing something new there now with all of the changes in Methodism.”


A Growing Movement


The 2023 Course of Study cohort is a diverse group of those seeking ordination in the Global Methodist Church as either Deacons or Elders. Their ages range from 19 to 78, with approximately 30% women and 70% men. While predominantly White, the group includes persons who identify as Black, Asian, and Hispanic. Some have served in some form of Christian ministry for years, while others are responding to a call from God for the first time. The largest groups come from Texas and North Carolina, but the cohort is spread from New Hampshire to California, with one student even hailing from Uganda.


Affordable and Available


WBS is already one of the more affordable schools among those accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, and Course of Study classes are offered at a competitive rate. Since being approved to offer the Course of Study, WBS has announced several scholarship partnerships. The Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation provides 100% of tuition for those in the South Alabama/Emerald Coast Conference of the GMC. Other seminary donors have covered 100% of tuition for students in Mississippi. The school is actively seeking partners to extend these scholarship opportunities to other conferences.

WBS pioneered fully online, poly-synchronous theological education even prior to the pandemic, so its professors are adept at providing high-quality learning in a virtual environment. As a result, the school is able to serve Course of Study students from across the country and around the world without them having to leave their home churches to attend classes.


Here Am I


Todd Sullivan recalls a hymn that God used to begin moving him toward greater Christian service. “Every Sunday we would close by singing, ‘Here Am I, Lord,’” he says, “and I began to ask myself, am I really doing what that song says, or am I just singing the words?” Through the GMC Course of Study at Wesley Biblical Seminary, hundreds are answering the call just like Nick, Lauren, and Todd with the words, “Here am I, Lord—I will go.”


And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Isaiah 6:8

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