Multiple denominations work together at Horizon College and Seminary

 — Nov. 24, 201824 nov. 2018
By Darlene Polachic, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Horizon College and Seminary in Saskatoon is a prime example of the time-honoured claim that nothing stays the same.

Originally established in Star City, Sask., in 1935 by the Pentecostal denomination as Bethel Bible Institute, the Bible school relocated to Avenue A in Saskatoon in 1937. Following a move to Jackson Avenue in the 1960s, it was renamed Central Pentecostal College. In 2007 it became Horizon College and Seminary.

In 2016, Horizon launched Horizon 8.0 and became a Canadian pioneer in adopting a system of competency-based Christian education.

Horizon president Jeromey Martini explains competency-based education (CBE) as one that bases its teaching curriculum on actual roles in society and then assesses students on their ability to perform those roles.

“We gathered together practitioners and ministry leaders and asked for their input regarding the skills and preparation needed to succeed in Christian ministry,” Martini says. “From that, we formed our curriculum, which addresses six core competencies: Leadership and administration, Biblical theological literacy, ministry development, skilled communication, spiritual maturity, and contextual awareness. Students who come to us blend classroom learning with practical contexts. They have labs, create e-portfolios that showcase their work, and receive industry-standard courses and testing.”

After Horizon launched its competency-based education, it began receiving attention from other denominations who liked the CBE model. Several approached Horizon regarding partnering in training their people for church leadership. This led to exploring how denominational partners could customize Horizon’s curriculum to produce a leadership track applicable to their denomination.

Officially, Horizon College and Seminary has been a Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada training institution, but following the conversations with other denominations, the decision was made to change the model and become a multi-denominational training centre.

Martini says there is a difference between multi-denominational training and inter-denominational training.

“Multi-denominational training is like a wheel with a hub and spokes. Horizon will provide the hub curriculum that serves most evangelical multi-denominational interests, but each partnering denomination will come in and supplement our curriculum with their distinctives. The result will be that someone graduating from Horizon will have received training that has prepared them for service in their denomination. With the multi-denominational model, we can work in partnership to produce quality graduates while still allowing what’s distinctive about a denomination’s identity to remain.”

The first official partnership was signed with the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Abbotsford, B.C. A memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Church of God in Western Canada, and an MOU is currently being finalized with Ambrose University, the Christian and Missionary Alliance institution in Calgary.

Arrangements are nearing completion for the Free Methodists to join the partnership.

“Our hope is to see additional denominations come on board,” Martini says. “Denominational education has become too expensive to do alone, and it’s just not practical.”

Since 2015, more than 40 colleges accredited by the Association of Biblical Higher Education have closed. Among them were three in Saskatchewan — Bethany Bible College, the Church of God school in Moose Jaw and the Church of Christ college in Regina.

“We think partnerships like the one playing out at Horizon College and Seminary are the wave of future,” Martini says. “In the 1900s, autonomy was the thing. Everyone wanted to do their thing on their own. Now, it’s all about collaboration.”

Martini says Horizon already collaborates with other institutions in the Saskatchewan Association of Theological Colleges, “to figure out how we can work together for our mutual benefits and Kingdom good.”

One of the biggest changes for Horizon is coming in 2020 when the institution will move to a brand new, two-storey facility to be built next door to Forest Grove Community Church on Attridge Drive.

In the meantime, the staff of Horizon College and Seminary continues to grow, and Martini says the five new staff who came on-board this fall already represent the cross-denominational perspective.

“Our new collaboration was also in evidence at our Nov. 21 fundraiser where regional leadership from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, the Church of God, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the Mennonite Brethren participated in a panel discussion on collaboration.”

Horizon College and Seminary runs four terms a year and offers undergraduate and master’s level programs. The master’s program is offered in partnership with Providence Seminary in Manitoba.

Martini says Horizon is increasingly seeing second-career students in their 30s and 40s who are looking to shift into Christian leadership roles. The student body draws primarily from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but as a result of the collaboration, will now draw from all the denominational groups represented. Martini expects the enrolment will increase by as much as 200 percent.

Horizon is the only accredited Christian undergraduate theological college in Saskatoon.

For more information, visit the webpage, email info [at] horizon [dot] edu or call 306-374-6655.

Posted: Nov. 24, 2018 • Permanent link:
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