WTS and IBE Holland Reach Historical Partnership

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

wts225More than 60 students, spouses and faculty gathered for WTS and IBE Holland’s first night of its collaborative partnershipThere was a time when Pentecostal and Reformed Christians didn’t associate with one another very often. It’s a new day, say students and faculty of the Western Theological Seminary (WTS) in Holland and the Instituto Biblico Ebenezer Holland who say their collaborative partnership is historical.

About 30 Latino pastors and lay students associated with Instituto Biblico Ebenezer in Holland (Bible Institute Ebenezer) will gather Monday nights at the Reformed Church in America affiliated Western Theological Seminary to study classes in Bible, evangelism, pastoral care, Christian education and the Bible.

The first night of classes was held Oct. 27, which included a potluck dinner that drew around 60 students and their spouses as well as faculty from IBE Holland and WTS. Introductions were made between the two schools in the seminary’s atrium, then prayers and songs were uttered in Spanish and translated into English. Joy, laughter and good will characterized the first night.

The agreement affords IBE Holland the use of WTS classrooms and office equipment. At this point, only IBE instructors will teach the non-degree non-accredited classes.

IBE Holland is one of 13 sites that is affiliated with the Instituto Biblico Ebenezer, a theological school associated with the Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal in the Midwest (Pentecostal Church of God). Its main campus and headquarters is in Chicago.

Leanne Van Dyk225Leanne Van Dyk, dean and vice president of academic affairs at WTS, welcomes everyone.The pilot agreement goes through May 2015, with an eye on extending it for the next academic year that starts September 2015, and beyond. WTS will not charge IBE any fees, said Leanne Van Dyk, dean and vice president of academic affairs at WTS.

“We’re the ones who are benefiting from these students in our building,” said Van Dyk. “We want to learn more about the Latino Christian community and how we can better serve them. We feel it’s our win because we’re learning and growing in this awareness.”

IBE Holland once meet at a church in Holland but student enrollment forced them to look for larger facilities, according to Gretchen Torres, IBE Holland administrator.

Looking to the future, IBE Holland would eventually like members of the community to know they too can be students of the Bible, said Torres.

“We don’t want to be the boss of one denomination,” said Torres. “This is for everybody.”

The Rev. Garson Moreno said he made the trip from his home state of Illinois to Holland because of the agreement’s significance.

“For us to associate with a theological seminary that’s larger than us, definitely opens more doors,” said Moreno, pastor of the Christian Pentecostal Center in Schaumburg, Ill., and an IBE instructor in church history and administration in Carpentersville, Ill. “It’s going to be a learning relationship with them. It will open doors for the Hispanic community, to a more formal place of study. Western Theological Seminary is going to elevate the students’ experience.”

Many IBE pastors hold another job down to make ends meet, said Moreno, which indicates how serious their intent is to sharpen their Bible and theological studies by enrolling in evening classes.

“It’s a lot of sacrifice to hold down two jobs and to go school,” said Moreno. “But the calling is stronger than anything else. Studying in a place like this can only inspire you.”

Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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