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Calvary University Retooling Colorado Operations

Calvary University Retooling Colorado Operations

In order to be faithful stewards CU is forced to reevaluate

In 2017, the Lord, through the wonderful people of Fort Morgan, Colorado, gifted Calvary University with a magnificent 130,000 sq ft facility which was renamed the Calvary University Innovation Center (CUIC). This gift was accompanied by a tremendous outpouring of public support, which CU leaders at the time knew would have to translate into significant student enrollment if the effort there was to be sustainable. The initial plan was to transform the facility into a unique, innovative space where Christian educators, ministries, and the public at large could co-locate, collaborate and hold events. Unfortunately, a year and a half later, the university still can’t get off the starting blocks. As CU quickly pursued and investedin this vision, and despite its unflagging efforts, to include faculty and staff relocation, one key obstacle has stalled sustainable progress: the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CODHE) has still inexplicably delayed in granting CU permission to offer anything but “religious” programs in CO. More than a year ago, CU submitted application to operate in CO as a University. The CODHE only granted approval as a religious entity, meaning that CU could offer its “religious” based programs, but couldn’t operate as a university offering more in-demand degree programs like business and education. Knowing that those two programs in particular were the greatest need and opportunity for student enrollment in the area, CU continued working with the CODHE, rapidly submitting all requested information. Each dutiful submission resulted in requests for more information and, at times, revelation of new submission requirements inexplicably neglected earlier in the process. To CU leaders it has seemed like more than a year of runaround, as the school has not been able to get the simple approval it needs and has easily acquired in other states. “We would have never dreamed we would still be at this stage after a year and a half. It is crippling – we have high quality, in-demand programs, and have had no problem receiving accreditation and reaccreditation with national and regional accreditors.” The process Dr. Bitner, CU’s Chief Academic Officer, referred to is the CODHE’s referral of all submitted materials to a pair of private consultants who review, comment, and recommend. The school is essentially at the mercy of these consultants and their limitations. “It seems clear that the consultants the CODHE outsources are very comfortable with traditional models of education, but seem unfamiliar with multisite and online programs. Perhaps because the latter is the model we are bringing to the table, we have been placed into back and forth process. I am sure these are good folks, but the processes don’t seem to serve the people of Colorado very well.” After almost two years of substantial planning, preparation, and CU investment, university leadership finds themselves at a point where, in order to be faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to them and not hamstring other university operations, they are forced to reevaluate how to proceed in Colorado. Tania Edwards, VP of enrollment management, explained that because of the continued delays and sea of red tape, CU is now two major recruiting cycles behind. This, coupled with the university’s over $2 million investment in the past year and a half demands an urgent change to its model. “Because we have not been able to recruit based on the in-demand programs we offer, we have seen only marginal growth in Colorado-based enrollment—an unsustainable situation. Unfortunately, the CODHE’s disappointing delays deny us the ability to recruit for the very programs that could sustain us. It has been very disappointing that with this high level of personal investment in the state and in Ft Morgan, the state’s agency hasn’t been helpful. It is a remarkably frustrating place to be.” In today’s uncertain and turbulent times, extended delay and indecisiveness in the higher education realm often equates to institutional suicide. Still profoundly grateful for the gift of the property in Fort Morgan, as well as the opportunity to come alongside and ensure the sustainability of Riverview Christian Academy (soon to relaunch as Calvary University Academy), CU is reevaluating how to best steward the property. Accordingly, Dr. Cone is leading a comprehensive reevaluation of the university’s operation in Ft Morgan. “We are completely committed to the people of Fort Morgan and of Colorado. Because to this point we have not been granted the ability to offer our full catalog of programs, we are reevaluating and retooling for long term sustainable efforts in Colorado. This will probably mean shifting our operations into more economical facilities, as we will never come close to covering the cost of operation in the Innovation Center without the state approval to operate as a university.” Cone expects CU to move quickly so as to still be able to serve Coloradans in the long-term. Calvary leaders will be pleading Calvary’s case before the CODHE commission at the next opportunity. “We are looking at ways to have less of a footprint as we move forward, and the partnerships we have formed will be important in that process. We may even be looking at selling the building that houses the Innovation Center. In the short term, we have been forced to consider some uncomfortable decisions.” Nevertheless, while Calvary University has encountered obstacles in Colorado, efforts in the state have still contributed to CU’s award-winning global enrollment growth. Several degree programs can be taken locally at the Innovation Center, including Bible and Theology, Biblical Counseling, Ministry Studies, Pastoral Ministry, Youth Ministry, Intercultural Studies, and Worship Arts. Most other degrees can be taken online or through CU’s main campus in Kansas City.
Calvary University Recognized With #1 Ranked Accredited Online Degree Program

Calvary University Recognized With #1 Ranked Accredited Online Degree Program

BestColleges.com has ranked Calvary University as having the #1 Accredited Online Degree Program for 2019, out of 2,028 eligible schools, just ahead of Regent University and LeTourneau University.

BestCollege’s methodology is “grounded in statistical data and a few consistently applied guiding principles including academic quality, affordability, and online competency.” The ranking considers retention, graduation rate, average net price, overall online offerings, and commitment to providing quality online education.

Calvary University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees on campus or completely online through its unique blended model. Calvary recently launched the PhD in Bible and Theology which also is available either on campus or completely online. Calvary values making its programs accessible to students, with high quality and low cost, and because of that commitment, Calvary is gratified to receive the ranking.

Norm Baker Named 2019 Alumnus of the Year

Norm Baker Named 2019 Alumnus of the Year

“It was all for God’s glory!”

Norm Baker, adjunct faculty member in the Bible and Theology Department, was given the Calvary University (CU) Alumnus of the Year Award at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 11.

“It was all for God’s glory,” said Baker as he accepted the honor.

“You are what we all want to be,” said Dr. Christopher Cone, President of CU. “You have been trustworthy in the classroom, you have taught the word faithfully, and that’s all any of us are after. So, thank you for your example. Thank you for serving the Lord.”

Unfortunately for the students of CU, Baker has decided to retire. However, he will continue to serve the CU community with a pen.

“He has his next assignment,” said Dr. Cone, “which is to write for Calvary University Press and we’re very excited about that.”

CU Press is a new venture being developed this year. Dr. Mike Dodds will be stepping away from his familiar roles as Dean of the College and Department Chair for Ministry Studies, to become the first director of CU Press. He will continue to teach as a Professor of Ministry Studies. Baker has been asked to be a regular contributor to CU Press.

Baker was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1950. Soon after, his family moved across the country to upstate New York. As a young boy he enjoyed riding on trains with his father and grandfather who worked for the New York Central Railroad. His uncle owned a Christian book store, and Baker enjoyed browsing while having a popsicle. He speculates that this is where he first developed a love for books.

After his family moved to Aurora, Colorado, a few year later, Baker attended Aurora Central High School. His sister started going to the youth group at Aurora Bible Church. When she told him some cute girls were there, he decided to go with her. It was there that Baker heard the gospel message preached and received Christ as his personal Savior. Shortly after that, his parents rededicated their lives to Christ, and the Bakers started attending church as a family.

While in high school, Baker often heard evangelists and missionaries speak of the need to reach the lost for Christ. He dedicated his life to serve wherever God called him. His teachers encouraged him to go into an acting career because he loved drama. However, Baker sensed God leading him in a different direction, and after graduating from high school in 1967, he went to Frontier School of the Bible to prepare for overseas ministry.

During his time at Frontier, Baker heard about the work in Africa from missionaries with Gospel Missionary Union (now Avant Ministries). In 1971, he was accepted as a missionary with GMU to go to Mali, West Africa. During the missionary candidate training he met his future wife, Mary Alice, and they were married on September 18, 1971.

After raising support, they left for Switzerland to study French in April 1972 and then headed to Mali in July 1973. The next couple of years were spent learning the Bambara language and the culture. Baker particularly enjoyed hearing the Malian proverbs and stories that had been passed down verbally for many generations. He quickly developed a love and deep respect for the Bambara people.

Norm and Mary Alice served with Gospel Missionary Union for fifteen years. They raised their family of three sons and one daughter while living in the bush. Baker helped with church planting and discipleship training. He translated discipleship materials and assisted with a new revision of the Bambara Bible. During their last few years in Mali, Baker taught at the Mana Bible Institute, training Malian pastors and church leaders.

In 1986, Baker received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Calvary Bible College (CBC). He then served as the Missionary in Residence there from 1986 to 1987. He became the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church where he served from 1987 to 1991. During that time Baker received his Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Theological Seminary. The Baker family then moved to Dallas, Texas, where Norm attended Dallas Theological Seminary and graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1998. He also became the pastor of Stanley Bible Church in Overland Park, Kansas, in 1998, where he served for ten years.

In addition to pastoring, Baker taught Bible & Theology classes at Calvary from 2001 to 2005. He returned as an adjunct professor in January 2012, a total of twelve and a half years of service at Calvary. He has also enjoyed supporting CU’s theatre department as well as attending athletic events.

On the CU campus, Baker is fondly referred to as “Stormin’ Norman.” His love for studying and teaching the Word of God has been his life-long passion. He has had a sincere love for his students, as evidenced in his one-on-one interactions with them as he continues to disciple and prepare others for ministry. And, his students have returned that love. At Baker’s retirement party, student after student shared how much he has influenced their lives.

“Each one of these students,” Baker said, “helped me be a better teacher by their attitude in the classroom. That’s all I can say.”

The Alumnus of the Year award is given annually to a CU graduate who has shown faithfulness in ministry and has maintained a strong connection with the school in the years since graduation.

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Special thanks to Sara Klassen for compiling the biographical data for this article.

The Alumni of the Year Award was presented to Norm Baker at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 11. The award is given annually to a CU graduate who has shown faithfulness in ministry and has maintained a strong connection with the school in the years since graduation.

Norm Baker (top right) played a part in the 2018 Calvary University theatre production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Baker has enjoyed supporting the CU theatre department and attending athletic events in addition to his service in Calvary classrooms. 

“It was all for God’s glory,” said Norm Baker as he accepted the Alumni of the Year Award at the 2019 Commencement ceremony on May 11. 

Torah Scroll Given to Calvary University

Torah Scroll Given to Calvary University

Dr. Teddy Bitner, Chief Academic Officer of Calvary University (far left), and Dr. Gary Gromacki, Director of the PhD Program in Bible and Theology at CU (far right), holding the Torah scroll gifted to CU by Ken & Barb Larson (middle) of God’s Ancient Library, based in Minneapolis, MN. 

Pasul Torah scroll given to Calvary University by Ken and Barb Larson and God’s Ancient Library

On April 10, 2019, Dr. Teddy Bitner and Dr. Gary Gromacki from Calvary University received the gift of a pasul Torah scroll from Ken and Barb Larson and God’s Ancient Library. The word pasul means that the Torah is disqualified for use in the synagogue.

The Torah scroll is identified as written by Ashkenazi Jews which originated from Eastern Europe around 1900. It survived the Holocaust along with the Jews who brought it to Israel.

A blue stamp on the back of the last Deuteronomy panel discovered by Dr. Gromacki indicates that the Torah may have gone to Kiryat Shmonah (a town in northern Israel next to the Lebanon border). From there the Torah scroll went to the house of ben David in Jerusalem.

The scroll was purchased by Ken and Barb Larson and brought to the United States, and is now located at Calvary University in Kansas City.

Dr. Scott Carroll of the Manuscript Research Group gave several lectures about the Torah in Minneapolis, MN, during the gifting event.

Each Torah is written in unpointed Hebrew letters by a sofer on kosher animal skins (like calf or goat).  The sofer uses a quill from a kosher bird (either goose or turkey) and writes with black ink made from a special recipe.

There are 304,805 letters in a Torah. None of the Hebrew letters are permitted to touch. The words of every Torah are identical because they are copied exactly. Elongated Hebrew letters are used to justify the left margins in the columns.

Some stylistic ways of writing Hebrew in the Torah are found in the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15), the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4), the curses read from Mt. Ebal (Deuteronomy 27), and the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32).

The Torah given to CU is 97 feet long and 19 and a half inches high. It contains 52 panels with 196 columns. It was written by two individuals as indicated by a change of hand found at Leviticus 10:16b. The Torah will be used to help students learn Biblical Hebrew.

Other schools that received a gift of a Torah from the Larsons included: Cedarville University, Midwestern Seminary and Kuyper College.

The Torah scroll donated to CU last week was written by Ashkenazi Jews which originated from Eastern Europe around 1900. The Torah scroll survived the Holocaust along with the Jews who brought it to Israel.

Dr. Gary Gromacki, Director of the PhD Program in Bible and Theology at Calvary University, with Dr. Scott Carroll of the Manuscript Research Group. Dr. Carroll gave several lectures about the Torah during a Torah gifting event in Minneapolis, MN, last week. 

Drs. Teddy Bitner and Gary Gromacki, of Calvary University, examined several Torah scrolls last week when they traveled to Minneapolis, MN, to receive one of those scrolls as a gift to be housed permanently at CU. 

Calvary students got a first look at the scroll in the Bible and Theology assembly this week with Dr. Gary Gromacki, Director of the PhD Program in Bible and Theology at Calvary University. Dr. Gromacki said, “This scroll will not just sit in a glass case somewhere. It will be used to help students learn Biblical Hebrew.”

The Torah is written in unpointed Hebrew letters by a sofer on kosher animal skins (like calf or goat).  The sofer uses a quill from a kosher bird (either goose or turkey) and writes with black ink made from a special recipe.

Calvary University and Word of Life Bible Institute Announce Partnership

Calvary University and Word of Life Bible Institute Announce Partnership

SCHROON LAKE, NY – March 4, 2019 – Calvary University President, Dr. Christopher Cone, and Word of Life Bible Institute President, Roger Peace, announced a sweeping partnership between the two institutions, designed to strengthen both schools and provide significant benefits to students, staff and faculty, and alumni of both institutions. The partnership is crafted to provide a platform of collaboration and sharing between CU and WOLBI, as the schools move toward developing collaborative programs, shared access to campus facilities to enable both schools to broaden their reach, and cross-pollination and sharing of faculty.

The agreement includes significant tuition scholarships for Word of Life two-year program graduates who wish to continue their education through one of Calvary University’s four-year programs, and exchanges scholarships for staff and faculty of each school to attend the other. The agreement also benefits alumni of each school, allowing CU graduates scholarshipped access to Word of Life’s camp facilities, and WOLBI graduates scholarshipped access to educational programs at CU.

Peace and Cone formally announced the partnership to the student body of 370 while Cone had been teaching (the Book of Revelation) at the Word of Life campus in Schroon Lake. The announcement was met with excitement as students appreciated how the agreement would open doors for them to continue their preparation and schooling. Cone said he was “thankful to be working closely with such a likeminded and similarly-missioned group,” additionally noting that, “God continues to use Word of Life mightily in the lives of so many, and it will be a joy to see how God uses this partnership to improve how both schools serve and prepare students.” Peace, who will be speaking in the Spring at Calvary’s main campus in Kansas City, said, “the partnership builds on our commitment to prepare this generation in reaching their generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and “as we move forward together, this partnership provides students an opportunity to prepare for future in a significant way.

Calvary University is an independent private, regionally accredited and nationally accredited university focused on “preparing Christians to live and serve in the church and in the world according to the Biblical worldview. Calvary offers a broad range of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and a doctoral program (Ph.D in Bible and Theology). Most of Calvary’s programs can be taken on campus or online.

Word of Life Bible Institute is fully accredited, and the mission is to educate each student within a rigorous academic and structured discipleship atmosphere, preparing him or her to live a life of maximum effectiveness for the Lord. The main campus is in Schroon Lake, NY, and teaching sites are located in Hudson, FL., and additional sites internationally.

For more information about the partnership, contact president@calvary.edu or president@wol.org To inquire about admissions to Calvary University, contact admissions@calvary.edu (Kansas City), co.admissions@calvary.edu (Fort Morgan, CO). To inquire about admissions to Word of Life, contact admissions@wol.org.

For more information go to: https://www.calvary.edu/wolbi/

Click here for the details and to read more about the benefits of this partnership.