A MINISTRY OF GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH
Thank you for taking the time to read this short introduction to the John Leland Baptist College. It is intended to provide some initial information about the College. In particular, it discusses the need for a college like John Leland, how the college operates, and how pastors of supporting churches will oversee the affairs of the college. And finally, we trust that you will sense our burden for John Leland College and see just how important and worthwhile this undertaking is for the young people of our Baptist churches.
The Man John Leland
The College was named after a man who reflects the spirit and beliefs of Independent, Sovereign Grace, Landmark Baptist churches. John Leland (1754-1841) held to the Doctrines of Grace and had the missionary zeal of the Apostle Paul. He had no formal ministerial training and, like us today, believed that the only absolute qualification needed for a gospel preacher was the calling of God. However, Leland knew and appreciated the value of study and learning and was no friend to ignorance.
Furthermore, John Leland is well known in American History for his work in the fight for religious freedom. Much of the credit for the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which grants our religious liberty, goes to John Leland. Like many of our Baptist forefathers, he was a true advocate of the separation of church and state even as we are today. Leland was also a strong opponent of slavery in a day when it was not popular to be so. Therefore, it is only fitting to name a college after such a distinguished independent Bible believing Baptist minister and champion of religious freedom and human rights.
The Need of a College for All Our Baptist Young People
What we are attempting to build here at John Leland is a fully accredited four-year college and graduate school that will offer something for all the young people of our Baptist churches. As such, the college will teach courses in subjects other than the Bible and will offer degrees in fields like History and Music. At present, our non-ministerial young people have two options concerning a college education: 1) they can choose a secular college or university with all their evolutionary indoctrination and ungodliness; or 2) they can choose from one of the many Arminian Baptist colleges with all their doctrinal error. While we do share some common ground with our Arminian brethren, they have absolutely no appreciation for the Doctrines of Grace and consider us heretics of the worst kind. Therefore, neither of these alternatives are viable options for our young people wishing to pursue a college education. Presently, I know of no college that holds to our Baptist beliefs which offer any career choices for our non-ministerial young people.
It should be noted that virtually every other denomination, regardless of their size, has at least one fully-accredited college or university for its young people—AND WE HAVE NONE! We desperately need a college where any or all of our young people can go and prepare for the career they believe God is leading them into.
A College To Train Men and Women For the Ministry
We appreciate and support the work of every sound Bible College and Institute, and like them, John Leland will be first and foremost committed to helping young men and women prepare for Christian ministry. However, some of our church schools are limited in the courses they can offer, and many of our young people are interested in more advanced studies in the languages, history, and theology. Presently, there is little to pick from in the way of Graduate Schools and Seminaries. John Leland Baptist College was started to help fill that need.
We firmly believe that pastors and missionaries should be well-grounded in the Word of God. Certainly, every God-called preacher should prepare for the ministry even if it is not in the formal setting of a college classroom, but what better way is there to prepare than in a structured classroom setting under ordained Baptist preachers who have acquired expertise in different areas of the Bible. Our Lord himself set the precedent for formal training by spending three full years preparing twelve men to carry out his work.
Ownership and Operation
Plans for the college began in 2003 under the authority of the Seventh Street Baptist Church in Cannelton, IN and continued under Bethel Baptist Church, Williams, IN. In 2011 the oversight of the college was transferred to the Grace Baptist Church of Georgetown, KY and operates as a mission endeavor of Grace Baptist Church. However, given the nature and work of an institution of higher learning, we believe there is no reason why the college under the authority of Grace Baptist Church cannot operate in conjunction with a governing Board of Trustees composed of the Pastors of financially supporting Baptist churches. These trustees will help oversee and direct the affairs of the college in which Grace Baptist Church will respect the majority opinion of the Trustees in matters such as faculty appointments and curriculum. With modern communication, such as the internet, each trustee can easily share ideas and concerns, discuss important decisions, and manage the affairs of the college from wherever he lives. With this kind of cooperation, we can build and maintain a college that truly reflects the combined wisdom and leadership of our Baptist fellowship and not that of just one man.
John Leland Will Be Our College
The plan outlined above for the operation of John Leland means that the college will really be “our” college and not the temporary work of one man or church. As mentioned above, we have great respect for church schools, but in the past, many of our schools were literally controlled by the whim of one man or one church, and after thousands of (Independent Baptist) dollars were poured into them, the schools were either shut down, taken over by Arminians, or given to another Baptist persuasion. Many of us have financially sacrificed to support these schools in the past only to see the property and assets that our money purchased be given away. This will not happen at John Leland. As long as sound Baptist preachers oversee the affairs of the college, we can maintain the college with doctrinal integrity longer than one man’s ministry.
The Tradition Begins
Currently, the college stationary and other literature carries the motto “The Tradition Begins.” The tradition we will establish at John Leland is a college that offers the highest level of biblical and academic scholarship. God places a very high premium on learning and knowledge—just read the Book of Proverbs, and He is honored through the careful study of his word and even of his creation in Science and Mathematics. There is no other field of study more worthy of our time and energy than the study of God’s word. In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Therefore, we will make no apologies for the rigorous study of the history, languages, and theology of the word of God. No matter what major a student pursues at John Leland he or she will receive an education in and through the Holy Scriptures.
“Let Us Rise Up and Build”
Needless to say, an undertaking as we have presented here can only be accomplished with the cooperative leadership and support of our churches. In chapter three of the Book of Nehemiah, it is recorded that Nehemiah presented to the people his burden to rebuild the gates and walls of Jerusalem, and the Lord used it to convince the very men and women whose help he needed. It is our prayer that the Lord will use this short presentation to convince you of the need of a school like John Leland and that you will join us in our effort to rise up and build a college for all the young people of our Baptist churches.
Will You Join Us and Help?
We are seeking the financial support and help of our sister churches. I ask that you will share this introductory letter about John Leland with other leaders of your church and discuss the possibility of helping us to establish a college for our young people. I would be happy to present the work of the college to your church. Please contact me and arrange a date. Again, I thank you for your time and look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely and in Christ,
William Van Nunen, President
John Leland Baptist College