Welch College - Blue image; Welch College | Christian Bible College in Gallatin, Tennessee

By Josh Owens, Director of Media and Marketing

Nashville, TN—With the addition of Welch College’s new Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Theology and Ministry, two employees will be assuming new roles. Dr. Kevin Hester and Dr. Jeff Cockrell have been designated as graduate faculty. Though they will continue to teach on the undergraduate level, their primary responsibilities will be associated with the new M.A. program.

Dr. Kevin Hester, Chairman of the Department of Theological Studies since 2011 and faculty member since 2003, will serve as the Dean of the School of Theology which will house the M.A. He will oversee faculty and curriculum throughout the school on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Thus the Department of Theological Studies will now be known as the School of Theology and will administer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in theological studies.

Dr. Hester came to Welch College in 2003 from a teaching position at Saint Louis University where he also worked in the Reinert Center for Teaching Excellence. A 1993 graduate of Welch College, he holds the M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary (1997) and a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Saint Louis University (2002). Hester had previously served in ministry positions at Free Will Baptist churches in Tennessee and Missouri and worked with Stephen Ministries (St. Louis, MO).

Dr. Hester is a member of the Commission for Theological Integrity of the National Association of Free Will Baptist. He was recently appointed to the Commission on Accreditation of the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Hester is the author of Eschatology and Pain in St. Gregory the Great(2007) and Free Will Baptists and the Priesthood of Believers (2010) as well as numerous scholary and popular articles.

Newly appointed faculty member in New Testament, Dr. Jeff Cockrell, will serve as the Program Coordinator for the M.A. degree in Theology and Ministry. In this capacity, he will be responsible for admissions, recruitment, and supervision of the M.A.

Dr. Cockrell has served as a Free Will Baptist pastor for nearly thirty years in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Most recently he served as senior pastor of Ahoskie Free Will Baptist Church in Ahoskie, NC, which also operates a Christian academy. He has served in a number of denominational posts at the local and state levels and currently serves as a member of the Historical Commission of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Dr. Cockrell holds a Ph.D. in Theology with a concentration in New Testament from the University of Wales Trinity St. David in the UK, an M.A. in New Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a B.S. and M.A.R. from Liberty University. In addition to his pastoral work, he has held adjunct faculty status at a number of institutions, including Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Liberty University, and North Carolina Wesleyan College. He is the author of a number of scholarly and popular articles and papers.

Welch College will be the first Free Will Baptist college to offer a regionally accredited credential on the graduate level. The thirty-three hour M.A. consists of hybrid courses, in which a portion of the coursework is done online and the other portion in one-week, on-campus intensive sessions. Generous financial aid is available, including institutionally funded scholarships and federally guaranteed loans.

There is still time to enroll in the first session, which begins on February 15 and will feature two courses: The Arminian Theological Tradition, taught by Dr. Hester and President Matt Pinson, and Church Growth and Mission, taught by Drs. Barry Raper and Ronald Callaway. The second session begins April 15. Admission to the program is continuous, and students can apply for admission with each new session. For questions or for enrollment information, please email Dr. Jeff Cockrell at jcockrell@welch.edu.

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