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10 Days of Advent Devotions

At Richmont, we equip students to advance God’s work of healing, restoring and transforming the lives of individuals, churches and communities. To this end, we welcome the season of Advent as we eagerly look back at the birth of Christ. 

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” It is a season of preparation and expectation for the birth of God into the world.

To help in this preparation, we have compiled devotions from professors, staff members, students and alumni. For ten days leading up to Christmas, this devotional walks you through the ways the Messiah sustains and gives life. 



Jesus the meekest of Kings! 

Dec. 23

Day 10

By Dr. Timothy Quinnan, President of Richmont Graduate University

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days … And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:2,4 ESV) 

While there may be more stirring passages in Scripture, this is the one that speaks the most deeply to me each Christmas season. By ancient accounts, Bethlehem seems to have been an obscure place, inconsequential in comparison to the larger and more prominent cities in Judea. Yet Our Savior chose to enter the world here rather than a princely palace in some grand capital city.  

To fulfill the prophecy from Micah, Jesus decided to be born in the small town of Bethlehem, in a stable, and laid in a manger from which barn animals had fed. The God of All Creation, Lord of the heavenly hosts, and King of kings, personified humility in where and how he came to earth. These humblest of origins also foreshadowed the life he would lead- to call not the ruling classes but the common man and woman to be his followers.  

In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd.  The shepherd knows his sheep by name and willingly lays down his life for his sheep.  In the strength of the Lord (as referenced in Micah), Jesus modeled great leadership through shepherding his followers. 

In Christ there is a perfect contradiction:  an all-powerful God who voluntarily abases Himself for our redemption. Christ comes to us in an otherwise forgettable town, when his parents cannot even find room at an inn, is born in a stable, and eventually takes on the meek but spiritually meaningful role of a shepherd.  This paradox is the true beauty of the Christmas story.  For God so loved the world that he sent his Son, and he sent him in a way that reveals his heart and his character.   

It may be difficult for us understand as power and humility rarely coexist in our society or leaders today. But we might reflect on 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  If ever you feel forgotten, tiny or insignificant, remember that God often uses humility to reveal His greater purpose.   

This Christmas, let us feel the joy of Jesus the Meekest of Kings who knows us by name, who laid Himself down for our salvation, and whose greatness reaches to the ends of the earth and beyond. 



Jesus is Unchanging 

Dec. 22

Day 9

Dr. Jama White, Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs 

“For I, the Lord, do not change.” (Malachi 3:6, NAS)

I received my most meaningful Christmas present a few years ago from my brother, who is a librarian and a bit of a historian. A couple of months before Christmas he asked me for my favorite Scripture verses, so I was curious as to his gift for me. On Christmas morning that year, I opened a small, carefully wrapped folder holding a single page from a Bible that contained one of my selected verses. The page had been printed in 1651. 

As I sat and pondered the fragile page that Christmas morning and many times since, I am moved by thoughts of all the others who have held that very same piece of vellum over the last 400 years. I will never know their stories, perhaps a colonial settler, perhaps a sister who lost a brother in the Civil War, perhaps a father struggling to feed his family during the Great Depression, perhaps an immigrant looking for an opportunity in a new land. Wherever or whoever these persons were, the God they saw on that page and the rest of the pages of His Word was the same for every one of them. And He is the same for all of us.     

In all our circumstances, geographic locations, and emotional states, God has remained the same for every one of us through all centuries. 

He has never wavered in His Person or Promise to any of us. Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. No matter the century, following His way is healing to our souls. Even though circumstances in our world are ever-shifting and our responses flower and fade, He still stands. He still hears. He still forgives. He still comforts. He still provides. He still searches us out. He still redeems. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Thanks be to God!! 



Jesus Gives Us a Fresh Start 

Dec. 21

Day 8

Dr. Sonja Sutherland, Assistant Dean of the School of Counseling

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5, NRSV) 

 The church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this way, as believers, we remain in the tremendous hope of seeing “all things new” when we are with Christ, and we are like him. We will be made perfect. This is our glorious future.  

But what of our understanding of His “making all things new” today, when it seems that life’s mountaintops are sometimes fleeting, and life’s valleys dark and endless? For many, even in the Christmas season, hope is a nebulous thing that we see dimly, as though it is slipping through our fingers. There is a struggle to truly remain in hope during life’s ongoing struggles, remembering that his promise to make “all things new” is “trustworthy and true,” not just for tomorrow, but for today. 

To remain in hope is a choice we make, to refuse to let our circumstances control our thoughts, moods, behaviors, and relationships. Hopefulness empowers us. It encourages us to continue to work through to find new understanding, and when there is not understanding, new faith. It propels us through to victorious living, even in the midst of our circumstances. Despite what you see around you, in your life or in the lives of others, remain in hopeLive there. You will see, that in this Christmas season, in the coming year, he is, “making all things new.” 



Jesus Heals Us 

Dec. 20

Day 7

By Steve Bradshaw, Dean of the School of Counseling 

By his wounds you are healed (1 Peter 2:24, NLT).

Jehovah Rapha means, “the Lord that heals.”

Someone once said, “Pain in life is inevitable; misery is optional.” We all are touched by the fallenness of this world. Trying to make it Eden again will make you miserable, give you an anxiety disorder, or both. Unfortunately, we often turn our pain into misery by responding to circumstances in our flesh instead of trusting His grace. 

Yet Jesus is our healer. In fact, over 73 verses in the Bible refer to some form of healing. Jesus, first of all, is the healer of our physical pain. In Proverbs 3:7-8, we are instructed to turn from evil and fear the Lord, to find healing for our bodies and strength in our bones. Moreover, Jesus heals our very souls, offering spiritual wholeness and forgiveness of sin. 

Interestingly, in the Gospels, Jesus never assumed what type of healing another person wanted; He always asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer to that question revealed the state of the person’s heart before the Lord. Even most of the physical healing He performed was followed by the phrase, “Your faith has healed you,” pointing to the importance of belief in the healing process. 

May you allow the healer of your soul to collide with your life and circumstances for Him to perform His healing work in your life this Advent season.


Jesus Holds Us Together 

 Dec. 19

Day 6

By Dr. Vanessa Snyder, Richmont Institute of Trauma & Recovery Vice President

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17, HCSB)

The Christmas season brings a flurry of activity and intensity that can be overwhelming. As many join in the holiday spirit with joy and excitement, others are reminded of pain and loss that becomes vivid in the sparkle of Christmas lights. For these, the celebration of the Savior’s birth bows to loneliness and suffering. 

Although His human entrance into the world was a manger in the small town of Bethlehem, Jesus, the great I AM, the firstborn over all creation, created all things. In this magnificent creation, He used himself as the single source of cohesion to unite and bind our complex physical, mental, and spiritual being. In the most literal sense, without him, we come undone. John speaks to Christ’s sustaining force: “… apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created” (John 1:3, HCSB).  

In the ultimate example of both humility and power, meekness and majesty, the mighty force that binds our cells together stepped into a four-dimensional world to tend to His sheep. Jesus knew us as He knitted us together. He could share in our suffering because He is in every part of it as He is the power that holds us together. But He chose also to enter into it, our humanness, and allow himself to experience it as we do. He became a man of sorrow, one who fully understood pain and loss. And now, He is the one who holds us together in ours, as He is able to fully empathize, as well as give hope. The King was before all things. The King was born. The King died. The King rose. The King now reigns and promises us forever with Him as He continues to hold us together. 



Jesus Cries with Us 

Dec. 18

Day 5

By Dr. Amanda M. Blackburn, Dean of Students

“Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then, Jesus wept. (John 11:34, 35, NLT) 

Who likes waiting? During times of waiting, I am often reminded of the ways I wish things were different and my helplessness to shorten my wait. 

I imagine Mary and Martha felt that as they waited for Jesus to arrive following the death of their brother Lazarus. Their brother had been ill, and they had hoped their friend Jesus would save his life. Instead, Jesus arrives four entire days after Lazarus’s death. As Jesus finally arrives, one sister questioned Jesus as to his delay, and Scripture tells us that Jesus was deeply moved. Immediately after they invited Jesus to come see the body, we read that Jesus wept. With both his anger and tears, Jesus fully and mercifully embodies his humanity through his capacity and willingness to be fully engaged with his emotions.  

Jesus mourns with us. While he mourns, he also promised that we will be comforted in our own mourning (Matthew 5:4). The God who cries with his friends is also the one who brings new life. 

Advent is a season of waiting, longing, and anticipating that things will be made right. The inherent tension in waiting is this: We can grieve that this world is not as it should be, while remaining fully aware of the power and divinity of God. While this process is fraught with difficulty, it is my favorite aspect of Christmas. It reminds me of my part in the larger story, when a little baby comes to save the world. This advent season, I invite you to come to Jesus with your tears, knowing the God of all comfort is making all things new. 

 You who weep, come to this God, for he weeps. 

You who suffer, come to him, for he cures. 

You who tremble, come to him, for he smiles. 

You who pass [in death], come to him, for he remains.  

(Victor Hugo, 1847) 



  Jesus Offers More Abundant Life 

Dec. 17

Day 4

By Dr. Mike Stewart, Adjunct Professor School of Ministry 

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10, NIV) 

When my youngest son was two years old, he decided he was quite old enough to fill his own glass with milk. Taking the large gallon jug from the refrigerator, he managed to carry it over to the kitchen table, open the cap, and, after struggling a bit with the weight of the bottle, pour the milk into the glass. Of course, getting started was the easiest part: now the weight had shifted, and the milk filled the glass, the kitchen table, and even splashed onto the floor. He had just about emptied the entire gallon of milk, to which he proclaimed, with a sense of accomplishment, “I did it!” Yes, he had filled his glass and much more.  

Jesus speaks the words in John 10:10 as a counterpoint to the destructive power of the enemy of our souls. He reminds us that the chief aim of that destructive force is to kill, steal, or destroy life. The motive may be disguised, and sometimes even inviting, but the end is clear. There are many thieves who wish to rob us of the life we have been given in Christ. 

Jesus offers abundant life. He gives life to the fullest. Literally, Jesus says I have come to give you life with a surplus. In a world of complex and changing values, believers have this wonderful assurance that our life is not subject to the winds of times. Jesus gives us a full and abundant life of safety, subsistence, and significance. This assurance allows us to live in freedom and joy, knowing that Jesus is our life. 

I can just imagine, Jesus pouring His life over us, much like my son. He pours and pours life into us every day until it is overflowing. Maybe He also steps back with a sense of accomplishment and says, “I did it!” 



Jesus Delights in Us 

Dec. 16

Day 3

By Elesa Bentsen, School of Ministry Graduate

“The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NRSV) 

As we prepare for Christmas and sing our favorite songs, reminding us of the joy of the season and encouraging us to rejoice, why do we so often feel weighed down by the demands of the holidays on top of the normal pressures of life? It is way too easy to focus on what remains to be done and to be distracted, trying to find the elusive perfect gift. Our life begins to feel like a hamster-wheel race with no end in sight and no winner. We wonder when we will finally get off and rest.   

All the while that we are wearily racing around, God is in our midst, inviting us to join the celebration of his love for us and to remember we are not alone. He offers us the gift of presence, Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus. How often we stumble on our unworthiness to receive this gift of divine presence and fail to hear and experience the joyful sounds of Jesus delighting over us like a new bridegroom with gladness and singing. What would it be like to quit trying so hard to earn God’s approval and begin to relax into his loving arms? If we believe he gives us victory, could we relax in his strong arms instead of working so hard to save ourselves and make our lives work? What would it be like to enter his presence where there is fullness of joy and to discover that he is rejoicing over us… that he actually delights in us and enjoys us? 



Jesus Comforts Us

Dec. 15

Day 2

By Dr. Mary Plisco, School of Counseling Assistant Professor

“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone, and her sins are pardoned.” (Isaiah 40:1, 2, NLT) 

I remember it so vividly during a period of significant sorrow. I was feeling overwhelmed with sadness and helplessness. I walked into church, and just the smell of it started to help me feel better. The peace and quiet of the building, the stained glass windows, and the wooden pews all invited me to sit and be still. But what was most comforting was the crucifix behind the altar – I could feel Jesus’s opening arms embrace me and provide solace. I could sense His reassurance that everything would be okay, that He knew my worries and my concerns, and that they would not go unheard. What a gift to know that God is a comforting God, the perfect listener who understands all that we feel and experience. 

 During this Advent season, we pray in thanksgiving for God’s presence and embrace, and we are reminded of our calling to provide comfort to all. 



Jesus is God 

Dec. 14

Day 1 

By Dr. Keny Felix, School of Counseling Adjunct Professor

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30, NIV) 

To think that the God of the universe would step into history and take the form of a servant was unimaginable to many individuals Jesus encountered. Fast-forward 2000 years and questions about Jesus’ identity remain. Could he be the Messiah? Could he be the Christ?  

The thought of Jesus being God was considered blasphemy as he walked the dusty, busy streets of Jerusalem. Yet his response when questioned was simply, “I and the Father are one.” It was a statement that almost prematurely cost him his life. In that very moment, his opponents picked up rocks to stone him, foreshadowing what was to come. How dare he? How could he make such a claim? 

But how could he not? He was God, stepping into history. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodThe Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1:1,14, NIV). Yes, the very God who created the moon, the mountains, and humanity moved into the neighborhood. 

But why didn’t they recognize him? Perhaps Jesus’ brief biography from the Apostle Paul can help us understand. Speaking of Jesus, he wrote: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8, NIV). Wow! So the Father through the Son in the form of a servant entered our world, dwelled among us, and eventually gave up his life on our behalf? Who else could we be waiting for? What greater demonstration of love could there be?  

Thank you, Father.



 

 What If Jesus Never Came? 

Dec. 13

A Preface by Dr. Larry Crabb,  School of Counseling Adjunct Professor

Advent, the coming of Christ to this world, into the clutter that we created, is cause for both celebration and challenge. It is an opportunity to throw a party and a call to walk a narrow road.  

Jesus once told would-be disciples to “count the cost” before committing themselves to follow Him. Apparently, he wanted resolute followers, not fickle fans. The thought occurs to me: Did Jesus count the cost required to reveal His Father’s love for self-centered rebels, before He became an unborn child in Mary’s womb knowing He was on His way to a miserable death? 

Romanian pastor Josef Ton has written a provocative study of both the cost Jesus paid to win our eternal happiness and the cost his disciples must pay to make the Father’s love visible to blind prodigals. In his introduction, Ton writes, “… God always conquers by a love that is self-giving and self-sacrificing.” His book, Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven, is a deeply personal and exhaustive study of the cost-reward dynamic in the Christian life. 

Had Jesus not been willing to count the cost of rejection, persecution and crucifixion, the trinity would have forever continued to live in perfect community without us. Our eternal existence would then have been defined by unbearable loneliness in a world without relationships. The famed Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once wrote that hell is the suffering of being unable to love. Imagine living forever without being loved and never able to love.   

Of course, Christ’s not coming to earth would have been unthinkable to our loving Lord; it was never an option. Divine love, the passion that is committed to another’s well-being at any cost to oneself, would do nothing less than provide us with a purposeful life of deeply rooted joy in this world and, in the next world, the happiness of perfect love received and given. 

But hear Ton again: He speaks of “God’s method of sending His Lamb into the world, followed by many thousands of other lambs, to overcome the world by proclaiming the love of God and by dying for the sake of their proclamation.” 

We must never think of our Lord’s advent as nothing more than something inexpressibly wonderful for us. It is that, but it is so much more. Christ’s cost-counting advent is an invitation to us, a call to make known the nature of divine love by relating to others with a commitment to their wellbeing at any cost to ourselves. 

Can we do it? Of course. We are participants in the divine nature of suffering, self-sacrificing love (see 2 Peter 1: 4). May advent season draw us to become little Christs, little lambs who count the cost of following Jesus. The cost is great. The gain is greater–and lasts forever. Jesus counted the cost and paid it. 

It’s my prayer, and the prayer of everyone who has written Richmont’s Advent meditations, that our thoughts about the stunning truth that Jesus did come will lighten you with hope and center you in the wonder of divine love received and the privilege of divine love given.  

Q&A with Dr. Rice: How to discern your calling

Dr. Josh Rice

Does God still call people? Is this calling just for church work?

What are you called to do? And how would you know?

Dr. Josh Rice is the Dean of the School of Ministry for Richmont Graduate University. He has spent his life walking the tightrope between pastoring a church, executive leadership and academia. All of these stations have been avenues for ministry.

“American Christians have separated the sacred and the secular to our detriment,” Dr. Rice said. “The Protestant Reformation renewed interest in the Biblical idea of the ‘priesthood of all believers.’ I believe we live out our priesthood in our vocations–whether as a garbage collector, a lawyer or as a pastor.”

We recently sat down with Dr. Rice to gain a better understanding of Christian vocation. In seven concise answers, he briefly illuminates the idea of calling in the everyday lives of believers.

What is a “calling”?

Calling might also be defined as Christian vocation. It includes elements of one’s profession, of course, but also of the giftedness of each person to uniquely accomplish God’s work in the world.

How might someone determine what his or her calling is?

I believe that we listen to God in many ways. One way, in the words of Frederich Buechner, is to “listen to your life.” When we truly contemplate our unique history, experience, personality and mix of strengths, God begins to make our vocation clearer over time.

Are there practical steps a person might take to discern their calling?

Meeting with a spiritual director is an immediate practical step that can help a person discern the voice of God. Participating in a spiritual gifts test alongside a personality profile may also be helpful.

Is calling just limited to church work?

Emphatically, no! As we celebrate the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, we must re-energize Luther’s call for “the priesthood of all believers.” There is a “traditional” call for ministry. Others, however, have been called to serve and bring the Kingdom to the marketplace.

For instance, there are marketplace leaders from the business world in our Masters in Ministry program. They learn how to use their business acumen to minister through a 9-to-5 context

Why should we care about the idea of calling and vocation?

Younger generations especially want to get involved in living out their faith in the public sphere, not just the private. Christian vocation is the unique theological category that can help an individual to embrace this path holistically.

Which books or essays might you recommend delving into this topic further?

A few that have meant a lot to me are Terry Cross, Answering the Call in the Spirit, and The New Reformation by Greg Ogden. However, one need only look to the literature of the Reformation and the Ignatian exercises to discern much!

How does Richmont’s Masters of Arts in Ministry or Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepare students to live/workout their calling?

The Masters in Ministry truly prepares individuals either for vocational ministry in a local church or Christian nonprofit, or leads to a Doctorate of Ministry for those already practicing. The Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction prepares students to help future clients or church members to discern their own callings.

The Masters in Ministry and the Masters in Spiritual Formation and Direction bring clarity to your call to help others. Contact Richmont today and begin your journey.

Board of Trustees Appoints Interim President

Dr. Vanessa Snyder Appointed Interim President at Richmont

After extensive prayer and careful consideration, the Board of Trustees of Richmont Graduate University is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Vanessa Snyder as Interim President of the University. As a Richmont alumnus, experienced counselor, and accomplished professor, Dr. Snyder brings a wealth of experience and passion to this important post.

 Dr. Snyder will begin transitioning to the position immediately and will officially take over the role January 3, 2017.  Our current president, Bob Rodgers, has committed to work together with Dr. Snyder over the next several weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

 The Board of Trustees will continue the search for the next president of Richmont with the goal of naming a new president by fall of 2017.  Interim positions will be announced soon for filling Dr. Snyder’s current role as Dean of Clinical Affairs, as she will return to this position once a new president is named.  During this time of transition, Bob and Vanessa will be available for any questions or concerns you may have.

 The Board is excited about the recent growth and impact of Richmont Graduate University. We are committed to ensuring the University remains a leader in the education and training of professional counselors and ministers and to maintaining the unique Richmont environment as a place of healing, restoration, and transformation.

For a full biography of Dr. Snyder, visit: http://www.richmont.edu/dr-vanessa-snyder/

Dr. Mike Stewart Named Dean of the School of Ministry

CHATTANOOGA, TN & ATLANTA, GA – (July 9, 2014)

It is with great pleasure that Dr. Michael (Mike) Stewart is officially announced as the new Dean of the School of Ministry. The Founding Dean of Richmont’s School of Ministry, Dr. Leland Eliason, graciously took a sabbatical from retirement to commit five years to establishing the School and the certificate programs. In his tenure, the School was incepted, fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), began offering coursework online, hosted internationally renowned author and pastor, John Ortberg, Jr. for a two-day conference, and launched the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program.

“At the end of the final integrative seminar for the School of Ministry’s first graduating class, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude,” said Eliason. “Every one of the graduates spoke of how the degree program had been used of God to transform their lives. They referred to the outstanding quality of the teachers, the power of community, and to the threefold emphasis of knowing, being, and doing. The curriculum we have worked so hard to create – works! It has been an extraordinary privilege to be part of creating and implementing this degree program.”

“We could not be more grateful to Leland for all he has given to lay a foundation for the School of Ministry,” said Richmont’s President, Bob Rodgers. “We are thrilled that he will continue training future ministers and that someone as capable and qualified as Dr. Stewart will take up the reigns of leadership. This is an incredibly exciting time in the life of the university and we look forward to seeing many more students receive training to serve God and others.”

Dr. Stewart will begin leading the School of Ministry in a full time capacity on August 1, 2014 from the university’s Atlanta, Georgia campus. This will allow Eliason to transition to a teaching and advising capacity within the School.

Previously the President of Emmanuel College, Stewart led an unprecedented nine-year season of growth which included more than $20 million raised in funds. He also oversaw the building of new student housing, the addition of nine new athletic programs, an athletic center, seven new academic programs, as well as full membership into the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. Interestingly, Stewart was not only the President of Emmanuel, but he completed his Bachelor’s degree there prior to completing his Master’s degree at Liberty University and Doctor of Ministry degree at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

“Dr. Mike Stewart’s presidency of Emmanuel College has been characterized by courage, authenticity and breakthroughs,” said Eliason. “Those are the qualities that are needed for leading the School of Ministry to its next levels of growth. He lives by the values imbedded in the School of Ministry – the integration of faith and learning, integrity, and innovation. I am very excited about his capacities to enable the School of Ministry to fulfill its purposes to advance God’s kingdom, to enrich the body of Christ, and to equip Christians to offer transformational ministry.”

“I am very much looking forward to joining the team at Richmont,” said Stewart. “The School of Ministry fills an incredibly important niche in serving today’s churches and Christian ministries. I am grateful for the opportunity to follow in Dr. Eliason’s footsteps as the School only grows in influence.”

The university looks forward to welcoming Stewart and his wife, Pam, to campus this summer.

Richmont to Offer a Certificate in Spiritual Direction

ATLANTA, GA – (June 4, 2014)

This fall, Richmont Graduate University’s School of Ministry will begin offering a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Through this 15 month, 4 consecutive semester program students will learn to help others discern the active presence of the Triune God and perceive the Holy Spirit’s movement in ordinary life. Throughout the curriculum of five 3-credit hour courses, spiritual directors will journey with directees, assisting as they deepen their lived intimacy with Christ, the One True Director.

“In the fast paced, ‘get things done now’ culture in which we live, the art of listening to God and the capacity to discern his voice are in serious disrepair. To sit with a trained Spiritual Director provides a powerful corrective,” said Leland Eliason, Dean of the School of Ministry. “The benefits are life changing – with Christians discovering anew their center in the Presence of the Living God. The Scriptures say, ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and Spiritual Directors help us to do just that!”

Coursework is intentionally structured to help students apply the classroom material in “real life.” Therefore, two-thirds of class time will be focused on content and one-third on putting content into practice. The practical component will include supervision while giving spiritual direction one-on-one and in triads or groups. In order to facilitate student convenience while preserving a sense of community, coursework will be offered predominantly online, through a week-long orientation, and through two three-day courses. This program is designed to be completed in 15 months.

“This program will be hugely important for anyone who has ever felt God’s leading to help people further their lived intimacy with Christ,” said Richmont’s President, Bob Rodgers. “Richmont has a long-standing history of offering excellent graduate level training and we are very excited to offer this certificate program which will help students practice effectiveness within ministry, church settings, and their daily lives.”

For more information on prerequisites, application procedures and costs visit the Certificate in Spiritual Direction page on Richmont’s web site or contact the School of Ministry at 404-835-6124.

Richmont Hosts May Graduation with 75 Students

ATLANTA, GA – (May 16, 2014)

On Saturday, May 10, 75 students participated in the university’s spring graduation ceremony. The university awarded degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, Christian Psychological Studies and Professional Counseling. Of special note, this year also marked the first class to graduate from Richmont’s School of Ministry.

“Graduation is always such a special time to celebrate each of Richmont’s graduates and their years of diligent work,” said Bob Rodgers, Richmont’s President. “It was also a wonderful time of acknowledging the Lord’s faithfulness and hand of provision at work in Richmont and in the lives of each student.”

In addition to honoring this year’s graduates, Richmont named Kenyon Knapp as 2014’s Distinguished Alumnus. A 2005 Richmont graduate, Knapp serves as the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and is a tenured Associate Professor of Counseling at Mercer University in Atlanta, where he teaches master’s and doctoral level courses.  Kenyon founded and is the chairman of the Mercer Atlanta Research Conference; represents Counselor Education research with selective membership on the Institutional Review Board; and is a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Evaluator and CACREP Site Team Chair. Apart from the academic world, Knapp loves to serve the Lord through international missions work and crisis counseling.

Similarly, Ronald Bunger, Richmont’s Chattanooga campus librarian, received this year’s Peterson Award for the commitment and service he has shown to the university that has consistently exceeded his job demands and institutional expectations. Bunger has faithfully served the university for 10 years and is well regarded by students, faculty and staff.

As the first graduates from Richmont’s School of Ministry assembled on stage to receive their diplomas, Dr. Leland Eliason, Dean of the School of Ministry said flashes of individual student responses to the Ministry degree program passed through his mind, several of which included:

  • “I gained a vision to reach out to those who have given up on church through a course that at first I thought would be unhelpful!”
  • “For the first time in my life I have an understanding of the Trinity – it has renewed my understanding of God.”
  • “I’ve released and been freed from a load of hurt and resentment. I am ready and anxious to give my life in service to the Lord.”

Reflecting on graduation and on the past two years, Eliason said, “What a privilege it has been to be part of the launch of this program! These are graduates that I am very proud of and I believe they will be effective in transformational ministry for the rest of their lives!”

This year’s graduation also honored Dr. DeAnne Terrell for 15 years of service as the Dean of Students at Richmont. At the end of May, she will be transitioning to extend her talents and leadership capabilities as a professor at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

“DeAnne has expertly and steadfastly served at Richmont,” said Rodgers. “She is a thought leader in the field and is exceptionally beloved by students and staff both past and present. She is irreplaceable member on this team and has been a true gift to us.”

While students, faculty and staff know Richmont will not be the same without Dr. Terrell everyone is excited to rejoice with her in this next season. Thankfully, she will remain an adjunct professor at Richmont and will return to Atlanta in order to occasionally teach counseling courses.

*Photo Credit: Josh Booth Photography

Master of Arts in Ministry Degree Program Approved for Online Format

On Wednesday, February 26, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved Richmont’s proposal to offer the Master of Arts in Ministry degree in a fully online format. This will be the university’s first master’s degree program to be offered online.

“Since Richmont’s School of Ministry began in 2012, we have had prospective students from around the country asking for online course options,” said Richmont’s President, Bob Rodgers. “The Master of Arts in Ministry strikes a desirable balance between theological learning and practical application in the areas of discipleship, spiritual formation and leadership. Since students cannot always move to one of our campuses in order to take classes we are therefore excited to meet the clear national demand for coursework through online instructional delivery.”

The university looks forward to offering current ministry curriculum online beginning in August of this year. Typically, students complete coursework over a period of six academic semesters and, while there will be an in-person program orientation for classmates to get to know one another, coursework will be conducted remotely

“What a great encouragement it is to receive the approval by SACSCOC for the School of Ministry to move its entire Masters of Ministry degree online,” said Dr. Leland Eliason, Dean of the School of Ministry. “This two year English track degree is uniquely designed to equip those who are called into ministry whether in churches or faith based organizations or those who want to be better prepared to serve God within marketplace ministries.”

Since the beginning, feedback from faculty and students in the School of Ministry has exceeded expectations. For two years the program has successfully offered coursework via evening classes and intensive weekend class formats. The online version of the degree will broaden the School of Minstry’s reach as the curriculum that has received such enthusiastic endorsement from the students who have been enrolled in the residential program during the past two years will be offered virtually. Click here to learn more about the School of Ministry or to apply for the fall 2014 semester.

Richmont partners with local Atlanta churches to preview the Master of Arts in Ministry

The School of Ministry at Richmont Graduate University will co-host two Preview Evenings for those interested in learning more about the Masters of Arts in Ministry. Richmont will partner with Mount Paran Church and Trinity Anglican Mission next month to allow church members and the surrounding communities an opportunity to learn more about the degree program that is aimed at preparing and equipping leaders in ministry.

The events will be held:

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at Mt. Paran Church 6:15 – 7:00pm (Banquet Room)
  •  Thursday, March 20, 2014 at Trinity Anglican Mission 6:30 – 8:00pm (Youth Room)

For more information about the Masters of Arts in Ministry degree or to RSVP for one of the above events, please contact McCall Garner, Assistant to the Dean, mgarner@richmont.edu or (404)835-6124.

Richmont hosts Dr. Becky Beaton of TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive” and the Chattanooga Area Psychotherapy Association

Chattanooga, Tennessee – (June 6, 2013)

The Chattanooga Area Psychotherapy Association (CAPA) is sponsoring a seminar on hoarding featuring Dr. Becky Beaton from TLC’s hit show “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on Richmont’s Chattanooga campus on Friday, June 14.

Event Link:

http://capaweb.net/Default.aspx?pageId=1178413&eventId=685636&EventViewMode=EventDe tails

Through this one-day workshop, participants will have the opportunity to obtain 6 continuing education credits. During the seminar, the following learning objectives will be accomplished:

  1. Explain the new DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Hoarding Disorder, including the latest research and treatment.

  2. Discuss events throughout history such as war, the Great Depression, and natural disasters that effect multiple generations regarding attachment.

  3. Examine the etiology and progressive nature of this disorder, including the role that trauma, loss, and aging play in its development.

  4. Demonstrate treatment through film clips of Dr. Beaton and other experts treating clients on the television series “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”

  5. Participants will also explore their own attachment patterns regarding belongings.

While serving as one of TLC’s featured psychologists, Dr. Beaton is also the Director of the Anxiety and Stress Management Institute in Atlanta, GA. Her one-day clinic will help Southeastern clinicians better recognize and treat hoarding behaviors in their clients.

Richmont Graduate University is pleased to partner with CAPA by providing the venue for this seminar and hopes to continue collaborating in the future.

Richmont Confers Degrees on 83 Students in the Largest Graduating Class to Date

Atlanta, Georgia – (May 13, 2013)

On Saturday, May 11, the Board of Trustees at Richmont Graduate University conferred Master’s degrees on 83 candidates. As the university’s largest graduating class to date, 46 students received their Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, 31 received their Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and 4 received a Master of Science in Christian Psychological Studies. An honorary doctorate celebrating Hugh Huffaker’s generous gifts of time, talent and treasure was also awarded. Additionally, one degree was awarded posthumously for Richmont student, Shelley Byers, who passed away earlier this year.

“The day was a beautiful celebration of God’s faithfulness, the devotion of the graduates, and the love and support of all the family and friends who were there,” said Richmont’s Dean of Students, Dr. DeAnne Terrell. “Our goal is always to bring God glory throughout the ceremony and our hearts are full of gratitude for the great things He has done.

In addition to honoring this year’s graduates, Richmont named Elizabeth Dial as 2013’s Distinguished Alumna. A Nationally Certified Licensed Professional Counselor, Dial now uses her Richmont training in private practice at Serenity Counseling & Consulting, as a staff psychotherapist for the North Georgia Health District and as a contracted trainer through Emory University’s SEATEC program.

Similarly, Moose Lutes, Richmont’s Director of Financial Aid, received this year’s Peterson Award for the commitment and service he has shown to the university that has consistently exceeded his job demands and institutional expectations.

The university was also pleased to host Dr. Timothy Irwin as this year’s graduation speaker. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Irwin is an acclaimed author on leadership, a managing partner of IrwinInc., and a trusted consultant for some of the nation’s most successful companies including SunTrust Banks, Chick-fil-A, IBM, Gerber Products Company, The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, The Coca-Cola Company, and Turner Broadcasting Systems. His leadership guidance has also been featured on Fox News, via the Catalyst conference, and in publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Investor’s Business Daily.

Speaking to Richmont’s newest graduates, Dr. Irwin encouraged students from Proverbs 4:23 and offered them several practical steps to take in avoiding the pitfalls that could disqualify them from leading, including: adopting a practice of frequent and rigorous self awareness; handling power with great care; speaking the truth of scripture into their lives; and creating a personal board of advisors. Overall, he graciously reminded students that their hearts are the core of their being and, even with all their excellent training, they should not get caught up in self-importance, but rather serve with humility.

Reflecting on the day, Dr. Keny Felix, Dean of the School of Counseling said, “Graduation is one of our most exciting times of the year. It is the culmination of years of diligent work on the part of students as they prepare to enter the field as counselors and marriage and family therapists or serve through various forms of ministry. We are certainly proud of the Class of 2013 and give God the glory for the privilege of witnessing his transformation in their lives during their tenure at Richmont. We are also grateful for the family members and friends who saw them through this season of their lives.”