New Hope Bible School Institute presents 108 students with Bible scholar degreescomment (0)
July 19, 2012
By Brittney Knox
Tanisha Harvey-Hurst and Matthew Hurst attended class weekly at New Hope Bible School Institute to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.
Their learning was guided by teacher Gregory Clarke, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, Birmingham, and headmaster of the Bible school.
After more than a year of study complete with midterms and final exams, the students participated in a special commencement service at Samford University’s Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center in Birmingham on June 15.
New Hope Baptist Church presented Bible scholar degrees to 108 students. Many will go on to pursue their “master of biblical application” degrees from the school.
Teens to the oldest graduate, age 82, took the free course, which required weekly attendance.
“We have studied the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation,” Clarke said. “The students have attended classes, maintained a regular attendance and also took pop quizzes similar to a regular college course.”
Clarke explained the goal was to combine Sunday School with Bible study and create a Bible school.
At the commencement event, the graduates entered the Wright Center clothed in purple caps and gowns with yellow tassels and marched to the graduation song “Pomp and Circumstance.”
As with traditional graduations, these students confirmed their graduation by turning their tassels from the right to the left side.
Harvey-Hurst, salutatorian of the graduating class, decided to take the course after praying for a way to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.
“As we studied we were able to learn why things happened in the Bible, and each week we were told in class what to read and study,” she said. “Then we proceeded to dissect each chapter.”
Her husband, Matthew Hurst, also wanted to become more familiar with the Bible.
“It was fun taking the class with my wife,” he said. “We were able to learn more about the Bible together from beginning to end.”
The graduation event included praise in dance with two dance performances, a valedictorian address and remarks from Mike McLemore, executive director of Birmingham Baptist Association.
McLemore talked about the benefits of studying God’s Word after commending the Birmingham Association church for creating the Bible school and creating disciples of Christ.
“One of the benefits of studying God’s Word is that it grants us victory over sin,” he said.
McLemore said he learned about the Bible school when he visited New Hope Baptist. He told Clarke that he was very proud of how he was creating disciples through proper teaching.
“I think this event was a pacesetting event put on by a pastor with a vision,” McLemore said. “These students have studied the Bible hard. I have never heard of another event like this one, but I am sure after this the word will spread.”
“Going through the Bible with a group of people certainly helped me,” said valedictorian Monica Fuqua. “Pastor Clarke gave great detail and was very specific about what was going on in the chapters and why things were happening. He was great at connecting the dots.”
A celebratory event followed the graduation and featured gospel comedian Broderick Rice, songs from New Hope’s mass choir and a finale performance by Grammy Award-winning singer Karen Clark-Sheard.
Clarke said the church decided to have not only a graduation but also a celebration. “We love music and we love to laugh, so we produced a lineup to have good, clean Christian fun,” he said.
Rice filled the room with laughter, and audience members gave shouts of “Amen” and “Hallelujah” throughout the music performances.
Sheard told the audience after performing her hit single “Glorious” that she was filled with the Spirit to see her brothers and sisters in Christ so excited about praising the Lord at the event.
Clarke and his administrators are preparing for the next class that begins Aug. 7. Prospective students can contact the New Hope Baptist office for information at 205-925-9393.