In 1973, local pastor Dr. Bill Owens saw a need in the Christian community and acted on it. He opened the Cape Fear School of Theology because he wanted to make a difference, to find a way to give fellow Christians of all denominations the skills and understanding they needed to answer the call to service put forth in the Bible. Forty-three years later, the institution continues with this mission. It has undergone some name changes and recently expanded its facilities. On March 17, at 2 p.m. there will be a dedication service recognizing the new upgrades across the campus.
From a single classroom with a handful of students to a state-of-the-art facility with accredited programs of study, Carolina College of Biblical Studies continues to touch lives and equip people to go out and fulfill their calling. “We are not just for pastors,” said CCBS Dean of Online Studies Dr. Chris Dickerson. “A lot of our students are lay leaders. They teach Sunday school. They have ministries that they develop and grow, or some just want a degree. Most of our students are lifelong learners. Students still take English, writing, math and other basic courses, but our focus is on the Bible. We teach the Old and New Testament and the history of the Bible as well as how to read and make sense of it. We also do book studies.”
Dickerson went on the say that if someone believes the Bible is sacred, there is a greater degree of appreciation for it. When people read the Bible, often it is from a modern American perspective. “But it was written 2,000 years ago in an eastern culture,” he said. “Part of what we do is try to teach it with those understandings. How would a Jew understand that same text 2,000 years ago? What were the current events of the time? What were the manners? The customs? How did the culture work? The Bible means what it meant originally, and helping people understand that is what we do.”
It is especially rewarding to learn later how the college has impacted students’ lives and communities. CCBS students have gone on to build ministries all over the world, including Africa, Cambodia, Mexico and Columbia. “We don’t necessarily want numbers. We want impact,” said Dickerson.
The dedication service on March 17 represents an exciting time for the college. It marks the completion of a $2 million renovation that has tripled the usable space on the campus. And it has been paid for in full.
“Our library tripled in space. Now we can expand it, too. We have a legitimate first-class library. It will hold 18,000 volumes, and we are working to fill it up,” said Dickerson. The new space hIt has small group meeting rooms and terminals. It has fixed classrooms. “We have classes four times a day. With those times, plus added space, we can triple our enrollment and still have space. Our vision is to train men and women to be leaders and servants, and now we can help more people do that. Now, it looks like a college. It raises the bar a little bit and makes us look more reputable. We are not a fly by night place. We are an accredited college.”
On-campus degrees include an Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. Classes run for 11 weeks and are offered four times a year. Online courses include an Associate of Arts in Leadership and Ministry, a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Ministry, an Associate of Arts in Biblical Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. Online courses start every five weeks.
CCBS also offers a tuition-free class to the community on how to study the Bible. The only cost to take the class is a $60 book fee. The tuition for this course is waived, although there is a book fee of $60. “We offer it on campus and online,” said Dickerson. “If we can train people to study the Bible and understand it, chances are it will make an impact on them and how they live their lives. That is our gift to the community. Now they understand how to read and appreciate and apply the Bible. “
Prospective students are invited to reach out to CCBS at ccbs.edu, or by calling (910) 323-5614. The college does host about eight “Preview Days” a year. People RSVP to come. It starts at 6 p.m. “We feed them dinner, there is a Q&A session and a presentation. We have a campus tour and sit in on half of a class,” said Dickerson. “Then the admissions team is there if they want to ask further questions. That is a neat way to learn about the college.”