CONWAY – New Life Church (NLC) in Conway hosted a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, June 10, to celebrate a new educational partnership between NLC and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU).
OBU at NLC will offer Associate of Arts degrees in general studies and Christian ministry with in-depth opportunities for students to serve with and be mentored by NLC pastoral staff in hands-on ministry experience. Eleven students are preregistered for OBU at NLC’s inaugural semester, which begins Aug. 26.
The partnership was approved by Ouachita’s board of trustees in December 2013. Since that time, the Higher Learning Commission has approved Ouachita’s request to offer associate degrees and approved the university’s application to offer degree programs at an off-campus location. Stan Poole, Ouachita’s vice president for academic affairs, said a confirmation visit from the HLC will be held within the first six months of the program’s operation.
The resolution adopted by university trustees affirms that Ouachita and New Life “share a vision for equipping the next generation of Christian leaders with a quality education and passion for Christ’s work in the world.”
The resolution adds that the new degree programs “will provide a high-quality, relational and ministry-focused Christian education that is both nonresidential and highly affordable.”
“Equipping the next generation of church leaders with a Christian education has been part of the NLC vision from the beginning,” said Rick Bezet, lead pastor of New Life Church. “We are honored to be partnering with such a prestigious institution to make that vision a reality.”
Ouachita President Rex Horne noted, “It is my hope and expectation that the endeavor with NLC will see more students experience the difference of a Ouachita education.”
Brandon O’Brien, a 2004 Ouachita alumnus, is coordinating the work of OBU at NLC.
“We are grateful for the high-caliber students the program has already attracted,” he said. “Our admitted students have excelled academically in their previous studies and have demonstrated a commitment to ministry in the local church.
“This program offers a unique opportunity in the city of colleges: a chance to receive a world-class Christian education in the context of a life-giving local church,” O’Brien said.
A 7,000-square-foot facility is being remodeled specifically for OBU at NLC classes and administrative offices. It is located on the Conway campus of New Life Church at 633 S. Country Club in Conway. A second phase to construct a permanent facility on the Conway NLC campus currently is in the planning stages.