Originally created 08/16/97

College wants to build character through the church



Central Christian University in Blytheville, Ark., is opening a satellite campus in North Augusta.

Augusta's educational levels, conservatism and local ties to Central Christian convinced the institution that this was the place to open a regional campus.

Beginning Sept. 2, classes in Christian education, biblical studies, pastoral counseling, ministry and theology will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturdays at Solomon Christian High School on Knobcone Avenue in North Augusta. Students may work toward associate's and bachelor's degrees. A graduate program will be offered in the spring, said Dr. Jim Birdseye, local administrator of Central Christian.

Central Christian has two missions: professional development for those in ministry and educational opportunities for others, according to Dr. Birdseye.

Central Christian is not affiliated with any denomination.

"What we basically do is to build on a common ground instead of focusing on points that divide the body of Christ," said Dr. Philip Brassfield, executive vice president and director of operations for the school.

The Rev. Jim Stanley, pastor of Solomon Faith Fellowship in North Augusta, met Dr. Brassfield in Florida a few years ago.

"It evolved from there," said the Rev. Stephen Luke, associate pastor of Solomon.

The church started meeting about four years ago in the school's gymnasium and took its name. In March, the church bought the school and renamed it Solomon Christian High School, said the Rev. Luke.

Solomon Faith Fellowship spent about $60,000 this summer on renovations, which will benefit both Central Christian and Solomon High School, said the Rev. Luke.

Solomon's second-chance school, limited to 20 students, will be in a separate area with its own schedule this year.

"They will wear uniforms and will pay a higher tuition than students in the main school," said the Rev. Luke. After 16 weeks to prove themselves, they will have the opportunity to enter high school.

The school is also reaching out to those who are not in trouble with a college preparatory curriculum, he said.

Central Christian, which began in the 1970s, now has about 4,000 students worldwide. Besides Blytheville, it has campuses in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and San Antonio. There are also extension centers in Sofia, Bulgaria; Berlin; Kingston, Jamaica; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

The motto of Central Christian University is to build character that lasts a lifetime. "The Augusta area is where you can see that best," said Dr. Brassfield. "There are churches everywhere."