Emmanuel School of Religion making a legacy out of ministry

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Correspondent

   Emmanuel School of Religion hasn't made many news headlines lately. In fact, this year, like many before, passed by relatively quiet for the local graduate seminary.
   At first glance it may seem that not much has transpired at Emmanuel School of Religion, but after closer examination it doesn't take long to notice there is a unique, ongoing ministry taking place right here in East Tennessee.
   The school has a 37-year legacy of turning out students with graduate degrees in Christian seminary. Many graduates go on to active ministries worldwide.
   It is the job of Adele Spurgin to keep supporting churches abreast of Emmanuel's vision and progress. In a recent letter to a supporting church family Spurgin highlighted the mission statement of the school.
   "The primary purpose of Emmanuel is to prepare men and women for effective ministry in the church and her agencies," Spurgin wrote. "The second purpose of Emmanuel is to serve the church as an intellectual center."
   Emmanuel boasts of 1,250 alumni who are currently involved in ministries in as many as 34 nations. The local seminary continues to see growth in the number of students seeking training at its campus. The 2003-2004 academic school year has one of the highest enrollments Emmanuel has recently seen.
   Students travel from all over the nation and world to study at Emmanuel. Approximately 10 percent of the student population is comprised of international scholars.
   Many Emmanuel students take advantage of the opportunity to be part of an active ministry while they are studying for a career in Christian ministries.
   One of the school's most visible ministries is an outreach to local teens. Emmanuel has partnered with Milligan College to offer support and guidance to adolescents as they prepare for the future.
   The Youth in Ministry (YIM) program allows teens to glean from the experiences of college students. Emmanuel and Milligan College students also help local youths determine what vocation they should pursue.
   Spurgin describes the mentorship program as an opportunity for teens to "determine their vocational calling in the context of Christian ministry by offering ways for young people to discover their unique gifts and discern God's desire for their lives."
   Emmanuel students involved in YIM look forward to this July, when they will spearhead the youth program at the North American Christian Convention in Phoenix, Ariz.
   Administrators at Emmanuel have been working on the physical needs of the campus as well. The construction of a student housing complex is well under way.
   The project has been divided into three different phases. The first phase includes 26 completed cottages located in seven courts. The second and third phases have not yet been completed, but include the construction of the Thompson Community Center as well as additional cottages.