Fruitland’s teaching in Rocky Mount has been big successby Mike Creswell
Two years after Fruitland launched a satellite teaching center in Rocky Mount, 15 people have completed their courses.
Thirteen of them made the six-hour trip to Hendersonville for Fruitland's June 6 graduation. They traveled with friends and family in a bus chartered by Word Tabernacle Church. Fruitland Baptist Church provided dinner for the group.
The students completed 16 classes adapted from Fruitland's major courses, said Bill Mackey, who coordinates Fruitland's Rocky Mount center and continuing education.
"We combined classes to give them as much as possible in that two-year program and then we helped them to find everything else they needed," he said. Most of the students serve as unpaid church staffers, working bivocationally to support themselves.
Two Rocky Mount pastors requested the classes, telling Mackey it was wearing them out to provide leader training while managing rapid growth. Most of the students came from Word Tabernacle Church, led by James Gailliard, pastor, and Greater Joy Baptist Church, led by Shelton Daniel, pastor.
Partnership between Fruitland, North Roanoke Baptist Association, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and these two local churches enabled the teaching effort.
"It has been gratifying to see how they are more involved in giving leadership in their local churches," Mackey said. "One of the most powerful moments I can remember seeing in recent years was seeing how God has transformed their lives as adults, how they had become believers and then started to minister to other people in the name of Christ."
He told of one young man who does street evangelism with his family and a woman who is "the most passionate about encouraging people to come to faith in Jesus Christ I have ever seen."
Instructors at the North Roanoke campus have included Bill Grissom, retired pastor of First Baptist Church, Rocky Mount; William Seeler, minister of music, worship and adult ministry at Central Baptist Church, Wendell; and Brian Daniels, a Ph.D. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
Baptist State Convention staffers also teach courses. Urban church planting consultant Richard Lee taught New Testament; Michael Sowers taught missions and church planting; Marty Dupree taught evangelism and Brian Upshaw, disciple making.
Mackey said the Rocky Mount teaching project has been so successful he hopes it can be set up in other locations. Mackey also works with Fruitland's program of continuing education to keep pastors and others updated in their ministries and methods.