Since the beginning of the Church of God Bible Training School (BTS) in 1918, education and Bible training have been vital ingredients in the phenomenal growth of a small group of Appalachian Mountain worshipers into one of the world’s largest Pentecostal denominations.
But even though it has developed a splendid academia program, the church has never left the emphasis on grass-roots Bible training for laity and ministers. This twofold emphasis was initiated at BTS with the development of both a campus program and correspondence courses that could be taken into distant cities, stats, and countries.
With continued growth but constant biblical emphasis, BTS, now known as Lee University, is one of the premier educational institutions in the United States. Serving as the flagship school of the church’s more than 225 educational institutions of higher learning throughout the world, Lee U. sets the standard for the certification of postsecondary schools in the denomination’s Division of Education.
The Division of Education (DOE) recognizes Church of God postsecondary institutions at one of four levels—Level I, Christian Service Schools; Level II, Bible Institutes; Level III, Degree-Granting Institutions; and Level IV, Graduate Degree-Granting Institutions.
Level IV certification is available to schools that offer master’s and doctoral programs. To conduct evaluations, a team, usually of three individuals—one from the Division of Education, one from World Missions, and third from an educational institution—conducts a visit to the institution to determine that the school meets the standards.
The Church of God overseas has 10 Certified LEVEL IV graduate degree-granting institutions (besides Lee U. and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in the US): Asian Seminary of Christian Ministries/Philippines; Bethel Theological Seminary/Indonesia; European Theological Seminary (ETS)/Germany; Gilgal Biblical Seminary (closed country); Institutul Teologic Penticostal/Romania; Mt. Zion Bible College/India; Seminario Biblico Mexicano (SEBIME)/Mexico; Seminario Evangélico da Igreja de Deus (SEID)/Brazil; Seminario Ministerial Sudamericano (SEMISUD)/Ecuador; and Universidad Teológica del Caribe (UTC)/Puerto Rico.