To continue the work of training tomorrow’s church leaders, the Center for Urban Theological Studies, thanks to a new partnership with the Lancaster Bible College, will now offer fully accredited programs at its Hunting Park location.
The union between CUTS and LBC, announced during an invitation-only luncheon on Tuesday, will also allow CUTS to expand its educational offerings while providing nationally-recognized accreditation from both the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation.
“I am extremely proud and grateful of the opportunity to partner with Lancaster Bible College,” said CUTS President Dr. Wilbert S. Richardson. “It was a very providential and strategic partnership.”
CUTS, which has nonprofit status, was founded in 1971, and since its inception has enjoyed a partnership with Geneva College, a Christian-based college in Western Pennsylvania. CUTS then expanded its program to degree-granting status in 1978, but as CUTS leaders sought greater autonomy and the ability to expand its offerings, Richardson said, it was time for CUTS to move on from Geneva and toward LBC.
CUTS currently enrolls roughly 150 students at its 1300 Hunting Park Avenue location. Since its founding, more than 2,000 students from more than 500 area churches have taken classes there; a further 800 have graduated from CUTS, and of those, 250 are currently serving as pastors in Philadelphia churches.
LBC, located at 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, has 1,113 students currently enrolled, with an additional 378 taking Bible enrichment coursework.
While it could appear that CUTS is abandoning Geneva College, officials with Geneva College endorsed CUTS move, saying Geneva College officials planned for the day when CUTS would one day seek greater independence.
“We had a great partnership with CUTS, and in more recent years, there have been formal agreements in 1996 and in 2009, all as the relationship matured,” said Geneva College Provost Ken Carson. “And in the most recent agreement, the idea was CUTS would become independent. We wanted our child to grow up.
“We’re very excited that CUTS has moved along to this point,” Carson continued, noting that one of the mitigating factors was CUTS desire for ABHE accreditation, something Geneva College couldn’t help with since Geneva College isn’t affiliated with AHBE. “This is not at all a negative thing for us, and we weren’t trying to get out of any relationship. We just wanted CUTS to become independent. We thank them for a great relationship.”
The new partnership creates the Lancaster Bible College at CUTS program, one that establishes a satellite campus enabling students who attend CUTS to receive fully-accredited LBC diplomas beginning in September. CUTS organizers also have plans on consolidating its academic and administrative offices into one location: the former Tastykake factory in Hunting Park.
“An effective long-term partnership that will hold takes two committed partners. CUTS and LCB share a deep commitment to God’s word, ministry, the local church and quality education,” said LCB President Dr. Peter W. Teague. “With CUTS already having an urban presence and with LCB’s growing urban presence in other parts of the country, this partnership strengthens our hand in educating students to impact the world for Christ in a way that does not sacrifice quality of education or relationship to community.
“Today, CUTS stands as a national leader in urban theological education…because, for more than 41 years, CUTS has provided a high-quality, Christian education curriculum and prepared men and women for urban ministry.”