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Rockbridge Update – October, 2017

Annual Report

The 2016-2017 school year was a year of transitions as Rockbridge continues to improve the quality of our online learning community. The annual report is available at this link. In addition to a summary of accomplishments, you will be inspired by the selected stories and profiles of our Board members, students and faculty.

New Faculty Bio – Katherine Webb

Katheryn has been a professor in Christian higher education for many years, beginning with serving as Associate Dean for Masters Studies at The Southern Baptist Th
eological Seminary.
She then served as Dean of Academic Quality for Trinity College of the Bible and Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburgh, IN. She then advanced to Director of Assessment at Oakland City University, Oakland City, IN. Katheryn retired from OCU in the summer of 2017.

Katheryn’s passion for missions has also been a significant part of her Christian ministry. She has served as a Trainer for Women in the Women in Missions organization. Katheryn has also conducted conferences for Partners International in Guzelçamli, Turkey and Juba, Sudan. For more of her bio, read it in our annual report.

Know of Someone Looking for Ministry Training?

Sometimes all it takes for someone to take the next step in their leadership development is for someone to express belief in them. We began Rockbridge, because a friend said, “If you don’t do this, who will?  I can see you doing this!”  Share an encouraging word this week to a person you believe has leadership potential and pass along this link to our catalog.

Thanks for your gifts

We are so thankful for each donation to Rockbridge.  It is your gifts that make it possible for students to afford to receive world-class ministry training. You may give online through this link. This past term 2 students were provided scholarship by individual donors that helped students to completed their studies and graduate.

Rockbridge Update, September 1, 2017

Rockr’s on Front Line of Harvey’s Destruction

More than 50 Rockr’s live in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. This is a natural disaster of epic proportions. While the hurricane has moved on, the impact of its destruction will continue for months and possibly years. Some of our Rockr’s had to evacuate their homes, and have lived at their churches providing meals, housing, and support for victims of Harvey.  We pray for all those who affected by the storm and ask God to provide strength and power to those helping to rebuild lives and communities.

Ryland Walter Follows His Father as Senior Pastor

On August 27, 2017, Ryland Walter (DMS 2015) was installed as Senior Pastor at Rock Brook Church, in Belton, Missouri. His father, Kelly Walter, founded Rock Brook in 1997 with a vision to help others find and fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. Rock Brook began with 92 people and during his 20 years as senior pastor, the church has grown to over 1000 in weekend services. Ryland serves alongside his brother Andrew, another graduate of Rockbridge. Pastor Kelly is on an advisory council at Rockbridge. Many of the past and current staff members are Rockr’s.  Below is a picture of Rockr’s who attended the event

From left to right:  Dave Probert, Chris Brown, Andrew Walter, Daryl Eldridge, Tom Stoltz, Ryland Walter, Zach Terrell, and Kelly Walter



Rockbridge Summer Update

Online Students meet Face-to-Face

Whether it is at graduations or conferences, relationships in our online learning community are enhanced with face-to-face encounters. We are bonded together in our love for Jesus and our shared calling to minister in His name.  It is wonderful to see Rockr’s connect around the world.

Mike Rose and Kara Chan, two Rockr’s in Hong Kong, started their first page of friendship.












Celebrate Recovery Conference

Rockbridge will have a booth at the CR Summit, August 9-11. If you are attending the conference, please drop by the booth and meet up with other Rockr’s. Check in with the booth about our luncheon on Thursday during the lunch break.  Please Twitter about Rockbridge and CR Summit this coming week.

Know of Someone Looking for Ministry Training?

Sometimes all it takes for someone to take the next step in their leadership development is for someone to express belief in them. We began Rockbridge, because a friend said, “If you don’t do this, who will?  I can see you doing this!”  Share an encouraging word this week to a person you believe has leadership potential and pass along this link to our catalog.


What Does It Mean When We Say Rockbridge Is Accredited?

I am a big fan of Angie’s List. Before you spend a lot of money on repairs or renovation on your home, you want to know who you can trust.  With Angie’s List, you can see what experiences others have had with providers and have better confidence that the company you select is legit. Recently, we had exterior doors replaced. We did our research and found a company with excellent reviews. In addition, the company provided a windstorm certificate of compliance. A windstorm certificate required an independent inspector to evaluate the work and determine if the installation met windstorm standards up to hurricane category 5 force winds.  Accreditation is like a certificate of compliance and Angie’s list.

Accreditation is the recognition that an institution meets and maintains certain standards indicative of a quality education. Accreditation standards include such areas as mission and governance, finance, curriculum, faculty, student services, strategic planning, facilities, and ethical practices in marketing. Why is accreditation important to you? Some churches and mission agencies will question the validity of your degree and your potential as a good candidate for a position if the school is not accredited. This does not mean the school is in anyway inferior or does not provide a quality experience. Unaccredited schools have not gone through a rigorous evaluation process by an official body.

Accreditation is also important for transfer of credits. If you plan on transferring to another institution in your academic career, seminaries are unlikely to accept transfer credits from an unaccredited school. Accreditation is also necessary for students who want to acquire government loans. You may have heard people use the erroneous term, “fully accredited.” There are not different levels of accreditation. Accreditation is like pregnancy, either you are or you’re not.

There are several different forms of accreditation including regional, national, and programmatic accreditation. Accreditation agencies are private, non-governmental organizations created for establishing standards of accreditation and reviewing institutions and programs against these standards. In the U.S., the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) approves accreditation bodies. Like Angie’s List, the process of accreditation involves peer evaluation. It also provides opportunities for graduates, students, faculty, and curriculum specialists to provide feedback to the peer evaluators for ascertaining if the school meets accreditation standards. These peer review committees submit their reports to a commission or board that renders final verdict on accreditation.

When you research the accreditation of a school, make sure the accrediting body is approved by CHEA. There are several different forms of accreditation: regional, national, and programmatic. In the U.S., there are six regional accrediting bodies, each representing schools within a region of the country. A national accrediting body represent schools that have a national scope and share a common mission, such as distance education. Programmatic accreditation, represent specialties in education, such as nursing, law, business, etc. Schools may have several different types accreditations.

Rockbridge is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, the premier accrediting body for online schools. They are pioneers in providing quality educational experiences for those who do not have the time or means to travel or live on residential campuses. DEAC is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

The Association of Theological Schools is a programmatic accreditation agency for divinity schools. Currently, ATS does not accredit schools that are only online. They have permitted their schools to provide some non-professional master’s degrees, and they are experimenting with other degree programs. Rockbridge has not pursued any accreditation, such as ATS, that would require changing our global mission of providing quality seminary training to those who cannot attend a residential campus.

This may be more information on accreditation that you wanted to know, but hopefully it helps you to understand what it means that Rockbridge is accredited. For more information on our accrediting body, check out this DEAC link.

About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge is the president and founder of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.  He has helped several seminaries become accredited and serves as a peer educational reviewer on accreditation site teams.

Financial Year End

July is the last month of our financial year. Seminary training can be very expensive, but Rockbridge provides affordable seminary training, through the gracious financial gifts of donors. Our students pay about half of what they would normally pay for tuition at other institutions.  We are not the beneficiary of denomination, or a large endowment. Gifts from hundreds of donors make it possible for us to accomplish our mission of developing servant leaders for Christian ministry. We have students and graduates in over 20 countries. We would be honored if you would partner with us in fulfilling the Great Commission.

You can give online through this link, or send your check to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield Rd., Springfield, MO 65804.   We now can also receive corporate stock. Your charitable donations are tax deductible.

Want Seminary, but No College? No Problem!

Jeremy never expected to be a ministry leader. He left college to begin a business.  Life happened.  Years later he’s serving in the church and wants to deepen his understanding of the Bible and develop his ministry skills. He doesn’t want to go back to college and study algebra, English, or world history, but he’d like to go to seminary.  Is there a program that could help him accomplish his learning goals?

Rockbridge Seminary’s Diploma in Ministry Studies (DMS) is a certificate program designed for men and women over the age of 25 who are serving on a church staff or in other ministry positions. This completely online-program provides an opportunity for students, not seeking a degree, to develop servant leadership skills for ministry, as well as competencies in Bible and church history. Ministry classes may be completed in two years, although students may take longer due to family, church, and job responsibilities. The program is only available for those who do not possess a bachelor’s degree.

Many prospective students ask about the return on investment. “Is the time, money, and effort of seminary worth it?”  Our graduates share how the Diploma in Ministry Studies is life changing.

“Rockbridge Seminary was a Godsend to me. I felt the call to go to seminary, but didn’t have a bachelor’s degree normally needed to go to seminary. God opened the doors and I found Rockbridge! I loved the ease of taking a class, learning, and the relationships I made with professors and classmates. I completed my DMS degree and continue to earn my Bachelor’s degree. God willing, I plan to go back to Rockbridge to receive my Master’s. Rockbridge is amazing and I truly recommend the DMS program to those called to ministry, but do not have the education for a higher degree.” Dennise Naredo, Business Owner and Ministry Leader

“Rockbridge Seminary provided me with an opportunity to advance my education while still working in full-time ministry. Being able to continue learning and growing, while having the flexibility to maintain my fulltime responsibilities, allowed me to fulfill my roles as a husband, father, and pastor while being a student at the same time. Rockbridge allowed me to acquire the skills and tools I needed to grow in a format that fit my already full life.”  Brandon Hair, Development Pastor, Front Range Christian Church

“The Diploma in Ministry Studies taught me why the church does what it does to grow and to welcome unbelievers to become believers and encourage their growth. The mentoring made me seek out mentors related to each course and brought me out of my shell and helped me grow personally and gave me confidence to become more involved in ministry.” Pam Reimer, Executive Assistant, Saddleback Church

“What I enjoyed most about my Rockbridge experience was that it was primarily hands-on learning. It wasn’t just theoretical and academic material. It took important information and principles and fleshed out what they meant for my ministry, then helped me know how I can apply and relate them to my local church.”  Ronnie McDougal, Executive Pastor, North Pointe Community Church

“The experience of completing the Diploma in Ministry Studies changed my life by putting me in God’s will instead of planning my life my way. I thought I was doing this program to help me be a better leader of my current ministry, but God was preparing me to be the Sr. Pastor of our small church. I realize that was God’s plan all along.”  Herk Rolff, Senior Pastor, The Little Church in the Pines

The Diploma in Ministry Studies may be the solution you are looking for, or you may know of someone who could benefit from this program.  For more information, contact

What is “anyplace” learning?

Aaron is a youth minister in a vibrant church who wants to get a seminary degree, but he doesn’t want to uproot his family to move to a residential campus.  He lives and works many hours away from the nearest seminary.

Joanne is the president of a Christian ministry organization in the Philippines.  She, too, wants to further her education, but to attend classes through video conferencing she would have to get up at 3:00 A.M. She finds it is nearly impossible to synchronize her demanding ministry schedule with typical seminary programs.

Oladipo lives in Africa. Rather than attend a local seminary, he desires to be part of a global learning community.  However, he can’t afford to travel and live in another country.

Rockbridge Seminary was created to meet the desires and needs of Christian leaders like those mentioned above. Christian leaders want to develop their ministry skills, but they don’t want to leave their ministry field to get a seminary degree.  The educational term for “anyplace and anytime” learning is asynchronous education. Through the Internet, students can access high-quality ministry training on their own schedule. Today, students are no longer tethered to their computer, but they can study on their mobile phones and tablets.  They can study on a train, in a car, on a plane, on a bus, or on a ship, as these students reported:

 “I completed an entire semester of my D.Min. while deployed to “an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia,” and wrote much of my paper while sitting on a C-17.” John.

“I live in Japan, and during my Rockbridge studies, I traveled around the country several times a year doing training seminars with my mentor. This meant working from hotels at the seminar locations. I also did some of my studies while traveling in the US, signing in while staying with friends and family.”  Kathy.

“My first course I was on an Alaskan cruise with my wife and in-laws. I have signed on in China, Chile, Brazil, Germany and Japan over the years.”  Jim.

“I studied at an Internet cafe in the Philippines while on a mission trip. I also studied while working at a Valero Refinery in Aruba.”  Matt.

“I studied during those hours I had free between my full-time job at the school district and part-time job as a clerk in a convenience store.”  Eric

“I studied between calls while working as an EMT.” Cale.

Anyplace learning offers students flexibility and the opportunity to connect with a global community of ministry leaders.

Because students are across the globe, it is difficult if not impossible for them to gather at any specific hour. But in online seminaries the classroom is always open.  Through forums or chatrooms students read the thoughts of their colleagues and respond. Students and faculty share resources like video clips, sermons, projects, and other media. Students exchange best practices in ministry, share family photographs and their passions, while also discussing what they are learning in the course.

Learning today is all about “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” training. So if you think you couldn’t get a seminary degree where you are, think again.

About the Writer: Dr. Daryl Eldridge has served as Dean at one of the world’s largest residential theological seminaries, served on staff at several churches helping to develop the ministry skills of leaders, taught in blended programs, and is now the president of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited seminary.










Rockbridge Seminary Graduation

Graduation ceremonies for Rockbridge Seminary were held on June 2, 2017 at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri.  The seminary conferred degrees on 48 students, its largest class yet, making a total of 309 since its founding.

Corey Tabor (MML) brought the invocation, Steve Gallimore (MDiv) read scripture, and Wes Bowen (MDiv) led the congregational singing. Dr. Dr. Mark Simpson led a special time when faculty, mentors, and family prayed for the graduates.

Citing Matthew 5:14, Dr. Daryl Eldridge, President, called this class a new generation of light bearers.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! (Matt. 5:14, The Message)

Eldridge praised this group of graduates for their resilience and for dispelling the darkness in the world.

“You are the light of the world,” apply to this extraordinary group of servant leaders.  In our graduating class are pastors of rural churches and campus pastors of multi-campus churches.  Women and men.  Some derive their only source of income from the church or a ministry organization, while others serve in the marketplace as an insurance agent, parole officer, Christian bookstore retailer, teacher in a Christian school, owner of a music studio, real estate agent, resource specialist in a public school, medical physicist, budget analyst, and pharmacist. Our graduates include worship leaders, church planters, youth and collegiate ministers, and missionaries.

You see the influence of our graduates around the world. They are bringing light to families, businesses, neighborhoods, churches, and ministry organizations.  They help transform others through their servant leadership. They serve in jail ministries, food pantries, motel ministries, and as hospital and hospice chaplains.  They often serve where few others are willing to go.

Rockbridge is a non-denominational fully-only seminary built on the five purposes of the Church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, and Evangelism/Missions.  The school was founded in 2003 and has students in over 20 countries.

The commencement program may be downloaded here.  A video of the ceremony may be downloaded at this link.

Why Online Learning is Anyplace Learning

When we think of learning we think of going to school. For some of us that meant getting up early to wake the rooster, do some chores, and then head out for the school building. For others, it meant scrambling to get out of bed in the hopes of catching our ride to school that just pulled up at the door. The common denominator in either scenario was going from home to another location to learn.

Once we got to school, learning took place in one or more classrooms. We sat in our places with bright shiny faces—or droopy ones if you forgot to eat breakfast—and the teacher dished out the knowledge de jour. Between classes learning was supposed to take place in the reverent halls of the library. In that bastion of silence, we were expected to learn from the stacks of tomes about us, even if we did not actually open many of them.

When we eventually got back home, which seemed like an eternity later, we usually were asked if we had done our homework. Regardless of how you answered that question, it usually meant sitting down at the dining room table to study, or going to your room to study, which translated means, “try to keep out of trouble—I’m busy.”

Anyplace learning in those days was defined as the school classroom, the school or local library, the dining room table, your bedroom, or on occasion, a corner of the room with your face turned toward the wall because you avoided the other locations. But today the definition of anyplace learning has changed significantly, and in your favor!

Online Learning

Online learning is exactly that. Instead of having to go to a specific classroom at a specific time on a specific day or days, online learning begins online, at any time day or night. In online learning the student logs into a course, reads news and announcements from the instructor, and then proceeds to view and respond to the course materials provided for the current Unit of study. Course materials are usually in the form of presentations, media clips, web site materials, online articles, and discussion forums. These learning activities are explored when it is convenient for you. Anytime learning is also known as asynchronous online learning. If a course were to require meeting online at a set day and time, it is known as synchronous online learning.

But setting the time element aside, there is another benefit to online learning.

Anyplace Learning

Anyplace learning is another feature of online learning. Anyplace learning means that you do not have to be in a specific location to learn—you just need Internet access. You can study at your local coffee shop, your favorite park bench, your favorite chair at home, at your workplace during your lunch break—anyplace you choose. With anyplace learning your classroom is where you are, not where you have to be!

Using a smartphone or mobile device to access your classroom also expands your anyplace learning options. Using a mobile device means your classroom is always with you. Waiting in the car for friends or family to get done shopping—visit your online classroom. Sitting in the waiting room for an appointment—visit your online classroom. Your classroom is anyplace you are (except while driving of course).

Learn More About Our Anyplace Learning Community

Rockbridge Seminary would be pleased to help you determine if online anyplace learning is a good fit for you. To set up an appointment with an academic coach, call (866) 931-4300 or email

About the Writer: Dr. Mark Simpson is the Chief Academic Officer of Rockbridge Seminary, a fully online accredited school. He has served as Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies and Digital Learning at one of the largest residential theological seminaries, and developed fully online courses and programs as Coordinator of Online Learning for a Christian university. Dr. Simpson has been teaching fully online courses for theological education since the late 1990’s.

Rock’r News – May 2016

Faculty Spotlight – Dr. John Neesley

Dr. John Neesley is the senior pastor at Lazybrook Baptist Church in Houston Texas, a contributing partner of Rockbridge. John has been the pastor at Lazybrook sine August 1996. He graduated from LSU where John Neesley 2he cut his teeth on presenting the gospel in a party atmosphere. His Master of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary and his PhD from New Orleans Seminary helped to solidify his understanding of the Bible in dialoging with others.  He married his high school sweetheart, Bobbye, in 1982.  She is a substitute teacher, reading specialist and assists with preschoolers at church. Their oldest child, Natalie, is married to Austen and is mom to Kate, who is John and Bobbye’s 1st grandchild.  “Pops” loves his visits to Ft Worth to see Kate!  Their youngest, Andrew, is married to Hunter and is a teacher.  John is a “gym rat,” who spends mornings at the fitness club working out, running and swimming.  He and Andrew love to shout for all the local sports teams & they have been known to make road trips to see their beloved Astros play.  Dr. Neesley teaches Biblical Hermeneutics and New Testament Survey and has been on faculty since 2007.

Partner Highlight – Life Purpose Coaching Centers International®

Dr. Katie Brazelton is the founder of Life Purpose Coaching Centers International®, which trains Christian men and women from all over the world (via online, tele-conferences) to become Professional Certified Life Coaches.  Through this vibrant ministry, thousands of people have been help to discover and fulfill their own unique life purpose — in order to live full and abundant lives. Dr. Brazelton has been a teacher professor for Rockbridge Seminary and now serves on the Board of Trustees. If you are interested in becoming a life coach, or finding a Life Coach to help you discover your purpose, check out this extraordinary organization.

Discover Hope for Your Church: Purpose Driven Conference 2016

Join us on June 28-30, to hear Rick Warren share what he has learned from 36 years as pastor at Saddleback Church.  In that time, we’ve baptized more new believers (43,018), put more people into small group Bible studies (over 38,000 meet weekly in 8,420 small groups), and sent out more members on mission (26,846 members have served in 196 countries) than any American church.

This is one conference you don’t want to miss. Sign up at PD.CHURCH.

Graduation – June 3, 2016 at Preston Trail Community Church, Frisco, TX.

Online Giving – We are grateful to our donors who make it possible for students to receive ministry leadership training.  Rockbridge is a 401(C)3 non-profit corporation and your gifts are tax deductible. You may send your gifts to Rockbridge Seminary, 3111 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65804 or give online.