Baltimore Seminary Offers Affordable Contextualized Education

Metro Baltimore Seminary (MBS), formed in 2019, had its first spring graduation on May 22 at Chapelgate Presbyterian Church (CPC). Jeremy Dickson, the lead pastor of Freedom Church Baltimore, delivered the closing prayer at the graduation.

MBS offers a unique opportunity for local students seeking theological education through a one-year Certificate in Christian Studies or a Bachelor of Theology or Master of Divinity degree in three years for a very reasonable rate of $165 per credit hour. Total tuition for all three years for the BTh and MDiv degrees is less than $6,000. MBS has two campuses — CPC in Marriottsville and Freedom Church Baltimore.

The Rev. Jeremy Dickson, the lead pastor of Freedom Church, delivered the final remarks and closing prayer. (Photo by Mike Khandjian)

While the seminary is not affiliated with a specific denomination, it has a strong affiliation with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware. In addition to utilizing Freedom Church (BCM/D affiliated) as a campus, there are several convention-affiliated students attending MBS and individuals serving in academic leadership and teaching positions.

Dr. Adam Feldman, the founder and former Lead Pastor of Metanoia Church in Ellicott City, is the Academic Dean. Feldman started teaching as an adjunct professor in 2020. In the fall of last year, through a discernment process with the leadership of Metanoia, Dr. Feldman felt that the Lord was leading him to transition vocations from pastoral ministry to academia. At the time, he did not know what his next steps would be, but he knew God was leading.

A week after Metanoia’s leadership determined a transition plan, Dr. Feldman shared with MBS President Dr. Dan Passerelli that he was transitioning to academia. Passerelli told him that MBS was seeking an Academic Dean. “I’ve wanted you in this role for several months, but you are a full-time pastor, and I couldn’t ask.” Feldman said the timing was “a total God thing.” Feldman left Metanoia on good terms and in the capable hands of Interim Pastor Keith Corrick.

BCM/D Executive Director Michael Crawford is the MBS Chairman of the Board. Eliza Huie, who serves as the director of counseling at McLean Bible Church, Arlington, Virginia, is the MBS dean of Biblical Counseling. Additional BCM/D faculty include Dan Hyun, pastor of Village Church in Hampden; Chul Yoo, pastor of Christ Community Church of Ashton; and Dave Scafide, pastor of Manchester Baptist Church.

Describing the seminary, Feldman said, “MBS holds to a Reformed theological perspective and is part of the Association of Reformed Theological Seminaries. While MBS is Reformed, it is open to students who do not necessarily hold to a Reformed perspective. MBS subscribes to Evangelical theology and conservative doctrine. The seminary is for anyone desiring theological education or who wants to be better equipped for their church leadership or ministry roles. You don’t have to be a pastor to attend!”

There are five tracks: urban ministry, church planting and renewal, pastoral ministry, Biblical counseling, and general church ministry. Feldman explained that 40% of the 84-credit hour Bachelor of Theology and Master of Divinity degree programs is academic course work including theology, exegesis, Church history, and Biblical languages; 40% is practicum (“boots on the ground ministry,” said Feldman) and 20% is mentorship.

Rev. Dr. Adam Feldman, Academic Dean, placing a hood on Class of ‘22 M.Div. graduate Jessica Shen. (Photo courtesy of Metro Baltimore Seminary)

“A big part of MBS’s emphasis is the spiritual transformation of the student – we’re not just feeding their heads,” Feldman said. “Through the 20% mentorship aspect, students walk with a mentor, someone they know, and this person assists them through their academic progress, disciples them, and tracks with them for three years.”

The dean of each track shepherds a cohort of students. “From year one to three, they’re all together, so there’s a lot of cross-pollination,” Feldman said. Students in their first year can glean a lot from those in their cohort who are ready to graduate.

“There is definitely a place for traditional brick and mortar schools. What there hasn’t been are seminaries like MBS,” Feldman said, adding that in some contexts, the experience, and mentorship, along with the classroom work, are much more accessible than taking five semesters of Greek. At MBS, Students receive contextualized training.

Feldman said the seminary has a diverse student body. Some are young, fresh out of high school or college. Others are the first of their family to get a degree. They may have served in the military, never went to college, or attended a community college, and are now seeking a theological degree. Some students are already pastoring, while others plan to pursue ordained ministry after graduation. Students also include retirees and second-career adults.

Discussing the formation of the seminary, MBS President Dr. Dan Passerelli said he and other pastors discovered new ministerial staff were either coming from traditional seminaries with a lot of knowledge but lacking “soft skills” or with a lot of experience without the theological training. “We were really looking at ways to retrain them,” Passerelli explained. “We wanted to find something that would bridge the gap between academics and practice and provide training in both at the same time.”

Rev. Dr. Dan Passerelli, the President, delivered the graduation homily for the inaugural graduate class. (Photo by Mike Khandjian.)

That’s what MBS offers. Passerelli said students are learning hermeneutics, but not just the principals. They’re having to put what they learn into practice immediately. They’re leading Bible studies with guys at a local mission or in their neighborhoods.

MBS is an affiliate campus of Metro Atlanta Seminary (MAS), which was started by Perimeter Church in Georgia 15 years ago. Passerelli and others contacted MAS, and the leaders were happy to share the model.

Passerelli said MBS will expand as God leads. There are plans to possibly add a youth ministry track in the future. Though they have been asked about online training (which they offered during COVID), Passerelli said the school decided to continue in-person sessions because the focus is on learning contextualized to the local areas of need. “It’s training local leaders for local ministry that’s really important to us,” he said. “Part of my vision for graduates is that they will be contributors to a network of gospel ministers serving our region in the name of Jesus.”

MBS is hosting a few information sessions over Zoom this summer. Prospective students and those who want to learn more about the seminary and the role it can play in equipping church leaders are encouraged to sign up here.

Feature photo: Dr. Adam Feldman teaching Old Testament Exegesis 2 on Daniel in Spring 2022. Photo by Dr. Dan Passerelli.