On May 13, Boyd Dunn, the mayor of Chandler, Arizona, joined the administration and faculty of International Baptist College (Tempe, AZ) to cut the ribbon on Singleton Hall. Singleton Hall is IBC’s first residence hall in the college’s nearly 30-year history, and it represents a major landmark for the small school.
Students had watched the building progress since it started in November 2005. They had helped paint, decorate, and landscape to get the building ready to use. After the ribbon was cut May 13, visitors passed through the arcaded entry to tour the facility. The Spanish mission-style structure can house 110 students. Each dorm room will accommodate four students with a private shower and restroom.
Singleton Hall provides needed residence space and represents a first step toward creating a campus and identity for the college. The dorm will put the students closer to the administration and faculty, and its leaders believe that a central dorm will bring greater unity to the student body.
The completion of Singleton Hall marks the first step in IBC’s growth plan. IBC also plans to build a 32,000-square-foot academic building that will house a library, a student center, classrooms, and faculty offices.
IBC is a ministry of Tri-City Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. The church underwrites more than $100,000 of the college’s annual expenses and has had a major part in financing the expansion. The church purchased the land and developed the infrastructure for the college, leaving the actual building costs to the college and its supporters. IBC needs to raise another $4.7 million to complete its expansion plan
International Bible College was founded in 1981 by Dr. James Singleton. After planting Tri-City Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, Singleton felt the need for a Bible college to train Christian young people in the West. Today, IBC offers certificate, bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs. Undergraduates can pursue a bachelor of arts in Bible and Christian service or a bachelor of arts in Bible and education.
IBC’s leaders are committed to upholding high academic standards, although they admit that achieving this goal can be expensive for a small school. Three of its full-time faculty hold doctorates from different institutions, and two others have doctoral work in progress. The full-time faculty have degrees from Bob Jones University, Temple Baptist Seminary, Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, University of California, and Princeton University. Students also learn from adjunct professors—pastors and faculty from other fundamental schools. The college has been accredited by TRACS since 1994.
IBC has about 100 full-time and part-time students with another twenty pastors enrolled in graduate programs. IBC doesn’t apologize for its size. Instead, it has placed a cap on its growth. Mike Sproul, pastor of Tri-City and chairman of the IBC board, explains that the school doesn’t plan to grow past 300 students.
While real estate played a part in this decision, the greater consideration is IBC’s commitment to “mentoring into ministry.” It leverages its close local church relationship to disciple and prepare students for future ministry. Sproul personally teaches a four-year rotation of classes on church administration, Baptist history, mentoring, and leadership.
The IBC website identifies IBC’s three levels of mentoring: academic mentoring in the classroom, practical mentoring through involvement with the local church, and spiritual mentoring through Bible preaching and relationships with godly role models in the school and church. Carly Nelson, a junior Bible and education major, is quick to explain the benefits of IBC’s mentoring philosophy. She explains that this sort of relationship would be hard for IBC to offer to a larger student body.
Joel Tetreau, an IBC alumnus and senior pastor of Southeast Valley Baptist Church in Gilbert, Arizona, says that IBC’s educational approach eased the transition from school to full-time ministry. “The emphasis on mentoring and immediate ‘real-life’ ministry made it so that I had almost no downtime in between my studies at IBC and full-time vocational ministry,” he says. “Having worked as an assistant to the youth pastor at Tri-City, I found I was prepared to walk into an associate pastorate in Michigan while continuing my studies at Detroit Seminary. IBC had also prepared me well for the demand of seminary studies.”
IBC’s doctrinal statement offers no surprises for most fundamentalists. “We are a strong local-church, Baptist school,” Sproul says. In the classroom and pulpit, IBC teaches separatism. “We teach and practice not only the what, but by God’s grace, the why of being a separatist Baptist.” Although the college is dispensational, there is room for disagreement among professors in areas such as soteriology where the school steers a middle path. “We are neither Arminian nor Calvinistic. We believe God elects, and man is responsible. We are concerned about many man-made methods of enticing a sinner to say a prayer. However, we are equally concerned about those who rarely ever show any urgency to proclaim God’s wonderful gift of salvation because they claim that they want no manipulation in the process of God’s conviction.”
On the translation issue, IBC teaches that inspiration applies only to the original manuscripts. Sproul, who has written a book on the topic, explains, “No printed Greek or Hebrew text or revision of said text, nor any translation or revision of a translation, is absolutely perfect. We believe that God has truly preserved His Word for us in the abundance of ancient manuscripts and witnesses.” The school does not take a position on the specific method of preservation. While Sproul prefers the Majority text, other faculty members prefer other texts.
NOTE: More pictures available at the IBC website
Michael Collins holds a business degree from Bob Jones University and a certificate in political journalism from Georgetown University. In the summer of 2004, he interned in the Washington Bureau of Knight/Ridder Tribune News Service. He is a post-graduate student in history at BJU and teaches high school publishing part time. This summer Michael is studying at Charles University in Prague.