Mission and Vision
The purpose of the Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education (BRITE) is to serve the church in all branches of Protestant Christianity by preparing its students to be more faithful and effective church members and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The institute seeks to accomplish this by teaching and equipping its students through a program of graduate level theological education, a variety of training seminars, courses, and conferences, with all content based upon the authority of the inerrant Word of God, the sixty-six books of the Bible, and committed to the Reformed faith.
A foundational desire for BRITE is that it would further the health of the church by cultivating biblically, historically, theologically-rooted churchmen and women who will take what they have learned in classroom, in internship, and in mentoring, and inculcate those same priorities in the life of their own local congregation–thus further bolstering the health and vitality of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ for generations to come.
BRITE submits to the authority of the sixty-six books of the Bible and is committed to a winsome application of the Bible to all of life. This primary commitment of biblical integrity and its derivative world view informs every part of our training program and the development of our students for ministry. BRITE faculty understand and teach biblical truth from a Reformed perspective as set forth in the historic Reformed confessions, delineated below.
BRITE seeks to foster spiritual growth among our students, faculty, and staff, our communities, and in our representative churches. We endeavor to provide holistic preparation for church leadership. As such, one the primary emphases of the BRITE training program is the shepherding, care, and discipleship the student will receive, overseen by the Dean of Students.
The Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education (BRITE) found its origins in the autumn of 2016 when a group of local area pastors and church leaders began to meet and pray together about a need they detected in the Roanoke Valley and Southwestern Virginia more generally. Under the Lord’s kind providence, the North American church has seen an expansion of formal theological seminaries and institutions of sound biblical moorings which has greatly benefited the church, both in terms of ordained ministry and laity. Moreover, the proliferation and ubiquity of online theological classes, sound biblical training via audio/visual means, and an ever-expanding catalogue of biblical and theological internet resources throughout the world has greatly served to equip the church, especially in the Global South and Third World. For this, the church ought to be abundantly thankful.
Nevertheless, even in a near-universally connected age, these pastors and church leaders sensed the continuing need for a resource which could provide personal, interactive, mentored, on-going biblical and theological training in the Southwestern area of Virginia. While desiring to maximize the benefits of already-existing resources (both traditional and digital), the desire of the BRITE leadership was to create an institution that would serve church members, church officers, those currently serving in ordained ministry, and those considering pastoral ministry by providing a place where students could be equipped and further strengthened, discipled, and trained for a lifetime of kingdom ministry, at minimal financial burden, and in the context of the students’ current local life and ministry.
The organization finds its roots in the efforts of the former Roanoke Institute of Biblical Studies (RIBS), which operated in the 1970s. Launched with a similar vision and mission in mind as the current effort of BRITE, RIBS sought to serve as a resource, teaching and equipping local area pastors with biblical and theological training by means of classes and training pastors. Though the RIBS organization formally ceased some years ago, the origin and impetus of BRITE comes from much of the same stock as RIBS–a similar desire, passion, vision, and even some of the same initial leaders of RIBS serve as the initial leaders of BRITE.
The Board welcomes the admission of any student willing to come and learn in a cooperative manner. For the purposes of awarding a degree, diploma, or certificate, the board requires the student’s subscribing to historic, orthodox Trinitarian Christian beliefs (i.e. affirmation of the Nicene Creed). The faculty and leadership board is unashamedly committed to the exercise of its mission within the context of the Reformed faith. As such, the board requires that all faculty members subscribe to one of the following historic confessions, in addition to the ecumenical creeds of the church (The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Chalcedonian Creed):
Primacy of the Church
Among the chief desires of BRITE is the promotion of healthy, biblical churches and a robust, biblical life within the local church. BRITE is self-consciously aware that it is not the church, nor is it a replacement for the church. Rather, it is a ministry seeking to come alongside the regional church and serve her in area of specialized training which a single church may be unable to provide on its own.
To that end, BRITE is committed to both the intellectual and spiritual life of the student in hopes that a renewal of the mind will inevitably lead to a renewal of the heart, which the student will then, in turn, take back into the life of their local congregation, leading to an enrichment of spiritual health, renewal of heart and mind, cultivation of biblical church-life, and bolstering of the congregation’s corporate life and ministry.
In addition to the personal shepherding and oversight the student will receive from the Dean of Students, BRITE is committed to biblical churchmanship. As such, the board requires that all students be members in good standing of a local Protestant congregation and that, as part of the admissions process, they come with the recommendation of their pastor, session, board of elders, board of deacons, or other local church leadership team. Any exceptions to this general policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Admissions Committee.
Commitment to the Great Commission
Taking seriously the Lord Jesus’ charge to “Go therefore and “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” (Matt. 28:19), BRITE believes that effective evangelism, effective discipleship, and even effective church planting necessitates robust teaching of the whole counsel of God, instructing the Lord’s church in all which He has commanded. Given that evangelism, pastoral discipleship, and church planting are within the unique purview of the church of Jesus Christ, BRITE seeks to contribute to the life and health of the local church in order that the Great Commission might more effectively and winsomely carried out by the church.
BRITE seeks to aid in that endeavor with a kingdom mindset by providing advanced theological training, teaching, and equipping that will better enable church leaders to invest in the life of their local congregations, ministries, missions, counseling endeavors, etc., thus better carrying out the church’s Great Commission calling “to teach all” which the Lord has commanded, and to spread biblical Christianity far and abroad.
Board of Trustees and Governance
Being constituted in the autumn of 2016, the Board of Trustees of the Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education shall be self-perpetuating, consisting of seven members, each serving a three-year term, with the intention of staggering rotations. Members are eligible for re-election after a one year sabbatical. The Dean of Students and Academic Dean shall serve on the board as ex-officio members. In order to be eligible for nomination and election to the board, nominees must be members in good standing of a constituent/contributing congregation of the Blue Ridge Institute for Theological Education. Further by-laws and rules of order will be set by the Board.
In order to serve on the Board, members must subscribe to the same creedal and confessional requirements as faculty members, in addition to making a positive affirmation of the following vows:
“Believing that there is but one only, the living and true God, and that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and that these three are one and the same in substance, equal in power and glory, and with solemn awareness of accountability to Him in all that we feel, think, say and do, the undersigned engages in and subscribes to this declaration:
1. All Scripture is self-attesting and, being truth, requires the human mind wholeheartedly to subject itself in all its activities to the authority of Scripture complete as the Word of God, standing written in the sixty-six books of the Holy Bible, all therein being verbally inspired by Almighty God and therefore without error.
2. Reformed theology (as set forth in the historic Reformed confessions of the church, aforementioned); and, therefore, it is to be learned, taught and proclaimed for the edification and government of Christian people, for the propagation of the faith and for the evangelization of the world by the power of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. And I do solemnly promise and engage not to inculcate, sanction, teach or insinuate anything that appears to me to contradict or contravene, either directly or implicitly, any fundamental element of that system of doctrine.
4. Therefore, the undersigned in the presence of God, states and signifies that he consents, agrees, and binds himself to all of the foregoing without any reservation whatsoever, and that he further obligates himself immediately to notify in writing the trustees should a change of any kind take place in his belief and feeling not in accord with this statement. AMEN.”
The Board of Trustees, as of January 31, 2017 consists of:
The Rev. Mr. Kyle Ferguson, Chairman
Mr. Don Browning
The Rev. Dr. John Carroll
The Rev. Mr. Doug Hart
The Rev. Mr. Roland Mathews
The Rev. Mr. Sean Morris, Academic Dean
The Rev. Mr. John Pennylegion
The Rev. Mr. Randy Pizzino, Dean of Students