Church of God in Christ, Assemblies Of God Launch Bible College

by | Feb 28, 2005 | Charisma Archive

Organizers say the School of Urban Missions continues the healing that began in 1994 at the Memphis Miracle
In what organizers describe as an historic show of racial unity in the Christian community, the Assemblies of God and Church of God in Christ have joined forces to operate the School of Urban Missions (SUM), an inner-city Bible college that combines theological education with practical hands-on training. The undertaking marks the first time ever the two Pentecostal denominations have embarked on a joint corporate venture.


“I began to realize that there were so many potential leaders in the urban community, but they didn’t have the ability to pursue the dreams that God laid in their hearts,” said George Neau, founder of SUM and school chancellor.


Neau’s dream to build a school that would provide opportunity to low-income, inner-city students became a reality in 1993 with the purchase of a building near downtown New Orleans. In 1999, SUM purchased a second site in Sobrante Park–a notoriously poor and drug-infested area of east Oakland, Calif.


Robert Cowan, a Church of God in Christ (COGIC) board member, describes the Oakland campus as an oasis in the midst of the inner city. “It gives hope to a community blighted by poverty, drugs and violence,” Cowan said. “The general church community is also benefited. Christian education is typically expensive. This fee is low enough and the education good enough that many churches are able and willing to support.”


SUM offers an Associate of Arts degree in biblical studies at a cost of $400 per quarter, allowing students of all economic backgrounds to graduate debt free. Through fund-raisers and donations, the school sponsors the remaining tuition, which can reach $10,000 a year per student.


SUM opened its doors with an enrollment of just four students. Today, more than 130 students attend, 65 percent of whom are African American.


“The school is based on going out there and making a difference,” said Alexander Largaespada, an SUM graduate. A gang member by age 17, Largaespada is now assistant director of When Warriors Dream, an SUM ministry in Oakland whose goal is to reach inner-city youth. “I want to give them what I never had by telling them that there is hope,” Largaespada said.


SUM has changed one of Oakland’s toughest neighborhoods, said Lt. Paul Figueroa of the Oakland Police Department “Their presence has certainly made an impact,” Figueroa said. “[Crime] activity has slowed down significantly. They took a rundown facility and made it into a top-notch school.”


Neau describes SUM as a Bible college with passion, one that connects the intellect and the heart. “I want to raise up an army of radicals who will help shape the nation for Christ,” Neau said. “Our goal is to put an SUM in every major city in America.”


As students worked feverishly to reach crime-riddled communities with a message of salvation, Neau says he recognized an urgent need to unite the denominations.


Previously owned solely by the Assemblies of God (AG), SUM petitioned COGIC to become a corporate partner. On Aug. 21, representatives from the two denominations signed a partnership agreement at a dedication service of the Oakland campus.


The event was also meant to expand resources, increase educators and enhance established campuses with opportunities for growth. “Racial tension is still very much alive in the church,” SUM President Anthony Freeman said. “If we can just get together, what a powerful statement we can make.”


Charles Crabtree, AG general superintendent, said the partnership is a continuation of the healing that began at the 1994 “Memphis Miracle,” where COGIC and AG leaders asked for forgiveness for racist attitudes that had kept the two groups apart. Ten years later, the dream of reconciliation is becoming a reality–thanks to SUM, Crabtree said. “SUM represents one of the very first clear indications of a change toward an interracial movement. This is our testimony to the world. What a blight if we can’t work together.”
Suzy Richardson

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible

WATCH: Vlad Savchuck: Life, Health and the Bible

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZdzLoS3wCM During a recent visit to @HungryGeneration, Pastor Vlad Savchuk asked Bill Wiese to comment on his personal experience applying the Word of God to his own life and health. These same principals hold true for all who read and...

Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Miraculous Divine Intervention Birthed by Thanksgiving and Praise

Read Time: 4 Minutes 2 Seconds When I first became a believer in 1970, my mother was one of my first “converts," giving her heart to Jesus as soon as I shared with her the beauty, the power and the opportunity of making Jesus the Lord of her life. However, my father...

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

I’m Going Defcon G on the Enemy

Read Time: 1 Minute 32 Seconds The last six years have been the best of times and the worst of times. I’ve seen more death, destruction, disease and devastation than I care to remember. I’ve also seen the hand of God move in extraordinary ways. Indeed, sometimes I...

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Prophetic Vision: ‘Now is the Time of Your Healing’

Read Time: 3 Minutes 41 Seconds I was remembering a time when my husband and I were praying over friends who had been in a situation for many years that had caused deep trauma to their souls. As we were praying for them, I became aware of an angel standing over them...

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Victimized By Gaslighting? 5 Steps to Finding Freedom

Read Time: 2 minutes 26 seconds The term "gaslighting" has gone viral across social media this year and Merriam-Webster chose it as their word-of-the-year, saying searches for the word spiked 1,740% in 2022 alone. We're breaking down what the Bible has to say about...

Learn How to Be Grateful From Those Who Have So Little

Learn How to Be Grateful From Those Who Have So Little

Read Time: 3 Minutes 18 Seconds Looking around my hometown of Los Angeles, my heart soars with gratitude. My home is safe, my bills are paid and I was fortunate to be able to serve my family an ample Thanksgiving meal. And yet, I am fully aware that hundreds of...

RECENT ARTICLES

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional and Spiritual Health

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds Do you believe the Lord is concerned about your emotional and spiritual health? He is. He wants you to know how to improve your emotional and spiritual health to be...
I Never Thought I’ve Have to Say This: Jesus Was Not Trans

I Never Thought I’ve Have to Say This: Jesus Was Not Trans

Read Time: 3 Minutes 27 Seconds You may have heard about the controversy that erupted in Cambridge, England, this past Sunday at Trinity College. The preacher, Joshua Heath, a junior research fellow who has a Ph.D. in theology, offered a sermon in which he suggested...

Prophetic Word: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Prophetic Word: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Read Time: 4 Minutes 48 Seconds At a recent gathering where a person was struggling, I heard and declared by the Spirit of the Lord, “Goodness is following you; turn and see. Embrace His goodness in this moment and watch the shift!” There was an immediate shift and...

Why Becoming Like God Requires Special Effort

Why Becoming Like God Requires Special Effort

Read Time: 2 Minutes 7 Seconds We can walk with God and come into unity with Him by clothing ourselves in His nature. This will require that we restrict and control the desires of the flesh by putting our focus on obtaining the very substance and characteristics of...

3 Reasons for Hope This Advent Season

3 Reasons for Hope This Advent Season

Read Time: 3 Minutes 6 Seconds I didn’t grow up celebrating Advent. When I was little, we put up a tree, got presents and had a Christmas Eve service. It seemed to me that most grown-ups were stressed over Christmas and thankful when it was all over. It wasn’t until...

How To Be Hilariously Happy in Your Giving

How To Be Hilariously Happy in Your Giving

Read Time: 4 Minutes 17 Seconds The day after Thanksgiving is culturally called Black Friday, in the U.S. It marks the beginning of retail sales that could ensure a successful and profitable Christmas-gift-buying season. Black Friday In decades past, book-keepers...

Pin It on Pinterest