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WV Prisoners First to Graduate from Bible College

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MONTGOMERY, WV (WOAY) – Twenty-one inmates at Mount Olive Correctional Complex became the first graduating class of Mount Olive Bible College on January 22. A commencement ceremony in the maximum-security prison’s gym featured remarks by Governor Jim Justice and Commissioner Betsy Jividen of the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Students and faculty from Appalachian Bible College provided music. Dr. Daniel Anderson, President of Appalachian Bible College, gave the commencement address entitled “Finally…” and taken from Philippians 4:8-9. Many family members attended, along with corrections staff and dignitaries.

Eleven graduates were recognized for achieving highest honors (GPA 3.85-4.0), six for high honors (3.6-3.84), and two for honors (3.30-3.59). All twenty-one men, dressed in caps and gowns, crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. In keeping with Appalachian Bible College tradition, each graduate was also granted a Servant’s Mantle—a symbolic towel printed with the words “Trained to Serve.”

Mount Olive Bible College is an additional location of Appalachian Bible College of Mount Hope. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilitates MOBC as a moral rehabilitation program. Appalachian Bible College and Catalyst Ministries partner to provide the donor-supported program at no cost to the students or taxpayers.

Jim Rubenstein, former Commissioner of Corrections, initiated the establishment of MOBC after hearing of the success of a Bible college within Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola. Beginning in September 2014, MOBC became the third program of its kind in the U.S. Twenty-six students enrolled that first semester, and this year has seen MOBC’s largest enrollment: forty-one full-time students.

Like Appalachian Bible College, MOBC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). All MOBC students major in both Bible/Theology and Pastoral Ministry, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts degree.

A sampling of required courses includes Bible Study Methods, Bible Doctrines, English Composition, Sociology, Apologetics, and Homiletics. Appalachian Bible College faculty commute to teach these courses in a designated classroom in the Industries building of the Complex.

MOBC students must also participate in Field Service, which gives them regular opportunity to put into practice what they learn in the classroom. Field Service assignments include leading in chapel and Bible studies, and assisting in the library, medical ward, and mental health ward.

One MOBC student says, “The Bible College is helping us make positive changes in our community, as we mature into men of God and capable leaders.”

Another shares, “Mount Olive Bible College has sparked a new hope and ambition in my life and has shown me that we can reshape our world; we can change lives. Every man, regardless of their past, can share in this hope. I thank God for the opportunity that I have been provided.”

As West Virginia’s only accredited Bible college, Appalachian Bible College has been training men and women to serve in church-related ministries since 1950. ABC offers Bible Certificate, Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts programs, including online courses. The 150-acre campus is located just north of Beckley, WV. Learn more at ABC.edu.



Tyler Barker

Tyler Barker is currently the Interim News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. I was promoted to this job in Mid-November. I still will fill in on weather from time to time. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email me at tbarker@woay.com


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