Center for Lifelong Learning Provides Online Certificate for Elders

Center for Lifelong Learning Provides Online Certificate for Elders

November 18, 2017—The Presbytery of Wabash Valley based in Rochester, IN recently completed its first course as part of a new effort to provide online education for leaders in local churches. A new Ruling Elder Certificate Program was created by The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA near Atlanta.

This fall, Dr. Ryan Bonfiglio, Lecturer in Old Testament served as the instructor. “I’ve really enjoyed the online Old Testament course with Wabash Valley,” said Dr. Bonfiglio, “I love interacting with the students—plus it serves to refine my own skills as an online instructor.”

“Our partnership with the Wabash Valley Presbytery is going very well,” agreed Dr. Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education for the seminary. “Dr. Bonfiglio is an excellent online instructor who skillfully builds anticipation for future conversations and sets a friendly and inviting tone.”

Asked for feedback about the program, one participant stated, “The questions posed throughout the forums were thought-provoking and allowed for a delightful exchange among the students. The instructor did a great job of allowing us to express our own thoughts, while making sure that we stayed on task on the specific subject for that session.”

Another participant noted, “The first insight I gained was that the Old Testament was not as intimidating as I once thought. The course presented the Old Testament in a manner that I could understand and appreciate.”

“Many members of our world-class faculty have expressed interest in teaching courses in the future,” continued Dr. Galindo. “And I am certain that groups from every part of the country will be interested in the opportunities a program like the Ruling Elder Certificate Program can offer for those seeking more depth in their theological training.”

Courses on the New Testament and Psalms area already scheduled for next year. Online education has become a major emphasis on Columbia Seminary as its Board of Trustees approved a plan for a Masters level degree program, and even Doctoral level degree. In the meantime, new hybrid approaches for courses are already being used at Columbia Seminary. The Center for Lifelong Learning is offering opportunities for learning and growth, like the Ruling Elder Certificate Program, through online education virtually every month.

“Contrary to common misperceptions, the online experience offers high interaction with instructors and peers,” noted Dr. Leanne VanDyk, President at Columbia Theological Seminary. “Benefits of online learning include engaging dialogue with diverse groups of people and experienced instructors, and the ability to participate from anywhere with internet access.”

Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

 Learn more about online education opportunities HERE.

Media Contacts:

Dr. Israel Galindo
Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education

Michael Thompson
Director of Communications

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