“Here’s the Cuba story we’ve been praying for,” Dr. Bruce Corley said, “a first class of master’s graduates!” The milestone event happened the week of October 22-25, 2014, when the Carroll team met Cuban students and their families for a grand celebration in Primera Iglesia Bautista de Camagüey. What began as a dream in a small group of planners has become reality in the lives and ministries of dozens of Cuban church leaders.
The long-awaited graduation ceremony was hosted by First Baptist Church and led by Pastor Abel Gonzalez, his staff, and church choir. Dr. Corley preached the graduation sermon from Hebrews 12:1-3, and Dr. Adlin Cotto, director of the Cuba program, presented the graduates. Dr. Gene Wilkes, president of Carroll, conferred the master’s degrees for 22 students and also recognized 176 who received certificates of ministry. Greg and Gail Boyd and Doug Rees, key partners in the work from Park Cities Baptist Church, attended the ceremony. “Seldom do you experience
the realization of a God-sized vision in such a way,” said Dr. Wilkes. “To know the work, prayers and investments over the last seven years that resulted in church leaders who are now equipped with accredited theological degrees is awe inspiring. We are grateful to the Lord and his people for this historic event.”
Dr. Wilkes introduced the highlight of the ceremony—the dedication of the Buddy Rees School of Ministry—and presented plaques commemorating the event to Pastor Gonzalez and the Rees family. Doug Rees responded to the church and the graduates with gratitude and a challenge for them to continue the ministry his father, Buddy, dearly loved.
The Buddy Rees School of Ministry
A significant aspect of the mission statement for B. H. Carroll Theological Institute relates to global initiatives in theological education. Buddy Rees, leader of the Cuba Ministry Team for Park Cities Baptist Church, saw such a need in 2005 and grasped the opportunity to undertake a groundbreaking partnership ministry.
“Uncle Buddy,” as the Cubans knew him, brought together the leadership of key churches and institutions in Cuba for a joint venture in Christian training. What a blessing to see students—pastors, teachers, and church leaders— come together from all across the island. Now, his friends and family have honored his enduring legacy and tireless devotion to this work by naming the ongoing ministry “The Buddy Rees School of Ministry” sponsored in the First Baptist Church of Camagüey. The Rees School will give a permanent setting for training in this important teaching church.
Carroll’s Story in Cuba
Beginning in 2007 in partnership with Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas, classes were offered for master’s level students and lay-leader training. Student participants—pastors, teachers, and church leaders—came from the length and breadth of the island, supported by Cuban churches and schools. Twelve trips were made from the states for the intensive teaching sessions led by fourteen different professors. Here’s the fruit of the labor:
First Cohort of MA Students
63 qualified students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Theology, 32 hours with capstone comprising 24 on-site classes taught in Spanish. A first cohort of 22 students has completed the program.
Classes at the “Farm”
Developed and supported an educational curriculum in Cuban churches at the certificate and diploma levels to produce a trained leadership for ministry. More than 800 certificates have been earned, and 176 certificates were presented in the graduation.
Identified and prepared master’s students who exhibit the aptitude and dedication to complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree and who will serve as theological educators in Cuba. One student has enrolled in the doctoral program.
Our Cuba experience is the result of ordinary people walking with an extraordinary God. These students work hard. They love the Lord and His church. They flourish in spite of their circumstances. I know graduation for most of them meant the end of a journey. For us, it is barely the beginning.
Dr. Adlin Cotto
How You Can Help
Our goal is to raise $200,000 in order to provide scholarships that will cover the accumulated costs of the current graduates and to allow almost 50 other students to complete their course work. An additional $6,000 per student per year will be raised to begin a new cohort of Master’s in Theology students who will complete their work in four years. We can only begin this cohort when the monies are either pledged or given.
Please prayerfully consider giving a financial gift or making a pledge to the Buddy Rees School of Ministry fund through B. H. Carroll Theological Institute. You can give online on our website or mail a donation to B. H. Carroll Theological Institute, 301 S. Center Street, Suite 100, Arlington, TX 76010. Note that your gift is for the Buddy Rees School of Ministry. All gifts are tax deductible and will be used solely for the Cuban degree programs.