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Bible college meeting challenges of decades

SOUTH POINT — It’s been 40 years since Walter E. Staten came back to his hometown of South Point from a pastorate in Wisconsin to lead a dream.

That dream was the creation of a non-denominational Bible college. Next week that vision, now called the Tri-State Bible College, is pulling out the stops to celebrate its first four decades as an educational resource.

“We are here to learn the word of God and to prepare those for the ministry,” Jack Finch, TSBC president, said.

Finch took over the helm of the college about 18 months ago after 30 years as an educator in the Chesapeake school system.

“The Lord opened the door and it is a wonderful ministry,” he said. “I felt that this was what I was to do.”

Since its inception more than 200 have graduated from the campus down the lane of a residential neighborhood in South Point. There men and women have gone forward to add their ministries, whether as a pastor or musician or educator, into the world.

Now alumni, community members and supporters will gather to mark the college’s 40th anniversary.

“We want to invite all the churches and the community,” Finch said. “We are celebrating the Lord and his word for the ministry here. We felt we wanted to honor 40 years of faithfulness, and making aware of our mission to the community. What better a time than the milestone of 40 years.”

The four-day celebration begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the campus with a prayer service. There Finch, Chancellor Clifford Marquardt and John Wright, TSBC’s board president, will speak, along with Norma Jean Staten, widow of the founder.

Thursday will be an Appreciation Dinner at Pullman Plaza Hotel where Dr. David Warren of the Ohio Association of Regular Baptist churches, will be the keynote speaker.

The Presidents Dinner will be Friday with Dewey Griffith, former TSBC president, as the keynote speaker, also at Pullman Plaza.

Then on Saturday will be the college’s graduation with Dr. James L. Flanagan, president of Luther Rice Seminary, speaking.

Over the years Tri-State has grown into a two-location educational facility, with a second school that opened in Akron. That came about after pastors of St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church there contacted the South Point campus about a possible additional location.

“They were looking for a certain type of school,” Marquardt said. “They liked our catalogue and doctrine.”

That location opened in January with 70 students.

Growth continues at the South Point college where students can take classes on campus, through correspondence and online.

“We are aggressively pursuing online courses,” Finch said. “We are also in negotiations with Rio Grande University to offer a religious minor.”

But one of the biggest advances on the drawing board will be the construction of a 12,000-square foot building on the South Point campus that will offer 11 classrooms, a student center and new library.

Right now, college officials are conducting a feasibility study as a precursor to a capital campaign with a potential goal of $3 million.

“We are trying to serve,” Finch said. “We are not trying to be anything than what He wants us to be.”

Events on Wednesday and Saturday are free. Tickets for the Thursday dinner are $100 per person and $25 per person for the Friday dinner. They may be purchased through the college at 740-377-2520.