For the first time ever, female offenders in the Georgia Department of Corrections system graduated from an Associate of Arts program with a degree in Christian Ministry as part of partnership to encourage offenders to serve their peers while in prison and serve their communities upon release.
The ten women graduates are all housed at the Whitworth Women’s Facility in Hartwell, Georgia. The medium security level facility houses approximately 440 women.
These ten females were the first class to graduate through the program with the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) Leavell College Extension Center. The NOBTS program has been teaching the curriculum across the southeast since 1917, but started at Whitworth WF in 2019.
The NOBTS Leavell College Extension Center offers offenders a two-year, 76-semester hour associate degree in Christian Ministry. The first class of graduates will now begin the four-year, 126-semester hour Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministry. These fully accredited college degrees are designed to provide a broad foundation for ministry within the prison system. They are based upon eight core competencies: Biblical Exposition, Christian Heritage, Servant Leadership, Interpersonal Relationships, Spiritual and Character Formation, Disciple Making, Worship Leadership, and Life Skills. As the women move through the program, they’ll have the opportunity to select a specific major, including: Christian Ministry Biblical Studies, Christian Worldview and Apologetics, Psychology and Counseling, Pastoral Ministry, Worship Ministry, or Music with an emphasis in Worship.
“I am proud of the hard work, dedication and commitment these offenders have shown toward meeting their goals and graduating with their Associate Degrees,” Commissioner Timothy C. Ward said in a news release. “We appreciate our partnership with NOBTS and Heartbound Ministries in assisting offenders with positive change within themselves and the walls of the facilities.”
In addition to earning a degree, the offenders serve as ministers to their peers within the Georgia prison system under the direction of a Chaplain, and ultimately return to their communities as prepared leaders.