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Year End Letter from the Dean of City Vision College

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 Written by:                                Fletcher L. Tink, Academic Dean

City Vision College: New Face, New Opportunities”

On January 1st, 2008,  Rescue College died!

No, not really!   It merely went through a transformation, a metamorphosis much like a caterpillar that emerges from the cocoon as a butterfly, awkwardly stretching its wings for new life under the altered identity of City Vision College.

Rescue College was a creation of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions focused on preparing staff and urban ministers to better fulfill their ministries in the complex world of mission development.  But at the beginning of 2008, it was passed on to TechMission, an organization based in suburban Boston committed to the marriage of three in one:  Christ, the City and Technology.  This group of sixteen “techies” under the direction and founder, Andrew Sears, assumed the mantle of Rescue College as consistent with its goal of “Transforming Communities through Innovation.”

The transformation has not occurred without hazard.  To change web “platforms” from home-brew to Moodle, is a radical change of environment, requiring substantial rearranging of course materials and specialized training for professors and students.  Like the butterfly, it is taken time to work out the kinks.

TechMission (www.techmission.org) is an appropriate sponsor.  It is well networked into the larger field of urban ministry and partners with many organizations including World Vision, the Christian Community Development Association, Here’s Life Inner City, and a dozen more groups.  It sustains seven web sites and programs of internet protection, volunteering, and a web page fast becoming the “Bill Gates” heavy for urban ministry resources (www.urbanministry.org).  There it strives to accumulate 100,000 resources pieces within the next 3-4 years.

All of this creates wonderful advantage for City Vision College:

1.             Because of TechMission’s partnerships, many resources are now available to be integrated seamlessly into the undergraduate curriculum.

2.             TechMission is very proactive in expanding the advertising base of CVC.   With increased advertising comes improved enrollment.  More people outside of the AGRM network enrolled, guarantees stronger viability for the quality and permanence of the program.   TechMission, through its subsidiary, City Vision College, is now an active presence and recruiter at a variety of urban ministry-oriented conferences and gatherings.

3.             TechMission is actively pursuing a variety of partnerships with major organizations and educational institutions to “capture” a niche of their own training programs.  This brings their training resources into CVC, including tailor-made coursework, joint presentations and an expansion of the teaching base.

4.             City Vision now operates with personnel in two parts of the country, both in Kansas City and Dorchester, MA, and employ an expanded staff to work on both the quality of the materials and the technological support.

5.             Given the intimate history, City Vision has an arrangement to provide substantial scholarship assistance, or discounted pricing, for those institutional or individual members.   Similar arrangements are being developed with other organizations.

6.             TechMission and CVC are near finalizing the Title IV government grant to provide Pell grants for qualified students.  In many instances this should cover most, if not all of the cost of tuition.

7.             In addition to the two existing “tracks” of studies, non-profit management and ministry, we now offer a third track in addiction studies.  Eventually up to nine courses will be provided, along with certification. 

8.             New courses are being generated.  Mustard Seed is financing an experimental course with free tuition for the first twenty-five students entitled, “Theology of Work” due out this coming year.   This course is for newcomers in the program and gives a Biblical basis for finding and empowering ministry in vocation outside of the church setting, in the market and service domains.  This will be given in a six week format.  A new three week course on “Volunteering” is being developed for understanding the roles and responsibilities of volunteer services both as supervisor and as participant.

9.             The existing courses are being reduced from 9-10 weeks to 8 weeks to harmonize better with vacations and academic calendars.

10.          TechMission is now working closely with rescue missions to combine internships with CVC coursework.  With its unique history of getting government contracts for AmeriCorps placements in computer centers around the country, it now is actively seeking to use similar arrangements with select and approved Missions.    

Ultimately City Vision College is validated by the stories it tells.  For instance, one student in the course, “Theology and Strategy of Missions”, was required as a final project to write up an experience of “Saying and Symbolizing Thanks to the City for Grace Discovered.”  She chose to go to the poorest section of her northern Illinois city and walk the streets, praying before each house for its occupants.  Then she called the mayor’s office to thank him for his services to the community and to pray God’s guidance for him.  It took considerable persistence but she was given a mere five minutes appointment.  When she arrived and met him, he was so shocked that a constituent did not come with complaints and demands and so moved by her initiative, he called the rest of his staff in to be prayed over, lingering together for more than a half hour. 

Soon other government agencies were asking her to come and pray.  She says that the relationship between her ministry and City Hall and other agencies has dramatically changed as a result, facilitating a spirit of cooperation heretofore missing.  Indeed recently, the mayor called her to ask her to pray for his sick wife.

City Vision College not only stirs academic responsibility, but has an increasing role in preparing its students to become transformative agents in their ministries and communities.