A ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the RTS/Jackson Library inaugurated a remarkable partnership between RTS/Jackson and the Ekklesia School of Theology and Ministry.

Ekklesia, a ministry of New Horizon Church International, is committed to the spiritual formation and equipping of church and ministry leaders, future seminary students, and anyone called to serious theological study from a historically Reformed perspective.

Ekklesia will offer evening classes in the RTS Library starting this spring.

The ceremony included an opening prayer and Scripture reading by members of Ekklesia and New Horizon.  Dr. Guy Richardson, president of RTS Jackson, welcomed the guests.  “God is working in sweet and special ways in Jackson.  We have facilities and resources to share and we are thrilled to be a part of this,” he said. (Richardson, pictured to the right of the podium is shaking hands with the president of Ekklesia, Ethel Brown.)

Dr. Ric Cannada, chancellor of RTS, (pictured to the right of Dr. Richardson) shared a brief history of the relationship between RTS Jackson and Ekklesia.  “RTS was started to preserve traditional Christianity and maintain the doctrine that the Bible is the Word of God without error.  We quickly realized that other denominations were facing the same issues and RTS has been mission-minded from the beginning.”

Dr. Cannada explained that he has seen the Lord’s providence in the advent of Ekklesia through signs such as the founding of the African Bible College which still has its headquarters on the RTS/Jackson campus, the growth of ministries like RUF at Jackson State University, and graduates such as Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Pastor Jerry Young, and Rev. Dolphus Weary who lead prominent ministries in Jackson.  “I hope we can spend more time together, grow closer to each other, and grow together in the Lord,” said Dr. Cannada.

Rev. Henry Joseph, pastor for missions at New Horizon, explained that Ekkesia and RTS/Jackson share the same theological roots.  “Ekklesia is cemented in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We hold traditional Reformed theological beliefs.  The music may be different and our church service might take double the time as yours, but we believe in the whole counsel of God,” he quipped.

Rev. Joseph went on to explain that the dual purpose of Ekklesia is to contextualize the gospel for their church community and to prepare students for undergraduate, masters, and PhD studies.

Rev. John Parrish, 78-year-old retired executive pastor of New Horizon, closed the ceremony.  With tears in his eyes and words interrupted by emotion, he simply said, “I’m glad I’m here to see this.”