Josh Stigall, Briercrest’s new assistant professor of New Testament and director of continuing and distance education (CDE) knows firsthand the power that just one distance education class can have.
When he graduated from college at Briercrest in 1998 and took a youth pastorate at First Baptist Church in Fairfield, California, he was sure he was finished with his formal education.
“I never ever wanted to study again,” he said with a grin. “I wanted to be a youth pastor forever.”
That was until he took a Greek language class through Briercrest distance education.
“I always thought Greek was for nerds, right?” Stigall said laughing. “I had no desire to be a Bible nerd. But I took a distance education class and just loved it. That began to spur the desire to study.”
Distance education was the perfect way for Stigall to become assured that this interest in studying wasn’t just a passing phase.
“It gave me the chance to test the waters of academics again without having to make a wholesale move on a whim,” he said. “So I was able to take a few classes and realize, ‘Yes, I really do want to study again.’”
The desire to study eventually brought Stigall and his family back to Briercrest for an M.Div and then on to Baylor University in Waco, Texas for a Ph.D. This month he and his family returned to Caronport for his new job at Briercrest.
Brian Gobbett, Associate Dean of Briercrest is pleased at Stigall’s return.
“We are thrilled that Josh and Laura have returned to Briercrest,” he said. “While at Baylor, Josh distinguished himself as a particularly outstanding doctoral student, including being named the recipient of a highly coveted teaching award. His appointment to our Biblical Studies faculty and as Director of Continuing and Distance Education builds upon the considerable strengths we have in both areas and holds much promise for future development.”
In his new position at Briercrest, Stigall looks forward to providing even more students with the encouragement and ability to move forward in their studies.
“As we have more truly online courses . . . distance education can be an entry way for people living in B.C. or somewhere in the U.S. or anywhere else in Canada,” he explained. “That could lead to people coming full time and moving to Caronport or taking modular classes in the seminary.”
Stigall credits his college and seminary years at Briercrest for helping him to develop in several key areas of his life.
“I was a relatively new Christian when I came to the college – I became a Christian when I was 17,” he explained. “So just a year and a half later I was at Briercrest. The spiritual formation part of the Briercrest experience was very important to me . . . learning to live as a Christian. “
“In the seminary stage, learning that I could be a serious Christian and a serious scholar was really important to me. While I was here, Marty Culy was my mentor. He really encouraged me. I think I always had those gifts but I never wanted to develop them because it was hard. To know I could be a professor and serve the church was really important. That’s what spurred me on to Ph.D. studies.”
Stigall says his new position at Briercrest fits his strengths.
“My personality is such that I’m not interested in sitting in an office all day by myself or in a library cubicle all day,” he said. “I like to be with people. That’s why the director position is very appealing to me because I am able to work with a team and move them toward a common goal. Hopefully we can put people in the right positions so we exceed and excel.”
The CDE director feels that distance education can help Briercrest further its mission.
“I love Briercrest and I love what Briercrest does and what Briercrest has stood for in the past and what some of the future may hold,” he stated. “I’m particularly excited as we move toward university status. Our mission of training pastors and missionaries and ministers can continue alongside training lay people – that just expands what we’re doing.”