by Clay Herrmann
National Park College is not the only institution of higher learning headquartered in Garland County, Arkansas. Founded a decade ago, Champion Christian College is located at 600 Garland Avenue in Hot Springs on a campus and grounds adjacent to Gospel Light Baptist Church.
Students moving on from high school who may not be interested in spending two or four years pursuing a pastoral calling or other church-related work may still find reason to spend a couple of semesters at Champion before moving on to other larger institutions, or before entering the workforce to pursue “secular” careers. Offerings include one-year certificate programs in Bible, Criminal Justice, Worship Leadership, Sports Management, and Management & Leadership. All of the one-year certificate programs include 3-semester hours of Old Testament Survey and 3-semester hours of New Testament Survey among the course requirements.
Current degrees offered include:
- Pastoral Studies
- Church Administration
- Youth Ministry
- Missions – Men
- Missions – Ladies
- Elementary Christian Education
- Secondary Christian Education
- Music Ministry
- Christian Sports Management
- Associates of Church Office Administration
Today’s Champion Christian College was first established as Champion Baptist College in 2005 in affiliation with Gospel Light Baptist Church. High-energy CCC President and GLBC Pastor Eric Capaci’s vision for the school has been a persistent driving force for it’s initial inception and continuing development. Transitions in the last couple of years include a partnership with Central Baptist College in Conway that provides the benefit of accreditation for some of the course offerings and a name change from Champion Baptist College to Champion Christian College that removed the Baptist denominational label. That name change potentially alienates some Baptists, but on the flip-side serves to welcome faculty, staff, and students who are Christian of other denominations, as well as others who embrace no denominational identity. Today the college’s faculty, staff, and student body reflects that increased diversity. The school also enjoys the involvement of a number of local government officials, business and professional leaders, and other community leaders who serve on an advisory council. The college is also currently engaged in the somewhat tedious process of seeking full accreditation through the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
Champion Christian College President Eric Capaci is Interviewed by Hot Springs Daily about the past, present, and future of the Hot Springs based institution.
(CCC President Eric Capaci-https://youtu.be/zXc_f8jrqgo)
Champion’s focus on educating students for various forms of Christian service is comparable in some measure to the historical reasons for the founding of some of America’s oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning. For example the following is recorded about Harvard, which advertises itself to be “the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.” :
New England’s First Fruits – 1640
(From Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1792, Vol 1., 242-248).
The History of the Founding of Harvard College
“AFTER GOD HAD carried us safe to New England, and we had built our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and led the civil government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust. And as we were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard (a godly gentleman and a lover of learning, there living among us) to give the one-half of his estate (it being in all about £700) toward the [found]ing of a college, and all his library. After him, another gave £300; others after them cast in more; and the public hand of the state added the rest. The college was, by common consent, appointed to be at Cambridge (a place very pleasant and accommodate) and is called (according to the name of the first founder) Harvard College.”
Harvard’s original seal and motto. “Truth (Veritas) for Christ (Christo) and the Church (Ecclesiae),” in Latin was adopted in 1692. Over time and by degrees the institution abandoned it’s original focus, to the point of being largely adversarial to Christianity today. The current official seal has removed “Christ and the Church.”
Harvard is not the only Ivy League university initially founded for the explicit and primary purpose of educating Christian ministers for future generations. Princeton and Yale are additional examples of several other colonial institutions originally founded for that singular purpose. Prospective Champion Christian College students will likely be relieved that admission requirements are greatly relaxed academically from what was typical of the colonial institutions of higher-learning. Consider that Harvard’s original admission requirements included a high level of competency in the languages of both Latin and Greek! That was an admittance requirement … NOT a competency to be attained before graduation.
The flag of Princeton University displays the school’s shield and motto. The open book is inscribed with “Vet. Nov. Testamentum” (Old and New Testament). The motto, “Dei Sub Numine Viget,” translates as “Under the Protection of God She Flourishes.”
Yale University motto: אורים ותמים (Hebrew) (Urim V’Thummim) Lux et veritas (Latin for “light and truth”)
For the institution that became the University of Pennsylvania, founder Benjamin Franklin envisioned a curriculum not just for the educating of clergy, but also for the arts and for practical education for commerce and public service. Still, as evidenced by the school’s official seal symbolism, theology was not relegated to a subordinate position of importance.
Notice that “THEOLOG” (Theology: Study of God) tops the stack of academic volumes in the University of Pennslvania’s official seal. Penn dates its founding to 1740, Philadelphians erected a great preaching hall (that for a time was the largest building in Philadelphia, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in) for prominent traveling evangelist George Whitfield, with a view that it would double as both a charity school and house of worship. “… in 1749, Benjamin Franklin—printer, inventor and future founding father of the United States—published his famous essay, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth, circulated it among Philadelphia’s leading citizens, and organized 24 trustees to form an institution of higher education based on his proposals … The group purchased Whitefield’s “New Building” and in 1751, opened its doors to children of the gentry and working class alike as the Academy and Charitable School in the Province of Pennsylvania. Franklin served as president of the institution until 1755 and continued to serve as a trustee until his death in 1790.” (http://www.upenn.edu/about/history)
Now a senior, business administration major Amber Workman came to Champion Christian College from far away Denver, North Carolina. Conversation about school life includes the topic of relationships and dating, character and trust, academics, a senior’s “burden of expectation”, and her part-time work for a prominent local attorney.
Luke Biter is currently having difficulty staying focused on his academics, for the same sort of reason that many young men in coeducational colleges suffer from distraction.
6’5″ish Cody Connor, who grew up in China and is fluent in Mandarin, is a good guy (for those of us challenged enough just by English) to take to a party or other social event where there will be Chinese speakers who think they can get away with openly engaging in covert conversation with fellow Chinese right in front of us. Yes, he is also on the men’s basketball team.
A Champion student who actually grew up in Hot Springs, Freshman Elijah Kemp is intending to follow a pre-law track and hopes to be accepted into law school at U of A in Fayetteville in the future.
From a large home-schooled family, Lydia Parks is daughter of a former Arkansas legislator and traveled to China to add two zero-English-speaking sisters to her immediate family.
Arkansas’ summer heat challenged Elijah Smoot to reconsider the wisdom of his decision to move from his home in Maryland to enroll at Champion.
Champion offers intercollegiate athletics in Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Volleyball and is a member of the Association of Christian College Athletics. Apologies to former student and current faculty member and coach James Manthe for the background noise. Interview was NOT done in the engine-room of an ocean-going freighter, as might be guessed. Didn’t use an external interview microphone, and the camera’s built-in did an exceptionally good job of picking up the noisy air-handler servicing the room. Will try to do better in the future.
- For more information visit the Champion Christian College website at http://championchristiancollege.com.
- Call Ashley Connor at 501-625-2333, extension 34, to schedule a visit and tour of the campus.
- For visitors, Champion Suites on the 3rd floor of the college dormitory are reasonably priced and can be reserved through Annette Sepe at 501-625-2333, extension 31, or if you prefer staff can suggest several area hotels for your lodging consideration.