Popular Christian school to open in Monroe

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 11:58 AM

One of the fastest growing Christian schools in the country is coming to Monroe. Life Christian University plans to start classes in May.

“We want students to become focused and know what God’s will is for their lives,” dean Sharen Lightsey said. “Then go out there with boldness and get it done.”

LCU is ministry-focused and designed for those who lack time to commit to traditional educational programs. A student can earn a bachelor’s degree in four years taking one three-hour course a week. Master’s and doctorate degrees are available, and students not seeking a degree can audit.  

LCU campuses are often associated with churches – in this case, Life Church in Monroe – but offer the same curriculum. LCU is non-denominational and accredited through Transworld Accrediting Commission International, a non-governmental accreditation. Areas of study include theology, pastoral ministry, Christian counseling and education, music ministry, and church administration. Every student takes program one, a nine-month program that includes study in biblical finances, the life and teachings of Christ, and divine healing. 

Like the Rev. Lightsey and her husband, Dr. R. J. Lightsey, who will teach at LCU, instructors Mark Gallowitch and Daniel Mathieu live in Union County. The Lightseys founded Lightsey Ministries Inc. of Monroe and are part of the pastoral team at Life Church of Monroe.

LCU’s main campus is just outside Tampa, Fla. Founded in 1995, the university has more than 100 campuses across the United States and abroad. The closest one is in Concord, N.C., where Robert Jackson recently earned his bachelor’s in theology. He is working toward his master’s.

“The professors don’t just open the book and go through the syllabus,” he said. “It’s more personal.”

Jackson has four children and was considering a Bible college in Colorado before hearing about LCU just half an hour from his home. It took him a while to earn his degree, he said, but he was able to do it with a flexible schedule and at “a reasonable price.” He calls the professors “seasoned in the Word.”

Establishing a LCU campus in Monroe means locals not only get a Christian education but also earn a degree doing it. Those seeking a degree in Christian studies won’t have to relocate or change jobs to do so, admissions director Thom Duarte said.

Duarte serves as director of PT1615 Ministries in Monroe, which includes prison ministry and disaster relief efforts. It was through PT1615 that Duarte started the Monroe School of Ministry and Evangelism a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t accredited and participants couldn’t earn a degree. Even Duarte’s own education at a Bible institute in Tennessee earned him an education but no degree. He hopes to earn a doctorate at LCU.

“Many Christian colleges and universities only employ those that have a degree,” he said. “I see it as a greater opportunity to reach a greater number of people. … It also says to pastors/directors that ‘this person is willing to do the work required.’”

LCU emphasizes low tuition, offering one year of undergraduate studies (30 credit hours) at $1,440 including books and fees. One year working toward a master’s (35 credit hours) would be $2,090, and a year of doctoral studies (45 credit hours) would be $2,250. Transfer credits may be accepted, and in-house, interest-free student loans are available.

Classes begin May 7. Tuesday classes will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday classes will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. All classes meet at Life Church of Monroe, 1721 N. Charlotte Ave.

For more information, call 704-289-4911 or email lifechristianuniversitymonroe@aol.com.