EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 5, 2012

Zion Bible College pushes for more growth

New president to drive enrollment past 400

By Shawn Regan sregan@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL — Zion Bible College has a new leader — and he will oversee the growing school that trains students to be ministers, missionaries and Christian workers.

The college’s Board of Trustees said it has elected Dr. David Arnett to be its next president.

Zion has grown from 200 students when it took over the vacant Bradford College campus four years ago to 400 students now. Zion officials said they plan to continue increasing the enrollment.

The school has plenty of room for new students. When Bradford College closed because of financial problems in 2000, it had more than 500 students, the vast majority of them living in dorms on the campus.

Arnett, vice president for Academic Affairs at Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo., is scheduled to take over Zion following an inauguration ceremony May 10, the same day as the college’s graduation exercises.

Arnett is a professor of homiletics, pastoral ministries and theology. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Bible College and advanced religious degrees from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

Arnett will replace the Rev. Charles Crabtree, who is retiring at the end of the school year. Crabtree has led the school since it moved to Haverhill from Barrington, R.I., in 2008. Prior to that, the campus of the former Bradford College was vacant for eight years.

Crabtree said the school has doubled its enrollment from about 200 when it opened here four years ago to about 400 today.

“We want to keep growing until we fill the dorms,” he said, noting there are about 350 dormitory rooms for students on the historic, 18-acre campus.

Crabtree also said the college is planning to add a master’s degree program in January and expand its online course offerings. It also is beginning a capital campaign to renovate Denworth Hall into a modern theater, which will be renamed Gibson Hall after the Rev. Christine Gibson, who founded the religious school in 1924, he said. The college is also changing its name to Northpoint Bible College on Jan. 1.

Prior to this weekend, Arnett said he had visited Massachusetts only once before, having attended graduation at Gordon College in Wenham three years ago.

In a telephone interview, Arnett said he arrived here Sunday and spent several days meeting college leaders, faculty and staff, and students.

“We’re just getting to know the area,” he said Tuesday while house-shopping in Haverhill. He flew back to Missouri on Wednesday.

“I’ll be flying back and forth from time to time until I officially start in May,” Arnett said. “We’re looking forward to moving here and working to grow and advance the college.”

Arnett said his wife, Kathy, executive director for Alumni Relations at Central Bible College, will be coming with him to Haverhill. He said she will likely work for Zion in some capacity.

According to a press release put out by the college, Arnett has served at churches in New Mexico, Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri, and has helped start eight churches and a Christian academy. The press release said Arnett travels extensively, preaching and teaching throughout the country.

Zion Bible College and Central Bible College are among 19 private Bible colleges in the Assemblies of God system. Each school’s curriculum is designed to educate and train ministers, missionaries and Christian workers.