Appalachian School of Theology Celebrates First Graduating Class
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Appalachian School of Theology Celebrates First Graduating Class

New school offers affordable, practical biblical studies on site and online

May 15, 2024
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Born from the passion of several BGAV pastors in southwest Virginia who felt the great need for solid theological education in their region, the Appalachian School of Theology (AST) celebrated its first graduating class on May 5, 2024, at First Baptist Church in Nickelsville. The following article was written by Steve Collins about the experience.

Steve Collins (center) helps greet attendees of AST's inaugural graduation ceremony in May 2024.

The Appalachian School of Theology (ATS) was formed and incorporated in January of 2018, and we began offering classes in Fall 2018. 

Of the eleven graduates in our first class, one earned the Certificate of Biblical Studies (30 hours), and 10 earned the Advanced Certificate of Biblical Studies (45 hours). All students graduated with honors. 

Our journey to form and develop ATS hasn't been easy; it has been forged and fueled by the passion of our faculty to provide local, practical, and affordable theological training to those who sense God's call on their lives. 

We have applied for and are awaiting the following:

·      status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization from the IRS,

·      recognition as a school of religious training from the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, and

·     full accreditation from a private accrediting organization. 

Once we receive official approval from these organizations, we will move beyond the Certificate Program and begin offering theological degrees at the levels of Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate. All will be offered at an affordable cost to make sure we do not exclude anyone seeking to better equip themselves to serve in various capacities throughout the Kingdom. In addition, we are currently in the process of developing online classes that will afford students the ability to progress at their own pace and greatly reduce the amount of time in which a student can complete their studies. 

Graduates and AST faculty pose together after the 2024 graduation ceremony.

Alongside teaching a great number of domestic students in person and online, we are currently meeting weekly online with international pastors and church leaders in India (more than 85 church leaders), Kenya and Pakistan (two smaller groups of leaders), and Uganda (more than 100 leaders and university students, many of whom haven't professed faith in Jesus Christ). We are developing plans to travel to Uganda in July and lead training conferences there. Chuck Womble is working with us to coordinate this trip, as he is greatly excited and eager to assist in the many things God is doing through our School of Theology. 

The curriculum we have developed is second to none, and all our students speak often of how much they have grown in their understanding of God and how they are bettering themselves in their preparation to serve God. To say we are excited about the doors God is opening for us is an understatement, because God never ceases to amaze us by providing opportunities for us to join where God is already working. 


Rev. Steve Collins serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Nickelsville, VA, and president of AST. To learn more about AST, visit

Photo Credit: Clisso Photography

Last Updated:    
May 16, 2024
Faith Formation & Discipleship