Local Christians who feel called into vocational ministry won’t have to travel far to receive that instruction.

Twelve churches across Lee County have partnered with Christ Our Redeemer Seminary, the area’s only accredited seminary offering a “holistic approach” to earning a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree.

As Christ Our Redeemer Seminary comes to the end of its second year in operation, President and Academic Dean Hoffman Rhyne said he is excited to see what the future holds.

“This idea had been developing in my heart for several years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that it began to take shape,” he recalled. “I started talking with other pastors and leaders that fall about it, and they resonated with the vision.”

The following February, Rhyne organized a meeting to gauge local interest, and to his surprise, he said,  40 pastors and other Christian leaders from across the county showed up.

“This model of seminary can only exist by collaboration, and I needed to know if there was enough buy-in to bring the idea to fruition,” he said. “From that point forward, we formed a launch team and moved quickly to be able to launch with our first cohort the following August. God blessed us at each step of the way.”

Seminary students participate in a discussion. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The seminary currently consists of two cohorts and will welcome its third this summer. Only eight to 14 students are accepted into a cohort following a formal application process. According to Rhyne, the students in each cohort “commit to be a learning community together” throughout the entire three-year degree program.

The teaching faculty is made up of local pastors, church planters, ministry leaders and missionaries — all from Auburn and Opelika institutions.

“It has been a joy to see them pouring their lives into our students,” Rhyne said. “We truly have some stellar leaders in our community who could have chosen the path of professional scholarship but instead chose the path of pastoral and ministry leadership. Their strength lies in being able to help students engage with the best scholarship while speaking from a depth of experience.”

According to the seminary’s website, the practicum and mentoring program are designed so that students can experience them in their local churches. Rhyne said the students have 15 mentors to whom they can turn when it comes to personal matters — something he said is also a crucial part of the journey. The students can meet with a mentor one-on-one to work on building character and overcoming trials.

“Character development is critical but often overlooked or avoided due to fear, shame, lack of self-awareness or a host of other issues,” he noted. “Because the gospel is true, we can face the truth about ourselves even when that truth is unpleasant. Our mentors help students to get comfortable with this so that the grace of God can change us profoundly over time. We have a lot of room for improvement, but we celebrate how far we’ve come by the grace of God.”

In addition to the third cohort, Rhyne said Christ Our Redeemer Seminary will soon implement a new certificate program for a broader range of people. Students will be able to complete this program in two semesters consisting of four biblical courses and one course on the spiritual disciplines. The program will also be able to act as an introduction into theological education and ministry preparation, Rhyne added.

Rhyne said promotion is also a priority for the seminary. With time, his hope is that the ministry will grow to include students from farther out, such as Columbus, Georgia, and Montgomery.

At the end of the day, Rhyne said love and outreach are at the heart of ministry. The main goal is to “embody and proclaim” the story of Jesus Christ and reach out to others in love.

“Our vision for the seminary is that the love of Jesus Christ will so change our students that they dedicate their whole lives to spreading the love and news of Jesus to the ends of the earth,” he added. “… We see this not so much as a new thing but as one way in which the church is carrying forward this legacy in our generation. We are humbled to be part of his work in our community and the ripple effects it could have throughout the world.”

For more information about the seminary, or to apply or donate, visit