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Alumni Perspective: Bill Kirsch

Name: Bill Kirsch

Graduation Year (CBC): 1978

Major: Church Music

Graduation Year (AGTS): 1987 & 2004

Major: MA Biblical Literature, DMin

Current Position: Provost, Pan-Africa Theological Seminary

City and State: Lomé, Togo & Nairobi, Kenya

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

After graduating from CBC, I served as associate pastor at Three Cities Assembly, Burlingame, CA as youth and music pastor from 1980 to 1984. I married Judy Conklin in 1982 and we moved to Botswana, Africa in 1984 serving a one-year special assignment, teaching in the Assembly Bible College. We moved to Springfield, where I pursued my MA in Biblical Literature, graduating in 1987. In 1988, we applied for re-appointment as AGWM missionaries and moved to Northern California where we itinerated to return to Africa. The end of 1989, we moved to Cape Town, South Africa, where I served as the academic dean of Cape Theological Seminary through 1998.

We returned to Springfield, for an extended furlough in 1998 and began studying in 1999 at AGTS, earning a DMin in 2004. In 2000, I began serving as the administrator of Africa Theological Training Service. In 2005, the name was changed to Africa’s Hope. I became director of Africa’s hope in January of 2007 serving through 2013. In 2013, I became the Provost of the Pan-Africa Theological Seminary and I currently serve in that role.

What is your favorite memory from CBC?

One particular memory does not stand out, but the camaraderie and friendships formed with fellow students is something that lasts a lifetime.

What is your favorite memory from AGTS?

Again, no single memory surfaces, but I do remember the interaction with the faculty, on a more personal level, was a positive experience. There was a collegial atmosphere in which faculty were approachable and would interact with students in a supportive and encouraging way.

 How did CBC help you identify/develop your calling?

Professors who had served for years in pastoral ministry were valuable examples and could speak out of their experience to those who had been called to serve. The chapel services and Friday evening missions emphasis services were valuable, shaping experiences.

How did AGTS help you identify/develop your calling?

Faculty always encouraged and inspired me to follow the call of God. They believed in me when I sometimes did not believe in myself. They were not just instructors but they acted as mentors as well.

How did your experience at CBC prepare you for life after graduation?

CBC gave me the tools I needed, and an underlying foundation of knowledge to pursue the call of God. Classroom interaction with experienced professors, as well as opportunities for spiritual formation through the various programs the school offered, were life shaping.

How did your experience at AGTS prepare you for life after graduation?

AGTS provided effective training that provided the qualification I needed to follow God’s call into teaching. The balanced academic program coupled with professors who cared about and encouraged their students gave me a well-rounded program of training that equipped me to serve the church in Africa through training.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

There is a lot more to an academic program than academics. The knowledge you receive is critically important. However, just as important, or even more important are the internal shaping experiences that help you to navigate the terrain of life. You can glide along the surface of your training, making the grades, and passing the classes to receive your academic qualification. However, dig deeper into life changing relationships with your professors, administrators and fellow students. Seek out opportunities to build deep bonds of friendship where iron sharpens iron, and character is built. Every employer demands competence, but if you do not have character, all the competence in the world will not carry you through. Build your character through seeking out opportunities to grow and develop yourself spiritually and emotionally as you develop your competence through academics.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduate?

I want to hire a person who is competent; that has a depth of knowledge in their field. But, I would also look for depth of character; someone who has developed inwardly as well as academically. I would look for a person who has a teachable spirit, someone who has developed themselves mentally, but still understands the need to continually cultivate their skills, and is willing to be directed. I would look for a person who has a servant’s heart. This is a person who desires to serve first and foremost. They are not in it just to see how far up the ladder they can climb, but rather their primary desire is to dig deep in serving others. Finally, I would look for a person with a burning passion to draw closer to Jesus.