Calvary Bible Institute Graduation 2020

Calvary Bible Institute Graduation 2020
Calvary Bible Institute Graduation 2020

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Committing the Gospel to Faithful Men & Women: Calvary Bible Institute Graduates 30 Students

Story by Tim Hoelle
Photos by Hayley Everhart

Despite significant disruptions caused by governmental COVID-19 lockdowns, the third class of Calvary Bible Institute (CBI) graduated on June 26, 2020—22 men and 8 women completed the intensive 10-month program at Yucca Valley, CA. "Our students at Calvary Bible Institute are busy from 8:00 in the morning until 8:30 at night, five days a week," said Jerel Hagerman, president of CBI and senior pastor of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel, CA. "It's like two years condensed into one."

The Welcome page on the CBI website reads in part, "Students at Calvary Bible Institute are given the opportunity to listen, study and apply the Word of God to their lives." To facilitate that, experienced pastors from various Calvary Chapel churches commit their time to teaching and mentoring CBI students. David Enos, CBI’s director, shared, "We say it's a group of pastors doing everything they can to raise up another group of pastors for the next generation." In 2020, everything they can meant adapting to the challenges of COVID-19, and that reality hit about halfway through this year’s program.

Jerel Hagerman gives certificates to man and woman

Husband and wife Arkady and Kayla Furman (left) receive their certificates from Jerel Hagerman, senior pastor of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel and president of Calvary Bible Institute (CBI). The graduation was held in late June, 2020, because of COVID-19 challenges.

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

"We had to close March 16th and were out for two months and two days, but the students were required to finish listening to 400 hours of Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith's entire Through the Bible sermon series," Jerel related. "When classes started again in May, it was via Zoom, and then we started back in June in person. That pushed our graduation back about four weeks.” During that disruption, God was still moving and affirming the ministry in a variety of ways, and that blessing is not lost on those who are busy doing the work. Nor is it out of the ordinary.

Jerel Hagerman speaks to crowd

Pastor Josh Blevins of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills (left), Pastor Jerel Hagerman, and graduate Jordan Henry. A photo of some of the 2020 graduating class is projected on the screen.

“CBI is a move of God's Spirit,” emphasized David. “The building we’re in is a former rest home, so rooms where students reside already had plumbing and a configuration that works as student housing. The building contained a commercial kitchen and had space available that could be converted to classrooms. Of course, modifications had to be made, but the best part is that the building was given to CBI along with money to refurbish it.” Along with student housing for individual students, the Lord has also provided a small number of duplexes that offer additional flexibility. “We have housing available for four married couples and another four for families that was donated to us,” offered Jerel.

Each provision of resources continues to be a confirmation to both Jerel and David that the Lord is in this work; His hand has been clearly visible in the lives of this graduating class. A pastor and his wife from Arizona came to CBI and shared with the students. “During their time here, they [met] a student and his new wife who were attending CBI,” Jerel explained. “Eventually the students agreed to move to Arizona to minister in the church. To make room for them, the Arizona pastor and his wife sold their house and bought a house with a casita (a small, attached house). In it they'll house the young couple while they mentor them.”

CBI graduate Reeve Lively speaks at the ceremony

CBI graduate Reeve Lively speaks at the ceremony. He is now serving as a youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz, CA.

“Another wonderful and encouraging story concerns one of our students we’ll call Arkady,” commented Jerel. “Arkady and his brother were in a terrible orphanage in Russia, and God’s hand moved a family in Missouri to open up their home and adopt these two boys. Fast forward many years later and now Arkady and his wife have graduated from CBI and are interning in central California with a pastor who is raising them up in ministry!”

There was also bittersweet news from this year's class. Retired pastor Mark Bove from Calvary Chapel Anaheim, CA, taught the Book of Revelation and spoke at the graduating ceremony for this class. One of Mark's grandsons, JT, graduated with this class. Mark passed away just weeks after the graduation. “But he was a great encouragement to the students, and he leaves a rich legacy here on earth—three sons and two grandsons are pastors,” David reflected.

In the CBI tradition, as part of the ceremony, all the teachers and students had a chance to speak about where they were headed after graduation or how their time together had inspired them. In most college or university settings this wouldn’t be possible, but because each class is small, this brief but meaningful time of sharing happens each year. “This program is based on discipleship,” remarked Jerel, “so it’s our intent to keep the graduating class small—I’d say not more than 50 students. CBI will take some interns for a time while students continue to seek God's will in their next service.”

Pastor BJ Heuther of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel speaks at the ceremony

Pastor BJ Heuther of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel speaks to the graduates, staff, and visitors at the graduation ceremony.

In addition, CBI students led worship and Pastor Don McClure of Calvary Way Ministries brought a brief message. When the evening concluded, the third graduating class of CBI stepped out of the classroom and into the next phase of their ministry lives. And they would have help finding their way.

“Behold, I [Jesus] say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” John 4:35b

"We work very hard in placing all of the students," declared Jerel. "Because of COVID, for the first time we arranged for video interviews with pastors who were looking for staff in their ministries." God was again at work and many placements were made. One joined the U.S. Army and will be a chaplain's assistant, and another will be joining a church as an assistant pastor. Other graduating students will be involved with youth and children’s ministry, worship, technology, and facilities.

While a number of graduates will remain in California, this class will also minister in Virginia, Kansas, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington, and Utah. Eleven students returned to intern or minister in their home church. Four are youth pastors and another is in the process of securing a position. Another four graduates are destined for work in children's ministry, either running a program or assisting. Several others are serving as interns at other churches until the COVID threat is over; then they will serve on CBI’s international campuses, including four who will be heading to the campus in Israel.

Pastor Don McClure of Calvary Way Ministries speaks to the graduates

Pastor Don McClure of Calvary Way Ministries delivered a brief message to the graduates, encouraging them before they stepped out into their new ministries.

“That’s another exciting part about the ministry,” David exclaimed. “In addition to Israel, we also have campuses in the countries of Georgia, Peru, Guatemala, and the Philippines. Plans are in the works to add another campus in Uganda next year. And the great thing about our overseas ministries is the involvement of nationals. CBI Israel is an opportunity to learn for three months on location. Most of the students in our Peru campus are from Venezuela or Peru.”

Pastor Steve Greenburg of the Blue Letter Bible ministry shares with the graduates

Pastor Steve Greenburg of the Blue Letter Bible ministry shares with the graduates.


Graduate Louis Castillo speaks at the ceremony

Graduate Louis Castillo recalls his experiences at CBI and reveals his plans for future ministry.


Noah Engle speaks at the ceremony

Noah Engle was one of 30 graduates from the third class of CBI.


Pastor Jerel Hagerman (right) hugs graduate Carlos Caceres

Pastor Jerel Hagerman (right) hugs graduate Carlos Caceres.


Pastor Jerel Hagerman (right) presents a certificate to graduate Max Zamora

Pastor Jerel Hagerman (right) presents a certificate to graduate Max Zamora.


Annikka Molina sings at the CBI graduation in June 2020

Annikka Molina sings at the CBI graduation in June 2020.


Jordan Henry speaks at the ceremony

Jordan Henry reports on her post-graduation plans.


Worship team singing at the ceremony

Front row, left to right: Annikka Molina, former graduate Michael Gross, and graduate Jordan Henry lead worship at the graduation. The other graduates stand in the back row.


All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.