In the Fall of 2011, Heritage Christian University launched the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree with seven students pursuing the degree. As the degree was launched, an important component of the program was focused upon training highly skilled, globally focused ministers who could work with small congregations which had access to limited physical, spiritual, and/or human resources. As this degree was launched, F. Miles Ezell Jr., representing the Ezell Foundation, showed a special interest in this program due to its particular focus. His interest led to the establishment of an institute devoted to developing resources for such congregations. The institute works in coordination with HCU, reinforcing the goals of HCU and particularly strengthening the MDiv program. The institute was publically announced on October 16, 2012 preceding a public lecture on HCU’s campus. During the same semester, Will T. Tidwell, minister of the Una Church of Christ (Nashville, TN), began the program as our first student pursuing the MDiv and working toward completion of a certificate program to research and assist limited resource/small churches.

The Ezell Institute for Biblical Research promotes scholarship on the biblical texts and their reception. It accomplishes its mission by [1] awarding scholarships to MDiv students enrolled in our new Non-Degree Certificate Program in Resource Development Models for Small Churches, [2] publishing materials within churches of Christ to assist biblical and ministry literacy, [3] purchasing quality research materials to be housed at the Overton Memorial Library, [4] underwriting conferences, guest lectureships, and visiting professiorships, [5] providing research funding for the faculty associated with the Institute, and [6] awarding travel stipends to select graduate students.