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Certificate of Progress Program (COPP)

Dr. Marshall A. Talley is credited with organizing The Certificate of Progress Program (COPP) at the Sunday School Publishing Board in October of 1937. Between 1939 and 1953, local churches had begun to organize Christian education programs; as a result, the COP Program added advanced studies to the curriculum.

In 1978, Dr. Amos Jones Jr. introduced the concept of certified leadership schools as a part of the Sunday School Publishing Board and the National Baptist Convention's work in training church leaders. The concept brought to the forefront of the Sunday School Publishing Board and the National Convention's educational work the certification of instructors who would teach and deans who would administer the local leadership schools. The idea of increasing and nurturing church leadership meant new standards, the expansion of the curriculum and changes in the entire format of the certification process. With these ideas in mind, Dr. Jones re-created the four-phase Certificate of Progress Program. He challenged the Christian educators of the National Baptist Convention by requiring courses that span the range of theology, Bible, and practical ministry. Dr. Jones stressed more writing assignments and course evaluation standards that would ensure competence and successful completion of each class.

COPP has continued to meet the challenges of the National Baptist Christian Educator. During the his tenure (1996-2007), the late Dr. E. L. Thomas established a Pastor's Alternative for Teacher Certification PATC, and a Council of Christian Education Committee to assist in guiding the Christian Education work of the Sunday School Publishing Board and the National Baptist Convention. Dr. Thomas understood the pastor as the leader of the Christian Education in the local church.

In 2007, Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr. was appointed Executive Director of the Sunday School Publishing Board. Dr. Smith understands Christian education to be a journey of the heart and the head. He has introduced a discipleship series entitled Spiritual Elements Essential for Discipleship, S.E.E.D. The series was developed with the understanding that we all are Christian Educators; and Christian education is a lifelong process that engages the human spirit and mind. Under Dr. Smith's leadership the COPP curriculum has undergone changes and additions, and the Christian Leadership School Manual has been revised so that each will meet the needs of National Baptist Churches.

Objectives
The objectives of the Certificate of Progress Program are as follows:

  • To increase biblical knowledge;
  • To create an understanding of the Baptist church;
  • To provide an educational structure that will develop candidates who are qualified for teaching and leadership positions;
  • To provide incentives for the candidate to complete the program; and,
  • To produce trained church leaders.

While the certificate program seeks to train church leaders for teaching; lay persons who wish to increase their understanding of the biblical text and become more effective disciples of Jesus are encouraged to enroll in the COP Program.

Policies and Procedures
Listed below are specific procedures for enrollment in COPP:

  • Participants are to complete and submit an admission application.
  • Participants are to be assigned to a Dean of Record who will guide the participant throughout the process.
  • Participants are to submit all applications, assignments, and forms for COPP to the Dean of Record.
  • Participants are to purchase the Student Handbook. The handbook can purchased from the Sunday School Publishing Board or a local Christian bookstore that carries SSPB products.
  • Participants are to subscribe to the Christian Education Informer, the official Christian education journal DCEAC and the SSPB.
  • Participants who have received credits from colleges, universities, or seminaries, can submitted a transcript to their Dean of Record for evaluation and possible substitution for required courses in the certificate program.
  • Participants should make sure all applications and forms have the required signatures from the candidate, pastor, and Dean of Record.

The COPP Course Offerings per Phase
The course offering for COPP are divided into four phases. COPP participants are encouraged to take the courses in the order listed as each phase builds on the previous phase. Classes may be taken in any order within a phase, but each phase needs to be completed within a five-year period.

Phase I
1004 Effective Bible Reading
1007 Introduction to the Old Testament
1072 Introduction to the New Testament
2007 Christian Stewardship
3008 Theology and History of Christianity
6021 Spiritual Formation

NOTE: COPP students who wish to become a certified instructor, must complete courses 2023—Creative Ways of Teaching and 9008--Public Speaking. Refer to the Christian Leadership School Manual for additional instructions for instructor certification.

Phase II
1075 The Synoptic Gospels
2011 Baptist Doctrine
4012 The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
7024 Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
9004 Writing Techniques I

Writing Assignment: COPP students will complete a final writing assignment on the topic "Salvation Through Jesus Christ." This assignment should be at least two pages in length, a 12 font size and doubled spaced.

Phase III
1079 Survey of John
1089 Survey of Romans
3007 History of Baptists
7005 Christian Evangelism
9005 Writing Techniques II

Writing Assignment: COPP students will complete a final writing assignment on the topic "Contemporary Issues Affecting the Church." This assignment should be at least three to five pages, a 12 font size and doubled-spaced. Provide five to seven references.

Phase IV
1112 Survey of Revelations
2015 Foundations of Christian Ethics
6013 Organizing the Church for Christian Education
9024 The Computer in the Life of the Church
8066 Christianity and Contemporary Issues

Writing Assignment: COPP students will complete a final writing assignment on the topic "The Role of the Christian Educator in the Local Church." This assignment should be at least three to five pages, a 12 font size and doubled-spaced. Provide five to eight references.