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Instead of reading, writing and arithmetic, students at Calvary Christian College study a different trio or rather, a trinity.

Calvary Christian College, located at Calvary Gospel Church in Waldorf, has been in operation since 1993, though when it started it was a branch of Logos Christian College and Graduate School in Jacksonville, Fla.

Timothy Wood, president of the nondenominational Waldorf school, said after a few years, the college became large enough that it decided to go it alone in 2001. Calvary is recognized by the state of Maryland as a college that can offer theological degrees, Wood said, but it is not government accredited.

The school is certified by the Council of Private Colleges of America, he said.

One main attraction of the school for local students, Wood said, is the location.

He said instead of a person having to uproot and move to another community to pursue theology, there is a college here in Waldorf.

There are about 80 seats filled each semester, Wood said, and about 20 graduates a year on average.

Wood is the senior pastor for the nondenominational Calvary Gospel Church in Waldorf. He said while many might expect church members would be the majority of the college’s enrollment, Wood said 90 percent of the school population is from outside his church community.

Students at the college vary in age but many are in their 40s or 50s. Some students are even in their 70s, he said.

Wood said some look to a theology degree to start their own church or to become stronger leaders in their congregations.

Some students already are leaders in their churches and seek additional training. Others enroll for a deeper understanding and education on the Bible.

Wood said the school teaches doctrine but “from a standpoint of not being so dogmatic,” he said,

The theme is “we educate not indoctrinate.”

Mark Roberson, dean of students and a Calvary graduate, aid it is difficult to teach the Bible without doctrine, but the classes are more about education.

Roberson is the associate pastor at Calvary Gospel. He is the founder and former pastor of Open Gate Church in Waldorf.

Wood said the school exposes student to various doctrines and that is “attractive to our students.”

Students at the school are not all of the same denomination either.

Wood said the school is diverse in religion, gender and ethnicity.

Another attraction of the school both Wood and Roberson touched on is affordability and flexibility. For example, students looking for an undergraduate degree at the school can expect to pay $50 per credit hour and $65 per credit is the tuition for graduate students and those seeking a doctorate, according to information on the school’s website.

Classes are held once a week, typically on a Tuesday or Thursday evening depending on the course. They run for 10 weeks, and Wood said there is a three-week period for catching up on reading and writing assignments. There also are Saturday seminars available.

The school has grown so much over the years that Wood opted to take the concept to other states for churches to open up similar colleges.

“We’re taking it all over America,” he said.

gphillips@somdnews.com