Southwest Illinois School of Theology (SWIST) is a program of the ADVANCE Ministry Preparation (AMP) program offered by local associations and Gateway Seminary (GS) of the SBC in Ontario, CA.  The AMP program provides leadership development via quality, Bible-based education without having to leave one’s ministry setting.  The goal is to prepare church leaders, workers and planters to work in the Lord’s vineyard.   

  • Classes can be adapted to your context and setting.
  • Students are eligible if they have completed high school or a GED (some exceptions may apply).
  • Diplomas are offered by Gateway Seminary so that students can graduate on campus.

The SWIST AMP program is offered locally through Gateway Baptist Association and Metro-East Baptist Association of Illinois.  SWIST is for ALL CHURCH MEMBERS, not just pastors.  (You must be at least 21 years of age and have been a Christian for at least one year to enroll.) 

TO ENROLL:  New students may go online to complete their admission application at: application for ADVANCE CLD.  You may also call the MEBA office at 618-624-4444 and make an appointment for enrollment.   After enrolling you will need to complete the Church Endorsement Form with a $35 non-refundable application fee, plus $135 per course ($170 total for new students).  Checks are to be made payable to MEBA. Cost for returning students is $135.



Diploma in Christian Ministries (DCM): Total of 24 hours

Diploma in Theology (DTH): Total of 28 hours (in addition to the DCM = 52 hours)

Diploma in Church Planting (DCP): Total of 28 hours (in addition to the DCM = 52 hours)


Gateway Seminary of the SBC Faculty has approved four new AMP certificates for our local AMP center.  The certificate requires four 3-hour classes for a total of 12 hours to earn the certificate.  Certificates are designed to help your church leaders develop ministry skills. They may use the classes toward a diploma as well.

The AMP certificates include:

  1. Bible Teaching Certificate – AMP (Designed for someone teaching Sunday School, Bible studies small groups, or discipleship.)  
  2. Mission Studies Certificate – AMP (Designed to fulfill the minimum theological work required of a mission candidate spouse for IMB appointment.) 
  3. Pastoral Ministry Certificate – AMP (Designed to give students basic pastoral skills to serve in a shepherding role such as associate pastor, deacon, elder.) 
  4. Small Church Leadership Certificate – AMP (Designed to provide knowledge and development of leadership skills for the small church. ) 

For more information contact:

Metro East Baptist Association (SWIST Registrar) 618-624-4444 or

Director – Pastor Sherman Smith  phone: 618-345-0770  Email: brsherm3@gmail.com or

Go to https://www.gs.edu/academics/degrees/advance-cld/

Course Fee:  New students:  $170 (Includes $35.00 application fee); Returning students:  $135

0e5081798_1462986390_ggs-logo-2Sponsored by Gateway Seminary of the SBC