Seeking Higher Education

Winifred family graduate Bible school together
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Counterclockwise from left: Paul Dodson, wife Chris Dodson, her daughter Kalla Schumacher, and Venda Kaiser celebrate their graduation from Mid-State Bible Institute Sunday afternoon. Paul said he appreciated the unique opportunity to graduate as a family. 

Photo courtesy of Misty Aldrich



As Paul Dodson received his Master of Theology from Mid-State Bible Institute last weekend, his wife, Chris, and stepdaughter, Kalla Schumacher, were seated in the front row, cheering him on. 

After shaking hands and receiving his diploma from Bible Institute Director Carl Whorley, Paul sat next to them, but the women didn’t stay seated for long. It was their turn to receive diplomas.

Three of the four Mid-State Bible Institute graduates live together in Winifred, a tight-knit family that watches movies together, hikes together and – for the past three years – goes to Bible school together.

Before moving to Winifred, Paul was a traveling evangelist. Wanting to take a journey of faith with Chris and Kalla, the three started going to classes. Paul had known of the institute since its inception in 2012 – when it met at Lighthouse Baptist – but they weren’t able to commit at the time.

Once they got settled in Winifred, the family all started going together in hopes to grow in their faith together and further understand the Bible, taking evening courses so Paul could work on the Butcher ranch during the day.

Each family member had their own reason for taking the class.

Paul was taking the classes to expand his knowledge, gain the skills to teach courses and enhance his abilities as pastor of Mid-State Bible Fellowship, an alliance created in January that currently meets at Whorley’s house, 816 Virginia Street, which is also where Mid-State Bible Institute meets.

“Our goal is to get a building down on Main Street that will host the institute and our ministry,” Paul said.

Preaching is something Paul has felt called to do for many years. 

“I have a deep desire to serve the Lord and see people saved,” he said. “Through the years I’ve learned a lot about the Bible, about the truth, about what the scripture says, and I hope to use this knowledge to help the new generation coming up.”

Chris doesn’t have an interest in teaching at this time, but she wanted to take the courses and earn a degree to help her “spread the Word” and “defend the Word.”

“I joined the college because of my experience with various organized religion approaches and indoctrination of the Word,” Chris said. “I wanted to clearly understand what the Bible was saying without that slant.”

Kalla, a junior at Winifred school, started taking the course out of genuine interest. She wanted to learn more.

“Mid-State Bible Institute was more beneficial than church or Sunday School,” she said. “I learned how to approach and help others who aren’t aware of the Bible.”

All graduating together was a special moment for the family.

“It was quite a blessing and quite a unique opportunity,” Paul said.

Not only did three members of the family graduate, but Chris’s youngest daughter, Olivia, handed out the diplomas.


A memorable commencement

Sunday was a big day for the nondenominational Mid-State Bible Institute, as they also celebrated the graduation of their first two graduate students: Paul and Venda Kaiser, a Grass Range woman who has been involved with the institute from the very beginning.

While Paul will use his Masters of Theology to teach courses on “You and Your Bible” and “Psalms,” Kaiser plans on furthering her education when school resumes Aug. 28.

“Three years from now, Venda hopes to receive her doctorate,” Whorley said, which was followed by applause from the friends, family and fellow students in attendance at the Megahertz building on Main Street.

Seeing students graduate with a Masters degree for the first time in school history was an emotional experience for Whorley.

“I told myself I wouldn’t do this,” he said as his eyes watered. “I told myself I wouldn’t cry.”

During the commencement, Whorley said it was hard for him to believe the Bible Institute was old enough to see individuals receive a Masters. 

“We’re starting our seventh year in August,” Whorley said. “That’s unbelievable.”

It doesn’t seem that long ago when Whorley started the program through the Evangelical Training Association.

“It just started as a way to answer some questions,” Whorley said.

Now there is a place where those questions can be answered, Whorley said, and he hopes to see even more people come forward with questions. 

Chris agrees.

“I would encourage anyone who wants a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere to give Mid-State Bible Institute a try,” she said. “Enrollment is open.”

For more information on Mid-State Bible Institute, go to



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