President’s Pen (Fall 2018)

I recently had the opportunity to offer some help to another seminary that comes from the mainline wing of the Christian movement. I will admit that I asked myself some hard questions as to how this fit within our mission and what some of my predecessors would have said about my being there. When the weekend was over, the dean of this school came to me and said, “Thank you for reminding us of things that we had forgotten in our institutional memory: Scripture, church, and gospel.”

While I took this as an amazing compliment and a testament to the value of my contribution, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What else is there?” As I think back across the 85-year history of Northwest, I observe that these three things have always defined the direction of our ministry. I am very encouraged to see that they still are. Our whole team remains rock solid in our affirmation of the Bible, the church, and the Christian gospel. May it ever be so.

Of course, we are also becoming known for our particular competency-based focus in theological education. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will have read about our wildly successful conference. To see a downtown ballroom full of educators there to hear us tell the story about how a seminary can reshape itself to serve its churches, was deeply gratifying. Not only are we making an impact on our own churches, but we are seeing this vision spread.

For example, we are now on the cusp of launching the Immerse program in Colombia. This culminates more than 15 years of work. We believe that what is emerging is going to spread across Latin America for the sake of the church and for the good of the gospel.

This spreading of influence is truly encouraging. We are now in the final stages of forming a partnership, to be known as Symporus. This will be an arms-length company held in partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary and the Pathwright firm out of South Carolina. Together, we are aligning to offer technology and services in support of competency-based theological education across North America and the world. Symporus is going to allow us to serve these opportunities, without distracting us from our core mission here at home.

We are also working on developing a new product line which we intend to call Groundwork. This will provide competency-based theological education to a wider array of people and churches, meeting needs at a more accessible level. Alongside Immerse, Groundwork is going to help us serve lay people, young adults, and people whose calling is something other than vocational pastoral ministry.

In all of this, we are grateful for your support. We are thankful for you and your prayers as well as your financial support. I have little trouble asking you to bless our students with your giving because I have seen the result. There is nothing like seeing people’s gifts and callings blossom through deep, mentored training. All donation income goes directly to students in the form of aid.

To God be the glory.