Karen Walker Freeburg

Associate Professor of Ministry

Born in Evanston, IL, Dr. Karen Walker Freeburg was raised in an American Baptist family attending North Shore Baptist Church, a multi-cultural congregation in Chicago. The pastor who baptized her, Dr. William Meyers, would later become President of Northern Seminary. By the age of sixteen, Karen knew she had received a call from God to serve him in ministry. After graduating from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, she served as an admissions officer for several universities and eventually became President of the Association of Chicago Area Colleges and Universities.

Like many seminary students, it took her approximately ten years to respond to God’s call. During a church revival meeting in 1985, a member of the Northern Seminary community preached about God’s calling to vocational ministry. That ‘jogged’ her memory and commitment to obedience, and within weeks she was enrolled in graduate studies at Northern.

After receiving her Master of Divinity degree, Dr. Karen Walker Freeburg was brought on staff in 1995 to lead the Admissions Office and eventually became Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. During her tenure in Admissions, Northern grew significantly by recruiting a student population which better reflected the growing diversity of the evangelical community in metropolitan Chicago.

In 1996, Marley Community Church in Mokena, IL ordained Dr. Walker Freeburg to Christian ministry. It was with much prayer that she decided to pursue post graduate studies and serve God by developing a spiritual formation model for greater professional and spiritual growth among seminary students. Upon receipt of her Doctor of Ministry in 2002, the seminary invited Dr. Walker Freeburg to join the faculty as Assistant Professor of Ministry and Spirituality and to become the Director of Supervised Ministry.

She entered the role of Academic Dean in 2009 and later served as Interim President in 2015 and 2016 and as Vice President of Academic Affairs until June 2017, when she announced her departure from the Seminary.

Under her guidance, Northern became a leader in spiritual formation for seminary students, effectively integrating formation and academics. A world class faculty has been assembled, and a team of diverse pastors has been recruited and trained to serve as Formation for Christian Ministry professors. Partnerships have been developed which both deepen and broaden Northern’s ability to prepare a diversity of students who are personally whole, spiritually mature, biblically grounded, theologically able, and culturally competent.

She is married to her best friend, Keith Freeburg, and they have been blessed with three wonderful children and two grandchildren.


D. Min. Northern Baptist Seminary

M. Div. Northern Baptist Seminary

B. A. University of Puget Sound

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Called to Seminary? Stepping Through The Open Door

How on earth do you know (you know), deep down, with certainty KNOW that God is calling you to seminary to study? For 25 years I have been privileged to walk beside godly men and women who are struggling with that question. They love the church and already spend countless…

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By: Karen Walker Freeburg