Northern Seminary and Baptist General Association of Virginia Announce Partnership to Train Church Leaders

As the BGAV’s seminary partner for distance education, Northern will deliver accessible theological education to students in Virginia via interactive live-streaming classes and local intensive gatherings. Students can complete degrees while still serving their local context or deployed overseas.

Northern’s unique interactive live-streaming technology (Northern Live) allows students to engage in a vibrant classroom experience and interact with Northern’s premier faculty and classroom peers in real time, no matter where they live. Students will be able to take a one-week summer intensive class each year in Virginia, as well as gather for events each Fall and Spring.

With shared values and mission, Northern Seminary and the BGAV seek to develop women and men who are equipped with the skills necessary to become leaders within the Church.

John V. Upton, Jr., Executive Director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia stated, “Our new partnership with Northern Seminary will offer excellent new opportunities for current and future ministers across the Commonwealth as they seek to complete their seminary education. The ability to pursue an MDiv while continuing to serve a local congregation means that our pastors and other staff ministers can get the education they want and need while living and serving in their communities.”

William Shiell, President of Northern Seminary, stated, “We are thrilled to partner with the BGAV to train church leaders in context. Our biblical, personal, and missional curriculum is designed for the called Christian to grow in their faith and engage their communities. Our goal is to transform a generation of women and men who want to share the gospel as educated servant leaders of Jesus Christ and his church.”

Northern Seminary offers an educational context that is international, interracial, and intercultural for the preparation of men and women who are called by God. Northern’s mission is to educate leaders for the churches who will be personally whole and spiritually mature, biblically grounded and theologically competent, pastoral, evangelistic, and prophetic. Northern’s faculty train students to exegete their local context and lead churches in the midst of a changing world.

Fred Liggin, Pastor at Williamsburg Christian Church, described his education at Northern this way: “My experience at Northern has radically shaped my understanding in mission. The diverse roster of professors who are not only academics, but also practitioners, combined with a mix of varying theological traditions has opened me up to many perspectives and conversations I do not believe I would get anywhere else. There is no other institution I could recommend more highly for a formative missional theological education than Northern Seminary.”

Virginia-based Northern Seminary student Brendan Jamieson, Pastor of Worship and Small Communities at All Souls Charlottesville, says about his experience at Northern, “Northern Seminary has truly enriched me in my work as a pastor. Through my studies, I am arriving at a greater clarity as to my pastoral task, and to the shape of faithfulness. I’m so grateful to Northern for this opportunity.”

The BGAV’s Coach Network Director, Ken Kessler, will support and mentor students in Virginia: “I’m encouraged by this new partnership for many reasons, but I’ve been most impressed with Northern’s creative approach to the seminary classroom environment through their use of technology. And with Northern’s long-time commitment to diversity—promoting graduate-level theological education to people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders—this partnership will equip our BGAV ministers for the Church of both today and tomorrow.”

More information can be found at

Northern is accepting applications for students to start as early as January 2020. Students from BGAV churches may apply for scholarships up to $5,000 annually from the BGAV and up to $2,000 annually from Northern Seminary.

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