April Newsletter 2021
Dear Northern Friends,
When I served on staff in a rural church in Texas, Easter Sunday involved more than a morning worship service. We planned a sunrise service at the football stadium, community breakfast in the fellowship hall, Sunday School, and the regular morning service. The day felt more like an Easter pageant than a day of worship. Then we came back to church for Sunday evening. Invariably, there were always more parts to play than there were people to volunteer. Several people had to volunteer for multiple roles to celebrate the resurrection.
For over a year, COVID-19 has felt like a long-running Easter pageant. Pastoral leaders have played multiple parts simultaneously. With relatively little preparation, pastors have become technology specialists, healthcare workers, building sanitizers, and food pantry organizers– all while fulfilling their calling to “shepherd the flock under their care.” They border on exhaustion while holding onto the hope of resurrection.
Over the past year, I’ve met with over 100 pastors, most of whom are connected to our seminary. Northern helps pastors embrace these new roles, providing a community to support them, and carving out space to reflect theologically on the new day that is dawning in church. As we look to the future, it’s essential to see these pastors and hear their stories. They are bearing witnesses to the kingdom of God that is dawning over the horizon even now. Some of their roles may seem familiar to us, but these pastors adapt to the new realities of 2021. Read Six Parts that Pastors Play during the Pandemic.
New Master of Arts in Women’s Studies Program
Northern is now accepting applications for our new Master of Arts in Women’s Studies Program. Students will explore the lives and impact of women in Scripture and the Church, dive deep into questions of theology and gender, and engage the contributions and concerns of women of color. The MA in Women’s Studies prepares students to lead well and faithfully meet the challenges of contemporary culture. Students apply biblically sound and theologically rigorous solutions to critical issues faced by women in their churches, communities, workplaces, and spaces of influence.
Faculty will include Lynn H. Cohick, Nijay Gupta, Ingrid Faro, Beth Felker Jones, and Felicia Thompson.
Following God’s Call to Salt Lake City
Within five miles of Nate Ray’s house in Salt Lake City, Utah, there are 96,000 people and only three Christian churches. Ray and his family moved there for a ministry residency while he was pursuing a degree from Northern Seminary. But once they arrived, he says, “the Lord grabbed our hearts, and it became apparent He was not going to let us leave anytime soon.” Now they are in the process of planting the area’s fourth church.
“Utah is the most religious, and least Christian, state in the country,” Ray says. It is a national leader in rates of depression, plastic surgery, porn consumption, and teen suicide. “Utah is filled with wonderfully nice people, but behind the smiles of a lot of wonderful people is a lot of hurt and pain. The cross of Jesus frees us to be radically honest about the hard realities of life. It is living water for parched souls.”
First Baptist Church at Savoy, IL
Blessing Others Despite Struggling with ALS
Cochlan soon realized that he was looking for something similar to a corporate chaplain: a person or organization whose role would be providing Christ-centered love and support to a specific group. And, while he knew the idea was a good one, he didn’t know how to make it a reality. During a round of golf—which he thanks God he can still play “even though it’s ugly, and I can only hit the ball about 150 yards now”—Cochlan shared his idea with Bill Shiell, the president of Northern Seminary.
“You know what?” Shiell said. “I have someone who may be able to help you.”
UPCOMING SUMMER 2021 Micro courses
From Seminary Now Subscriber to Northern Student
Brian Cygan has long felt called to pursue academic preparation for ministry. But first he was led to the marketplace. With his wife, Gerianne, in 2000 Cygan cofounded what will soon be the largest personal training franchise in the U.S., with more than 100 locations around the country plus 35 locations in Japan.
Years ago Cygan enrolled in an online seminary program. However, he says, “when the Lord led us to adopt two boys just one month apart in age, it was all hands on deck at home and work. I had to put off my pursuit of a theological education.”
For news media seeking comments from President Shiell or other seminary faculty or staff, please contact our communications team.
Phone: (630) 620-2188