Pastoral Leaders Graduate to Serve in Diverse Contexts


On Saturday, June 8, Northern Seminary graduated 26 pastoral leaders, most of whom are already serving in rural, urban, and suburban congregations. The Seminary’s 104th commencement ceremony marked the second cohort graduating from the Master of Arts in Worship track and the first graduates from the Baugh scholars for women in ministry. Created in 2016, the Baugh program provides scholarships for women and persons of color who do not have equitable scholarship assistance from their home churches. Because of programs like the Baugh scholars, these women are able to graduate with significantly less debt than before. Rebecca Richmond received the first graduate certificate in Urban Leadership from Northern Seminary.

The 104th commencement also marks the graduation of another cohort from the Doctor of Ministry in Contextual Theology, led by Dr. David Fitch. This program continues to press in on the questions of gospel and culture for a church engaged in mission for the 21st century.

“All of our graduates this year did the work of asking the hard questions, then patiently listening and discerning God at work amidst their churches and the nooks and crannies of their neighborhoods. They tackled the questions of racism, wealth distribution, discipleship, mission creep, and the role of the Bible in mission. I could not be more proud of this group. May their ministries flourish, may the strongholds of injustice be brought down, and the gospel go forth, as they go from this day more equipped to lead God’s people into mission.”

– Dr. David Fitch, Betty R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary

According to Dr. Bill Shiell, president of Northern and Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching, “The class of 2019 has demonstrated what it means to be a scholar-pastor. These graduates served in the church while attending seminary, some at great sacrifice financially and personally. They persevered through sickness, church ministry disruptions, and life changes. They demonstrated the remarkable qualities of courage and endurance that will
shape them for years to come.”

Dr. Douglas Summers, Co-Pastor of Providence Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland and Northern Class of 1996, delivered the commencement message. Dr. Summers challenged the graduates to be the kind of persons who are going into the ministry and allowing “the ministry to go into them.” As an alum, Dr. Summers reflected on his ongoing work as co-pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Using Paul’s famous concluding remarks in 2 Timothy 4, he acknowledged the challenges and pain of the pastorate. He encouraged the class of 2019 to follow Paul’s leads and to surround themselves with uplifting people, to have “good coverage” for the unexpected and expected crises, and to continue to stay faithful in their studies after seminary.

Christ Church of Oak Brook hosted the commencement ceremony.

The faculty awarded the Bryan F. Archibald preaching award to Tyler Hansen and the highest GPA awards to Lauren Settembrini and Christian Wermeskerch.

A Profile of Graduates

Among those graduating are Pastor Tyone D. Hughes, recently installed as Pastor of Third Baptist Church of Chicago. Tyone says, “The journey of my seminary career at Northern Seminary has both blessed me and broken me.  It has blessed me because of the profound imprint and formation of my ministry and life.  It has broken me from the traditional and contextual church mindset.  The glory of my experience has taught me how to think deeply, culturally, and theologically for the sake of a proper, evangelical, and relevant ministry.  Northern has also taught me how to be a student and life-long learner.  The moment we stop learning, life is all but over. In the Spring Convocation held Friday evening, June 7 in the Lisle Center, Rev. Hughes preached a message from 2 Corinthians 4 entitled, “What do We Get Out of It?” He challenged the audience to see their work like “treasures in jars of clay” and to understand that without God’s work on the treasure, pastors are just clay jars.

Nadine Rosier, one of the Baugh scholars, writes about the importance that Northern played in fulfilling her call: “I was called into Ministry many years ago but did not understand exactly what I was called to do and tried to take different paths.  When I came to Northern in 2015, I had suffered a great loss and had encountered much hurt and pain, but I knew that I could no longer run away from the calling that God had placed upon my life. He was using my life experiences for his Glory in order to help others – his hurting people!”

While in seminary, Tyler Hansen served as the Pastor of Youth Ministry at the Willow Creek Wheaton location. “I could have never anticipated how tumultuous my first three years in ministry were. My professors…. guided me so well, encouraging me to mine through my experiences and the texts we read together for learning and formation. God used Northern Seminary to remind me of the beauty of God and God’s people.”

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