Expanded Mission in 2023

January 19, 2023

by William D. Shiell

Northern Seminary is expanding our mission in 2023 even as we celebrate 110 years of ministry. With students, subscribers, and participants from 40 states and 10 countries training across multiple centers and degree programs, Northern is courageously living into our identity as a multi-denominational seminary for Christian leaders. We believe that Spirit-led innovation is needed for existing churches and new congregations to engage the world with the gospel. As we look to the coming months, we want to ignite the flames of Pentecost and blow the winds of the Spirit in six significant ways.

Diverse Calling

We already demonstrate Christ’s hope, peace, justice, and love globally across cultural, ethnic, and racial boundaries. We continue to welcome and affirm both women and men to fulfill their callings as led by the Spirit. This year, we are excited to announce that all new students at Northern will take at least one course in Black church theology, and we are launching a new Urban Leadership specialization to complement our degree programs.

Our global reach continues through programs and pilgrimages. In January, we began the new Master of Arts in Worship Korean-language program. This year, students from Jerusalem University College will enroll in the Master of Arts in Old Testament, and the Grow Center will continue to offer the Ray Bakke Certificate for Entrepreneurial Leadership to global marketplace leaders.

We do and will travel to historic biblical sites. Students in the Center for Women in Leadership have just returned from Italy. Preaching students will travel to Israel in April, and the Christian Community Development program will travel on the Civil Rights Historic tour and travel to Kenya to train leaders in Kibera.

Educational Excellence

Technology has enhanced our commitment to educational excellence. This winter, we are launching two new certificate programs. The first is the Graduate Certificate in Baptist Leadership is targeted at our historic Baptist partnership with ABC regions and the BGAV. The second will be a certificate program in church planting which we will do in partnership with the V3 Movement.

Scriptural Leaders

Now more than ever, we need biblical shepherds who are willing to “tend the flock under their care” courageously and resourcefully. Our faculty are teaching and publishing foundational resources designed to deepen biblical knowledge and apply this learning in context. Three Northern faculty are co-editing an updated Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Dr. Marshall Hatch will release a book of eulogies preached at funerals on the West Side of Chicago. Dr. Scot McKnight and Dr. Nijay Gupta are publishing several new books on women and leadership, and discipleship.

Innovative Programs

Seminary Now is becoming an accessible platform for ministries around the world and has launched partnerships with Right Now Media and YouVersion to make several courses available through these platforms.

We are also excited to partner with the Ascent Network to design evangelism and discipleship training for churches engaging with Millennials and Generation Z.

Relational Community

Throughout the year, Northern will host symposium-style events to strengthen relationships with churches and alumni and give prospective students an opportunity to experience seminary education. Three upcoming events are the Brady Theology & Mission Lecture on June 8-9, the Urban Leadership Symposium this summer, and the Tov for Women Conference this fall.

Economic Affordability

We will continue to make seminary education affordable, renewing our commitment to helping students budget their finances and increasing scholarships for all students.

Last week at Northern, our preaching and New Testament students reenacted the speeches from the book of Acts. They delivered them as if they were the apostles in the early churches. One student who reflected on the experience remarked, “I moved from analyzing the scripture to experiencing the Bible.” In 2023, my prayer is that everyone touched by Northern will experience the Bible for themselves in new and fresh ways.

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