February Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Pastoral relationships stretch during a crisis. In 2020 and into this year, churches are experiencing multiple tests. They are addressing a pandemic, technology challenges, masks, Christian nationalism, racial injustice, grief and funerals, a riot at the Capitol, and more. And they are dealing with all of these things without the ability to do what most churches do best—gather. It is no surprise that most pastors and churches are feeling stuck. Like Israelites in the wilderness at Rephidim, they wait in the “wide space” (“Rephidim” in Hebrew),  complaining to each other and hoping for God’s intervention. Pastors are familiar with Moses’ question: “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” (Exodus 17:1-7).

The good news is that by God’s grace, Northern Seminary delivers hope, training, and encouragement to these pastors. Northern trains leaders to think biblically about their context, connect with faculty for the journey, and access the tools to accomplish Christ’s mission. This month you can experience what Northern classes are all about at the Taste of Northern February 22. Subscribe to a new resource to help you think theologically about Black History month and the legacy of the Black church through Esau McCaulley’s new course. Our faculty have published books to study the Bible and seek God’s direction through prayer. Northern is deploying alumni and friends to minister to an underserved community in the pandemic: persons ministering with ALS.

Why do we do this? Because this is how we lead the church and engage the world. We are living into our vision during a pandemic. No one called to ministry expects the journey to be easy. Our seminary accompanies pastoral leaders through the wilderness. If you’re in one of those “wide spaces,” I encourage you to reach out to me or one of our staff or faculty. We are here to pray for you and connect you to resources. Learn from the Israelites: God will provide the water you need; keep praying your questions to God. Erect a monument during Lent, and name it “The Lord is my Banner.” One day soon, by God’s grace, you will look back to this time and remember that God was with you.




Join us TONIGHT for Taste of Northern. Taste is a one-night event created so you can experience class just as a seminary student experiences it. Taste of Northern is a fantastic way for you to think through and consider the possibility of attending seminary by giving you tremendous insight before making the big decision.

You will experience class discussion, student testimonies, and faculty interaction. You can also have the opportunity to talk with our admissions staff and sit in on one of the courses currently being held at Northern via our Northern Live platform.

It’s not too late to register. We look forward to seeing you in class, tonight!


P.S. Even if a seminary degree is not in your future, please feel free to join us just for the experience. You can even sit in on a class taught by our President, Dr. Bill Shiell.


Seminary Now: NEw course For Black History Month

Esau McCaulley has released a new streaming video course! Watch the 2-minute trailer now at SeminaryNow.com.

Growing up in the American South, Esau McCaulley knew firsthand the ongoing struggle between despair and hope that marks the lives of some in the African American context. A key element in the fight for hope, he discovered, has long been the practice of Bible reading and interpretation that comes out of traditional Black churches.



New Publications from Northern Professors 

Dr. Lynn H. Cohick, Provost and Dean                       

The Letter to the Ephesians
2020 Award Winner of the Center for Biblical Studies
New Testament Commentary of the Year
Read the synopsis and purchase from Amazon



Dr. Nijay K. Gupta, New Testament Professor

Cruciform Scripture: Cross, Participation, and Mission (contributing editor)
Read the synopsis and purchase from Amazon



Dr. Scot McKnight, New Testament Professor 

To You All Hearts are Open
Read the synopsis and purchase from Amazon






The Grow Center for Church and Mission recently launched the ALS Family of Faith, to provide Christ-centered counseling and support services to people living with ALS, their families and their caregivers. When a person comes to familyoffaith.center, they can get connected to a counselor or chaplain who has been equipped to walk with them through this difficult season, all through a biblical lens. A generous donor is subsidizing the cost, so this service is of no cost to those living with ALS and their communities. Read more about this new ministry here. If you know someone suffering with ALS who would benefit from this ministry, contact Sarah Martel Lee at smartel@thegrowcenter.com. If you are a chaplain or counselor and would like to serve in this ministry, contact Sarah Martel Lee at smartel@thegrowcenter.com.


Church Planting Institute 

In late January over 100 participants joined Professor Dave Fitch and instructor Hugh Halter in a church planting webinar. This event marked the launch of Northern’s Church Planting Institute, which will officially begin in fall of 2021. (Here is a preview of our developing website: https://churchpi.com/)

The webinar started with Dr. Fitch giving a history of church planting in North America. He proposed an innovative approach of church planting that considers the shifting context of post-Christendom. In this unique environment we cannot rely on the old metrics of church attendance or assume there will be financial support. Rather, we need to re-imagine church planting as missionaries in a strange new culture.




Today, we stand on the shoulders of these who have gone before us. They cheer us on from the “cloud of witnesses.” By giving to Northern Seminary, you can pass the baton to the next generation of pastoral leaders.



P.S. Have you ever considered a gift to Northern in your Will? Please reach out to discuss more by contacting Jeff Bope (jbope@seminary.edu).

Your friend,
William D. Shiell
President and Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching, Northern Seminary

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