CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT

In 25 years of ministry, J.D. Reed has served on two different continents, including youth pastor, associate pastor, nonprofit leader, and adjunct professor. One of the things that drew him to the DMin in Contextual Theology program at Northern Seminary was its focus on ethnography. By the time he came to Northern, he had already been studying culture for years while ministering in Bolivia. The DMin degree, he says, “helped to give me a better framework to understand the culture in a more comprehensive way.”

J.D. and his wife, Rhonda, felt a calling to cross-cultural ministry while he was working as a pastor in the U.S. In 2011 they were commissioned by American Baptist International Ministries (I.M.) and moved to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. In 2014, they took over a ministry that is now a nonprofit foundation called Fundación Proyecto de Esperanza (Project of Hope Foundation). This organization supports local ministries in the areas of health and wellness, local church empowerment, and leadership development.

Since 2017, J.D. has served as a Regional Consultant for Theological Education in Iberoamerica and the Caribbean with I.M. He also helps direct a joint program with Palmer Theological Seminary to provide a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) in Latino/a Ministries throughout the Americas. “It is an ATS accredited online masters in Spanish and Portuguese,” J.D. says. “It’s a very successful program that has had 114 graduates in five years. In May, we celebrated 60 graduates from all over the region, who were recognized in a 2020 and 2021 commencement due to the pandemic.”

When J.D. began researching doctoral programs, he couldn’t decide between a PhD and a DMin. “When I came across Northern,” he says, “it was not only a good mix of what I liked about both types of doctorates, but the faculty in the Contextual Theology doctorate was amazing. When I saw the faculty list, I knew that this was the program that I wanted to pursue.”

Of the many highlights from his time at Northern, one of the most important has been getting to know his cohort. “We came together and developed fast friendships that have and will continue for a long time. This community has been one over the past five years that have encouraged and challenged me.”

“Our cohort group was interesting,” J.D. says. “Our denominational lives were very different, and our group was spread over two continents. This provided opportunity for rich discussion and debate over the issues of the day and how they relate to us individually. Not only that, it provided a space so that we could all grow in our understanding of each other and our practices to have a more well-rounded experience of faith in our own settings.”

With his degree complete, J.D. and his family will return to Bolivia for another five-year term in August.


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