Northern Seminary Inaugurates 11th President

Dr. William D. Shiell is the eleventh President of Northern Seminary. Dr. Ricky Freeman delivered the inaugural address. A Northern alumnus and pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, Freeman noted the importance of seminary education today. He emphasized how significant it would be for Northern to be portable and personal in carrying out its mission. Using Mark 6 as a guide, he challenged those gathered for the ceremony to carry out Jesus’ mission in neighborhoods around the world.

Dr. Gene Crume, Judson University’s President delivered the charge to Dr. Shiell. He called for the President to “trust and obey” amidst high expectations and challenging circumstances. Other representatives included Dr. Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Rev. Rachel Cocar, assistant executive director of the Great Rivers Region of American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., and Corey Farr, student at Northern Seminary. Numerous other delegates from sister institutions and denominational groups attended. Dr. Shiell responded with a short message thanking Northern’s faculty, the trustees, and those in attendance for being a part of the ceremony and his nomination as the 11th President of Northern Seminary.

At the inaugural dinner, Dr. Shiell offered his hopes for the future of Northern. He likened his call to Northern to his connection to the Pensacola Naval Air Station museum. The museum has preserved planes salvaged from Lake Michigan that date back to World War 2. Shiell said that God has redeemed and called ministers out of the waters of baptism. In his remarks, he cited 1 Samuel 3 that in the midst of dark times, “the lamp of God has not gone out.” Shiell, a graduate of Baylor University and Samford University, reflected on his time as a pastor in Texas, Tennessee, and Florida. His seminary training did not prepare him for the challenges of today’s cities. But Northern Seminary is doing precisely just that. At Northern, Shiell said, students, faculty, and staff, are “living Christ’s call.” They have come to Northern to be trained to lead the church and engage the world. Northern’s future will need to be affordable to students, accessible in delivering education to students, and contextual in curriculum options for each community. Noting the high cost of seminary education, Shiell challenged Northern’s friends to become partners for students without a church ministry partnership and to invite pastors to become a part of Northern’s future. “When pastors change, the whole church can change,” said Shiell. By focusing our training on pastors and church leaders, Shiell stated that we will be following Paul’s plan to “press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”


At their annual meeting, the trustees also received an outstanding enrollment report. Northern welcomed its largest student body since 2007, including an 83% increase in new students this fall over last year.

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