President’s August Newsletter

Dear Northern Friends,

What happens when the future comes upon you? It’s one thing to plan for a future using vision, strategy, and calendars. The biblical pattern is quite different. We watch, wait, pray, and anticipate that God holds the future in his hands. When life changes, we courageously walk forward the new future knowing that Jesus Christ will give us wisdom to minister and engage the unexpected.

We’re living in that unplanned future now at Northern, and God is blessing. Over 275 people have subscribed to Seminary Now in the last two months. Over 75 have participated in special summer courses to address ministry challenges in the pandemic. You’ll read about the impact of these courses below. You’ll learn about the new virtual preaching conference coming in October and hear about the impact of the virtual Urban Leadership Symposium. In summary, here’s what’s happening in Northern right now.

We need these resources and ministries to lead the church and engage the new world now more than ever. You can help us fulfill this vision and support financially by signing for the virtual Founders Day October 8 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. Host a watch party, and help us raise scholarships for all of our programs.

Northern Responds to Pastors’ Needs During the Pandemic

3 New Intensives on Leading during the Pandemic.
When COVID-19 shut down the world, we received emails, phone calls, and messages from pastors looking for resources on how to adapt their gatherings, how to steward money during the economic crisis, and how to respond to global grief.

In response, Northern provided three summer online intensives taught by Hugh Halter (Mission Innovation), Gary Hoag (Faith & Finances) and Nijay Gupta (Philippians: Faith & Joy in Difficult Times). 73 students learned from these theologian-practitioners about how to lead their congregations during the pandemic.

One of those students is Veronica Alexander, a member and pastor-in training at Covenant United Church of Christ, a 3,000-person congregation on Chicago South’s Side. When COVID hit they had to innovate quickly, so Veronica enrolled in Hugh Halter’s class, Mission Innovation. Veronica writes, “This class provided a new way of doing ministry outside of the church setting (building). We talked about different ways to transition our church to a new way of doing ministry.”


Register to Join Us for Northern Seminary’s Virtual Founders Day Celebration!

Thursday, October 8, 2020
7:00 – 8:15 p.m. (CST)
via Northern Live or one of our Regional Centers

You’re invited to join Northern Seminary, either virtually or in-person at one of our Regional Centers, to celebrate the inspiring work our faculty, staff, and students have done for the Church. Join us as we come together to celebrate and look toward the future of Northern.
The program will feature Northern alumnus Reverend Eddie Smith, Sr. – Senior Pastor at Tuxedo Park Baptist Church in Indianapolis, an update on Northern led by President William D. Shiell, a celebration of the launch of Seminary Now, and worship by 10,000 Fathers – led by Northern alumnus, Aaron Keyes.

Reverend Eddie Smith, Sr
Aaron Keyes
of 10,000 Fathers





Attire is business casual. Free Parking is available on site.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University in Chicago and a Master of Divinity degree from Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. Pastor Eddie has also studied Biblical Geography and History at Jerusalem University College in Jerusalem, Israel.


New Kind of Preacher Forum







REGISTER NOW – Friday, October 16

Throughout history, preachers have shared the daunting task of leading the church through hardship and trial. During the most harrowing and chaotic times in human history, preachers have dared to speak on God’s behalf to God’s people. Every generation of preachers steps into the pulpit well aware of their own shortcomings while at the same time, in awe of how God can use the Church to meet the great needs of their time. Preaching helps lead people and bring that change about.

2020 has provided a chaotic season for the Church in America. A global pandemic and renewed calls for justice and equality have met with a deeply divided political climate.

This year, Northern is proud to share conversations around the art of preaching again through our Annual Preaching Forum, in partnership with our New Kind of Preacher Program. We’ll host a half-day, online event featuring a variety of pastors and ministry leaders across the country.

This year’s theme is Preaching the Long Road. We’ll explore how good preaching can continue to spur God’s people on to good works. Through online sessions we will consider:

  • Is preaching still relevant?
  • How has preaching changed this year?
  • How must we continue to engage the issues of justice and reconciliation?
  • What do preachers need to do in this season to stay connected to their congregations?
  • What must a preacher do to deepen their own soul care and discipleship during this exhausting season?

Join us on Friday, October 16th, from 11am to 2pm CST as we offer a 3-hour series of workshops titled Preaching the Long Road.

Invite your ministry team(s) to join you for this event that will encourage preachers, youth pastors, teachers, and communicators from across a variety of ministries.



Grow Center’s first webinar

God is in the Details: a Conversation with Tony Bancroft
Join us as we listen to Tony’s inspiring story from the ghettos of Long Beach, through pursuing and realizing his dream to animate for Disney, to his newest role as a Lead Animator for Space Jam: A New Legacy with Warner Bros. Tony will share how he has seen God in the midst of the details throughout his life and how the Lord has shaped him through this journey.

August 27, 2020
8:30 AM CST | 9:30 AM EST



Why Apply to The Grow Center for Church and Mission?
Last month, we launched The Grow Center for Church and Mission. The Grow Center is connecting “starters” (entrepreneurial pastors, church planters, and Christian business professionals) by gathering and training leaders who are creating ways to impact the kingdom through entrepreneurial endeavors.

The need for innovative ideas in ministry is particularly vital in our world today. As we navigate a pandemic, the church must respond quickly and creatively to meet spiritual needs in our ever-changing world. Designed specifically to help entrepreneurial ministry leaders, we endeavor to find ways to bring new ideas to the church in the U.S. and around the world.

Who can benefit from The Grow Center?
Individuals who may want to join a Grow Center cohort come from a variety of contexts and backgrounds, share a passion to start new ventures, and love Jesus. Cohort candidates are looking for growth and leadership opportunities and may fall into one, or more, of these categories:

  • A formal, seminary degree is not required for a ministerial position, but additional education would be beneficial
  • Bi-vocational or co-vocational pastors and church planters
  • Living in areas where Christian resources are limited, or seminary is financially out-of-reach
  • Business professionals who do not need a seminary degree, but want additional education to serve in leadership positions in the local church
  • Retired (or semi-retired) business professionals who are looking to serve the church more formally when retired, but want additional training for leadership positions

Apply to be a Grow Center Fellow Today
The Grow Center is seeking individuals to participate in our first cohort program called “Two Years to Grow.” By joining the Grow Center cohort, members will receive:

  • Connection: a community of fellow travelers who are gifted similarly and the teachers who will be part of teaching in the network
  • Learning: biblical and practical training
  • Innovation: opportunities to design and implement new ministry ideas
  • Partnerships: direct access to speakers, teachers, and networks of like-minded peers and professionals
  • Diversity: members from all seasons of life with differing experiences and cultures, but all with a vision to grow something new for the Kingdom

The Grow Center is where men and women can explore and design new and innovative ideas to serve the church, entrepreneurial leaders will experience community, and individual growth will lead to kingdom growth as innovative ideas reach churched and unchurched people around the world.

Apply Now and learn more about “Two Years to Grow”

Contact Tommy Lee at

2020 Graduation Information

The graduation ceremony will be held on Saturday, October 10, 2020 in the main sanctuary of Christ Church of Oak Brook at 10:00 a.m. The commencement speaker will be Dr. Marshall Hatch.

Click here to read the details about commencement





Support the New Northern

By giving to Northern Seminary you are able to invest directly into the Kingdom of God through our students.




Your friend,

William D. Shiell
President, Northern Seminary

Ready to start your seminary Experience?

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