President’s December Newsletter

Northern trains pastoral leaders to “embrace uncertainty.” Dr. Ben Martel recently participated in the Grow Center’s 24-hour Global Church Forum in November. He discovered, like so many others during COVID-19, that disruptive times create opportunities for kingdom transformation. To that end, Northern is making a bold investment in the future. We are pleased to announce the appointment of two faculty positions in theology and ministry. Read about Dr. Beth Felker Jones and Dr. Marshall Hatch below.

Our students and alumni are engaging the world as well. Churches are renovating their facilities to adapt to ministry needs. Students are accepting calls to pastor churches during the pandemic, and more students are attending classes at Northern. In the middle of the Advent season, Christ’s light is shining from Northern. Merry Christmas to you and your family!


Beth Felker Jones and Marshall Hatch Appointed to the Faculty

Dr. Beth Felker Jones – Professor of Theology 

Dr. Jones earned her doctorate at Duke University and currently teaches systematic theology at Wheaton College. She is the author of several books, including Faithful: A Theology of Sex and Practicing Christian Doctrine: An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically.

Dr. Nijay K. Gupta, Professor of New Testament, comments, “Dr. Felker Jones is a world-class theologian; it is a massive honor to have her join the faculty of Northern Seminary. Her ability to talk about theology in both systematic and practical terms makes her a unique contributor to both our seminary and to scholarship.”

Rev. Dr. Marshall Elijah Hatch Sr. – Assistant Professor of Ministry

Dr. Hatch earned both a Doctorate of Ministry and a master’s degree in theological studies from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Since 1993, he has served as Senior Pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. He has a history of civic involvement spanning over 20 years.

“Northern Seminary is in a world-class city with world-class city pastors who have faithfully served the gospel in challenging times,” says Dr. Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Chair of New Testament, “and Dr. Marshall Hatch is known to all of us as a leading voice in the city of Chicago. He comes to us out of a deep commitment to the Lord, a rich variety of experience, and a robust passion to break down racial boundaries with the gospel.”



Lawndale Church Converts Space for Education During COVID

Northern alumnus and student Rev. James Brooks pastors Harmony Community Church on the West Side of Chicago. His church has transformed their worship center into a multi-purpose space for education during COVID-19. Read more about this exciting ministry here. Reprinted with permission from Pascal Sabino, Block Club Chicago.


Called to Pastor During COVID-19








Connecting Moses’ Journey and Ours in the Time of COVID

While at Northern, alumnus Casey Pitchford (MDiv 2020) participated in the seminary’s 2018 trip to Israel. With a guide from Jerusalem University College, he and others were immersed in the Holy Land of today and of times past. They visited numerous biblically significant sites, including the Sea of Galilee and the area where Moses wandered through the wilderness.


Experienced Leaders Continue to Develop at Northern Seminary

Northern Seminary students are far from new to ministry—many have been leading in the church for years. Keri Ladouceur is one such pastor-seminarian. Currently pursuing her Master of Arts in New Testament at Northern, she serves as community pastor at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois. She is also the founder of New Ground Network, where she coaches church leaders in developing their unique visions. Keri’s previous roles include serving as a marketplace executive and in senior leadership at Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, Illinois). She has coached pastors and nonprofit leaders for over a decade.



Microcourse Trains Pastor for Prison Ministry in the Pandemic

Even in the midst of a pandemic, Northern Seminary is equipping pastors to preach in federal prison. Russell Graham will tell you that Northern Seminary’s microcourses are designed for those with extreme schedules—people like him. He is a husband, works full-time, preaches, and leads a prison ministry at New Pasadena Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. In addition, he is pursuing a Master of Divinity from Northern Seminary.

“Microcourses allow me the great opportunity to commit to meet only four to five times and then the workload is on me to finish in my own timing,” explains Russell. And when you speak with him, you believe he will accomplish his God-given dream of an MDiv—regardless of any obstacles. Russell believes that “some dreams are your own and some God gives to you.”



Summer Intensive Encourages Pastors Facing Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual battles are a part of ministry in the New Testament and in today’s world. As pastors deal with COVID-19 and deep divisions in the country, Northern is equipping them to pastor effectively. This summer, Dr. Greg Boyd taught 32 pastoral leaders Christ-centered ministry in the face of evil.

One participant was Brian Mease, Lead Pastor of Landen Church in Maineville, Ohio. Brian says, “Although it is frequently stated that God’s church has a mission, a more accurate expression is God’s mission has a church.” Mease brings this ministry approach to his studies at Northern Seminary. “Our church is less Sunday-centered and more about returning rhythms of the church to dining room tables and homes. We are trying to create spiritual discussion versus spiritual monologue.” An experienced leader already, Brian sees the value in furthering theological study. “The onus is on me to represent my beliefs well, articulate them with clarity, and do so with emotional maturity. I hope a season of seminary will round out those things in me,” he reflects.



Global Church Forum Connects Marketplace Leaders to Innovative Ministries

The Grow Center Network held their first Global Church Forum in November. The forum brought experienced and emerging leaders together to share how they advance the gospel in cities around the world, into all spheres of life.

After attending the Forum, Dr. Ben Martel, a physician from Tennessee, says, “The sessions I was able to listen to stirred up desires that have been circling around in my heart for months. I was hooked from the initial conversation with Dr. Gorton about embracing uncomfortable. In medicine I learned long ago that this is vital when dealing with patients. That conversation enabled me to start seeing this uncertain time in my vocation as something to embrace. As I listened to Nico van der Merwe and others, I also found myself realizing that the business world and the health sector have many similarities. In both fields we can choose to be people who are primarily about making money. But this short time we have on this earth before we meet the King can be so much more productive than that!”



Join us for These Upcoming Events

Church Planting Webinar with David Fitch and Hugh Halter
Jan 23, 2021
9 am – noon






January 18 – 22, 2021
This week-long event will feature an array of speakers and events. More information will be announced in the following weeks on The Grow Center’s website, linked below!



So many of our students struggle financially during the pandemic. When you give this month, you can help us meet those needs and provide an affordable education now and in the future. Give now to help students fulfill their call during the pandemic.
Because of the CARES Act, individuals and corporations that itemize can deduct greater amounts of their contributions this tax year. To consider how you can optimize your giving, contact your tax advisor.



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


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