President’s July Newsletter

Dear Friends,

During this pandemic, we have felt compelled to love the Lord with body, soul, mind, and strength. With our bodies, we have shared generously with students in need. With our souls, we have worked with all of our hearts to open a new entrepreneurial training center for apostolic pastors, church planters, and professionals. You’ll read below about the Grow Center for Church and Mission. With our minds, we have offered classes for church leaders ministering through the pandemic. With our strength, we have remained focused on our mission to train pastoral leaders for the church. Thank you for your continued partnership with Northern!


Earlier this year, Linda Owens, Executive Director of Student Services/Registrar and Pam Sheldon, Director of Operations became aware of students who had emergency financial needs during COVID. They were in need of assistance with rent, food, and utility bills. Through the generosity of Northern’s givers and the CARES act, Northern has been able to assist 21 students with over $16,000 in emergency requests.

One such student who received the grant was Gloria Williams, a Chicago-based Master of Arts in Urban Leadership student. Gloria is already an active volunteer in her community of Englewood, leads community clean up efforts, and ministers to the homeless population. With the Coronavirus looming, Gloria’s employer cut her work hours, and she did not receive a full paycheck. This financial strain put her in a bind with both school and living expenses. She could not afford to put gas in her car.

“Times were really rough,” she said. “I had two student loans I couldn’t pay, and the bills were doubling up. I was feeling all kinds of anxiety – even to the point of not being able to sleep at night. I had to make a decision about whether I was going to eat or pay my bills – sometimes I didn’t eat to keep the electricity on.”

God truly answered prayers when Gloria received her emergency financial aid grant. “I can only thank God – and Northern,” she said. “I can breathe a little. The money gave me a chance to catch up. I’m also just starting a new job, so things are definitely looking better.”

Gloria plans to partner with Chicago Cares in August to host two more cleanup efforts and to continue her studies at Northern Seminary.


The Grow Center for Church and Mission launches this month at Northern Seminary. This new division of Northern will connect “Starters” (entrepreneurially-gifted Christian business professionals, pastors, and church planters) to grow in wisdom in order to help churches thrive.

Every congregation has an untapped resource- persons who are gifted as apostles (Ephesians 4). These “sent ones” often bring new ideas to congregations—whether as entrepreneurial professionals, church planters, or pastors. In these days of COVID-19, starters can design innovative ministries to respond to the changing world. We are particularly interested in training congregations of color to engage their communities and empower women to use their gifts.

We are excited to welcome Tommy Lee as the new Executive Director of the division. He joins Hugh Halter who has already begun training students this summer and is planning for the first immersion experience in Alton, Illinois September 28-30. Tommy is currently the President of Resource Global, where he develops initiatives to engage marketplace leaders, trains and coaches marketplace leaders to integrate faith and work, collaborates with churches and ministry organizations to develop city engagement strategies, coordinates with non-profit ministries to evaluate strategic plans, and assists Christian business owners to start businesses in under-resourced areas. Tommy and his family live on the South Side of Chicago.

Tommy is very excited to oversee the goals of this endeavor. He explains, “While there will always be a need for traditionally trained seminary pastors, new partnerships and training programs will have to be established to engage against the decline of the church taking place all over the world. The goal is to convene starters (pastors, church planters, churches, and Christian business professionals) to become the modern-day pastor and entrepreneurial ministry leader.”

He continues, “This will be accomplished through networking and mutual learning, but also hearing from ministry and marketplace leaders all over the world. My hope is that the Grow Center for Church and Mission will develop these individuals who will help their churches and communities flourish. Together, we will take the Gospel to all the ends of the Earth.”

The Grow Center is currently seeking Fellows to participate in the first cohort in a program called, “Two Years to Grow.” These Fellows are women and men from a variety of contexts who share a passion to start new ventures. They are also centered on the person and presence of Jesus and his mission in the world. Our Fellows are practitioners from all seasons of life. Some are just getting started and some have decades of experience, but everyone has a vision to grow something new.

Fellows will receive

  1. Connection with other people who are gifted similarly.
  2. Biblical training to gather and mobilize leaders effectively.
  3. Spiritual practices for apostolic ventures.
  4. Resources to communicate their vision in their context.

Over two years, Fellows will

  1. Be a part of an immersion experience for apostolic, entrepreneurial church planters, thriving marketplace professionals, and church leaders.
  2. Two years of cohort experiences and learning labs where they pressure-test their ideas and implement their projects with their congregations.
  3. A closing celebration where Grow Center Fellows can celebrate together.

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

Contact Tommy Lee at


This year’s Urban Faith Leaders Symposium will focus on Meeting the Ministry Challenges of COVID-19. The panels and the Evening in the Word will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, August 12.

Sessions include: Preaching in a Pandemic: Speaking Truth to Power and Encouragement to the Powerless, Spiritual & Physical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), Social Justice and the Black Lives Matter Movement, and Lessons Learned from the Pandemic.

Learn more and register online ❯

IVP and Seminary Now Announce Launch of New Online Educational Platform

Northern Seminary and InterVarsity Press (IVP) are pleased to announce the general-market release of Seminary Now (, a new subscription-based online educational platform that gives pastors and lay church leaders access to on-demand video courses and certification programs from leading teachers and seminaries. IVP is the premier publishing partner for the platform, which launched in beta this spring and is now available for wide release.

“I continue to be deeply grateful for the chance to partner with the team at Seminary Now as together and in concert with other like-minded organizations we create and deliver thoughtful Christian content to pastors, students, and others who want to deepen their understanding of theology, ecclesiology, biblical studies, social justice, spiritual formation, and many other disciplines,” Jeff Crosby, IVP’s publisher, said. “The courses are exceptional in content and creative expression. I’m delighted to see the messages of so many of our authors given fresh life and realizing an expanded reach through the Seminary Now platform.”


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Your friend,

William D. Shiell
President, Northern Seminary

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