Rev. Dr. Karen Walker Freeburg Named Acting President of Northern Seminary

April 28, 2023


The Board of Northern Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Karen Walker Freeburg as Acting President. Her tenure begins immediately and will continue through October 14, 2023 or the selection of an Interim President.

Freeburg replaces Rev. Dr. John C. Bowling, retired President of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, who was called to serve as Acting President following the resignation of seminary President Dr. William Shiell.

Dr. Freeburg brings unique experience for leading the seminary. She served as interim president of Northern during the previous presidential search process and led significant accomplishments as interim, including gaining approval from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) for groundbreaking educational delivery systems.

Dr. Freeburg graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, with a bachelor of arts degree in communication. She earned both a Masters and a Doctorate degree in divinity from Northern.

Dr. Freeburg was Northern’s Vice President and Chief Academic Officer from 2004-2018 and served in other positions at Northern starting in 1994.

Since leaving Northern as Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Freeburg has remained an adjunct faculty member, serving as Thesis Supervisor to Doctor of Ministry students and mentoring Northern female graduates serving in pastoral ministry.

“Karen Walker Freeburg was the unanimous choice of the board to provide leadership at this time as we focus on the mission of this seminary to prepare women and men called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to advance and nurture the ministries of the church,” said Harriet Harral, Ph.D., secretary of the board of trustees. “Her experience and knowledge of Northern will provide support to all constituencies of the seminary.”

Dr. Freeburg is known for her commitment to trust-based organizational leadership, change and growth management, and stakeholder relations.

Recently, as President of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan, and member of the Executive Committee, she has prepared the region to reshape the organizational structure to better serve congregations and pastoral leaders.  The creation of new strategic partnerships and collaboration are highlights of her ministry tenure, research and teaching in the region.

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