Northern Graduates 58 Pastoral Leaders
By: Northern Seminary
William D. Shiell
This month, 58 students graduated from Northern Seminary, ready to lead the church and engage the world. Over the last two years, we’ve graduated 120 students, the most in any two-year period at Northern in over 60 years. We praise the Lord for their willingness to say, “Here am I, send me.” These graduates represent 12 different Christian denominations. The class of 2022 already serve in states from New Hampshire to California, and 2 international countries. 86% of our students are placed in a ministry position within one year of their graduation. That means when a student comes to Northern, they are already focused on Christian ministry.
Northern is a vibrant community for spiritual growth, leadership training, and lifelong friendship. Here are just a few comments from our graduates about their experiences at Northern:
“Meeting these people in person (and in the pages of Scripture) has given me hope for the future in a dark time. There are good godly people, light-filled people, in this world. Seminary has been a dream come true for me, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
“I feel I have grown in my spiritual life so much more than during my previous theological studies. I know this experience has helped equip me for teaching and preaching in my home church.
“When I started at Northern, I had about 8 years of experience working in the church. I knew I wanted to go to seminary and be challenged in my thinking and grow my knowledge and love of God. Northern has provided me a place to grow as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor. I’m excited to take the things I have learned and experienced at Northern into practice at the church I’m leading
“I experienced my own call to vocational ministry as a teenager. However, I did not know how to make sense of it as a female, given my restrictive theology of gender roles at the time. As life unfolded, destructive experiences with Christians fostered disillusionment and caused me to question my faith and calling. Ironically, the first person who encouraged me to explore seminary was a Southern Baptist pastor who changed his views on women in ministry and saw the Spirit at work in me. My studies and relationships have helped me re-claim a hopeful vision of life in Christ and re-imagine my calling. I am especially grateful for my mother, who invited me into faith. She was an evangelist and pastor to me.”
We conferred degrees on several students who are here at Northern because of new partnerships. We have our first graduate from a new partnership with American Baptist Churches of Indiana/Kentucky. Under Rev. Soozi Whitten Ford’s leadership, we established the Teaching Church Initiative to provide opportunities for American Baptist pastors to learn affordably and remain in their churches while studying. The church has become a teaching church, providing scholarship funds along with the denomination to help these students afford the cost of theological education.
This year also marks the first graduating class of the Master of Arts in Christian Community Development (CCD). Under the direction of Dr. Wayne “Coach” Gordon, the CCD program first began as a concentration 10 years ago at Lawndale Community Church and has grown into a national degree program available via Northern Live to students around the world through a partnership with the Christian Community Development Association.
Last but certainly not least, we congratulate the first students from Northern’s Greater Cincinnati Center. Under the leadership of Bishop Gary Hayles, adjunct professor of preaching, we established this center at the City of Promise church in Fairfield, Ohio. We are thrilled to celebrate the first students who trained in CCD and New Testament programs.
With gratitude in our hearts, we recognized Dr. Jim Kent for over 15 years of service on our faculty. Jim has trained over 50 doctoral students, guiding them through thesis design, advising on footnotes, and getting them across the finish line. With a joyful spirit, encouraging smile, and prayers at every step of the way, Jim and Kathy Kent have truly been champions for Northern. Jim was our first director of the Teaching Church Initiative program and for many years taught Northern’s signature class on Small and Rural Church ministry. A Northern alumnus from the class of 1975, Northern would not be the seminary we are today without our favorite Michigan wolverine.
Let’s pray for these graduates and the churches and ministries where they serve. May we follow in their footsteps in obedience to God’s call.