In the summer of 2002, Western Theological Seminary set in motion the development of a “center for the continuing education of the church.” The vision was to expand the seminary’s continuing education efforts to include not only ministry professionals, but the whole people of God.
In 2002, Dr. George Hunsberger was named Dean of the new center, and Judy Bos joined George to provide necessary office support. In addition to developing new forms of continuing education, Dr. Hunsberger established a program of peer group learning for focused pastoral learning, funded through the Lilly Endowment, today called Sustaining Pastoral Excellence “Journey Groups”.
The financial grant from the Lilly Endowment, together with funds contributed to the Campaign for Western fund drive and creative partnering with RCA denominational agencies have enabled the Center to lead and facilitate a range of learning opportunities for the church. Journey was unveiled! This name reflects the image of the journey to which God beckons and calls us as God’s people, traveling and learning together as people on the Way.
To make tangible the partnership between the seminary and the General Synod of the RCA, Vicky Menning was added to the staff in the summer of 2003. That same year, Cynthia Holder-Rich was called by the seminary to the position of Associate Professor of Continuing Theological Education, and Carol Ann Bailey filled a second assistant position to oversee the administration of the SPE Journey Groups. Pablo Canche was added to plan continual learning events for Hispanic pastors. Upon accepting more responsibilities with the RCA, Vicky Menning’s transition led to Keith Derrick joining the staff in 2007, and the retirement of Judy Bos led to the hiring of Lee Ann Sotok in 2008.
The 2009 program year at WTS resulted once again in several staff changes at Journey. George Hunsberger, Pablo Canche, and Cynthia Holder-Rich made transitions out of Journey. Currently the staff includes Keith Derrick as Director, Lee Ann Sotok as Ridder Administrative Assistant, Steve VanderMolen as Ridder Regional Facilitator, and Tara Macias as Administrative Assistant.
Journey, as a center for the continuing education of the church through Western Theological Seminary, continues to plan creative ways to cultivate a culture of learning within the church. Endowments, grants, partnership events, and other continuing education efforts all attempt to develop learning communities to deepen the church’s growth in discipleship and mission. Join the Journey!