After pastoring churches in Illinois and Michigan for 10 years, class of ’66 alumnus George Boerigter decided to use his seminary training for something different–running a business! Check out how he does ministry at his company, SoundOff Signal in Hudsonville, MI.

Wednesday, September 26 at 7:00 PM in Mulder Chapel

Join Rev. Bill Gaventa for a presentation and discussion on new resources, promising practices, and problem areas in the rapidly growing movements and initiatives to include people with disabilities and their families in faith communities and in ministry/theological training.

Rev. Bill Gaventa has lived and worked at the intersection of disability, faith, and theology for over 40 years.  He taught a course in Western’s Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry (MN586Disability, Community Supports and Faith: Foundations and Strategies for Effective Collaboration) and completed and refined his recent book, Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness (Baylor University Press), while teaching it.  He is also the founder and Director of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability, which WTS will host this year May 20-23.

Fourth-year distance-learning student Rudy Rubio had a rough life before encountering the Lord. Born and raised on the toughest streets of L.A., Rudy joined a gang at age 13 and spent the next 20 years in and out of jail. During his last prison sentence, Rudy fell on his knees, asking God to deliver him from the lifestyle he had been living. From that point on, he dedicated his life to serving the Lord Jesus.

Being in prison no longer as a gangster but as a new and developing Christian was one of the hardest times in Rudy’s life. He didn’t know who he was anymore.

“But as time went by and I studied God’s Word, I soon discovered that my identity was not in the mistakes I had made, the gang I’d belonged to, or my long criminal record,” he says. “My identity was in the risen Christ who had chosen me before the foundation of the earth, and while I was still a sinner, died for me.”

It is hard to guess Rudy’s past when looking at him today. A loving family man—husband to Edna, father to four children, and first-time grandfather—he now spends his days sharing Christ’s love with people in his neighborhood of Lynwood, CA, reading theology as he studies for seminary classes, and pastoring the Reformed Church of Los Angeles (RCLA). The church is the fulfillment of a 6-year dream.

Local Lynwood pastor and leaders showing support of the launch of RCLA.

In 2010, Rudy joined Emmanuel Reformed in Paramount, CA, where he was mentored by Rev. Eddy Aleman, now the General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Eddy saw that God was working in the lives of Rudy and Edna, and he challenged them to consider planting a church in L.A. At first Rudy was shocked at the prospect, but by the end of their conversation, he could already feel the Lord stirring his imagination for what a church in “the hood” could look like.

Rudy ended up joining the staff at Emmanuel and learning the ropes of ministry and church operations. He also became a student at Western Theological Seminary, studying for his Master of Divinity degree.

Not all his learning has come from the classroom. Rudy had been deeply affected by an event where he heard Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae perform alongside spoken-word poets. Not only did it speak to Rudy’s love of poetry, it made him realize that people like him, with all he went through in his past, could reach out to others going through similar struggles.

“That moment truly changed my perspective on what Christianity looks like practically lived out,” he explains. “It means not hiding our ethnicity, not working around our cultural differences, but instead using the very nature of who we are as a people—black, brown, Asian, and everything in between—for the sake of the Gospel…reaching our own people in a way that only we can.”

With the blessing of Emmanuel Church, Rudy started an annual spoken-word poetry and hip-hop show to raise funds for church plants.

Finally, in 2017, the church assembled a LAUNCH team of families and individuals (including Chris Marquez, also a 4th year M.Div. student at WTS) to plant Reformed Church of Los Angeles.

Sharing in the Lord’s Supper at RCLA’s launch service.

In the summer the team visited churches in Lynwood, Compton, and Watts, as well as RCA churches in the greater L.A. area to learn the ways they were engaging their respective communities. That fall the team hosted seven weeks of public worship in Lynwood Park and then transitioned into a building where they continued for several months. On March 25, 2018, RCLA hosted just under 300 people for their official grand opening and Palm Sunday meal.

“Many people from my past life came to our Grand Opening to show support, to encourage, and even ask to join RCLA—people who knew me when I was involved with gangs, used and sold drugs, and even went to prison with!” Rudy exclaims.

God is making all things new. Rudy prays that RCLA will be a catalyst to foster a new culture, to love a community in the name of Christ, and to bring the existing churches together for the common good of Lynwood.

“I want to offer the greatest gift we possess…the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” says Rudy. “I pray for RCLA to make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

To read more about Rudy’s story, learn of prayer requests, and keep up with news from RCLA, go to: www.urbanchurchplanting.blog.

The 8th Annual Leonard F. Stoutemire Lecture in Multicultural Ministry

“Indigenous Theology as Original Instructions”

with Dr. Randy Woodley

Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture and Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox University and Portland Seminary

September 24, 2018 at 1:30pm in Mulder Chapel

Indigenous Theology, in some ways, may be thought of as the universal system promoting the Common Good. The Western worldview has, in many ways, alienated humanity from the purposes of Jesus and from serious action concerning reconciling with the community of creation.

Centering Jesus in our theology as the cosmic Christ/Creator and understanding his mission as reinterpreting the ancient Sabbath/Jubiliee/Shalom system for all people will shed light on how far the Western worldview has taken us from those who wrote in the Scriptures and the Christ we follow.

Rev. Randy Woodley, PhD, is an activist/scholar and distinguished speaker, teacher, and wisdom keeper who addresses a variety of issues concerning American history and culture, missiology, shalom, postcolonial theology, community-building, faith, socio-justice, diversity, regenerative farming, climate-change and our relationship with the earth and Indigenous realities. Woodley regularly blogs in these areas and publishes his own blog, ” Ethnic Space and Faith.” He also has a new podcast out called Peacing it All Together.

Randy was raised near Detroit, Michigan and is a legal descendent of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. He is a member of the Oregon Department of Education American Indian/Alaska Native Advisory Board, Greater Portland Native American Climate Council and other service organizations.

Dr. Woodley was pastor of the Eagle Valley Church in Carson City, Nevada, which for many years served as a unique role model as an authentic Native American Christian church. He and his wife Edith, cofounders of Eagle’s Wings Ministry, are considered early innovators in what has been dubbed the “Native American Contextual Movement.” The Woodleys have spent over 25 years of culturally contextual service in Native North American communities. Randy Woodley is a founding board member of NAIITS, the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies and he administers the Fox/ NAIITS cooperative Master of Arts Intercultural Studies degree.

Woodley Bio

WTS President position profile here

For most favorable consideration, applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and a letter of interest by October 15, 2018.


July 31, 2018

Our presidential search committee is delighted to share that we are continuing to make good progress on this important project.

We retained the consulting services of CarterBaldwin Executive Search Services out of Atlanta. CarterBaldwin has conducted searches for presidents for a broad range of Christian colleges, universities, seminaries and major non-profits. Dr. Debby White and Price Harding of CarterBaldwin were recently on our campus and met with members of the search committee and campus representatives to understand various perspectives regarding the kind of president for which we may be looking.

CarterBaldwin will be submitting a draft of the position profile to the search committee with the expectation that a public version will be available in the coming weeks. That position profile will be accessible on the Western website and will contain instructions for nominating or referring prospective candidates or for submitting an application.

These are exciting times for Western, and we look forward to updating our Western community as new information is available. We covet your prayers for God’s leadership on our committee and on this search process.

Sincerely,

Carol Van Andel and Kris DePree
Search Committee Co-Chairs

 


A search team began meeting in April to find the next president to lead Western Theological Seminary after Dr. Timothy Brown retires from the presidency on June 30, 2019.

From left to right, members include:

Steve Spoelhof
WTS Trustee starting in fall
Carol Van Andel
Co-chair, WTS Trustee
Kris DePree
Co-chair, WTS Trustee
Dr. Han-luen Kantzer Komline
WTS Faculty
Rev. Eddy Alemán ‘04
RCA General Secretary-Elect, WTS Trustee
Rev. Joe Graham ‘14
Local pastor, Alumni Advisory Board
Dr. Ben Conner
WTS Faculty
Mary Bauman (not pictured)
Former WTS Trustee
Rev. Gail Ebersole (not pictured)
WTS Trustee
Phil Miller (not pictured)
WTS Trustee
Rev. Cora Taitt (not pictured)
WTS Trustee

We are eager to welcome you to campus!

SCHEDULE

Wednesday, August 29
Orientation for new incoming students will begin at 9:00 AM with worship.

9:00 – Welcome and Worship with President Timothy Brown
9:45 – Coffee/Prayer Time in the Atrium (new students will have photo IDs taken)
10:30 – Orientation to Chapel
11:00 – Introduction to the M.Div. Curriculum
11:30 – EdTech Team Introduction
11:40 – Introduction to Formation for Ministry Process and Peer Groups
12:00 – Lunch with Peer Group Facilitators
12:15 – Lunch—ThM students—with their advisors
1:30-5:00 – Psychological Testing
6:00 Dinner at the home of President Tim and Nancy Brown

Thursday, August 30
Orientation for ALL students begins at 8:30 AM in the Commons with breakfast.

8:30 – Dean’s Breakfast for all new and returning students
9:40 – Worship in Mulder Chapel
10:15 – Coffee/Prayer Time in the Atrium
10:30 – Juniors—Meet the Student Council
Middlers & Seniors—Chapel Check-in
11:00 – View of Our Life Together at WTS with President Timothy Brown (Mulder Chapel)
12:00-2:00 — Advisors and students meet in Atrium to receive West Coast Cash and go to lunch.
2:00 – Sessions
Juniors—People you should get to know around the seminary
Middlers—Intercultural Immersion
Seniors—Career Services
3:00 – NEW BUILDING TOUR—David Becker and Norm Donkersloot will lead tours of the new building.
3:00-4:00 – Dual Trackers meet with Glenn Swier
MAs meet with David Komline
5:30-7:00 – “All Seminary Picnic” by the Redbrick Townhouses—13th Street Parking Lot

Questions? Contact Beth Smith at 616.392.8555, x131.

BL531 New Testament Theology: Issues and Themes

with Dr. Christopher Beetham

  • Tuesdays 5:30-8:30, Sept 4- Dec 21
  • Course held on campus at Western Theological Seminary

About Christopher Beetham:

(from Zondervan)

Christopher Beetham is the Senior Editor of Biblical Languages, Textbooks, and Reference Tools at Zondervan, a part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Before joining Zondervan, Beetham and his family served as missionaries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he taught at The Evangelical Theological College and The Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. He has published two titles on biblical scholarship, Colossians and Philemon and Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians.

BL531 New Testament Theology: Issues and Themes
with Dr. Christopher Beetham

Have you ever wondered about the various theological themes in the New Testament?  How do they relate with each other and connect to the Old Testament? New Testament theology is the study of what God has revealed about Himself in the New Testament. Come to this class and explore the various truths and themes that the New Testament books teach us about God. Learn how the Christian Scriptures are an epic story that runs from Creation to New Creation.

$300 to audit, or take for 3 credit hours at $1,374

Contact Kyle Wigboldy to register at 616-392-8555, x120 or registrar@westernsem.edu

DEADLINE:  AUGUST 15, 2018

During the construction phase of “Our New Day” for Western Theological Seminary, a large portion of the campus will be inaccessible. The diagram below shows which areas are under construction. The available walkways are in yellow and may change during the 2017-18 school year.

Deliveries should be made to the receptionist at the front desk, which is in the DeWitt Theological Center. You can go through entrance 2 or the front entrance near the construction area (open as of March). Cherri or Gretchen at the front desk can be reached at 392-8555.

PARKING: There is a small amount of parking by Friendship House. Guest parking is available in the student lot on the south side of 13th St. Street parking is also allowed (check for signs).

Looking for a particular department?

Academic Offices (dean, registrar) – DeWitt Center, 2nd floor
Admissions – DeWitt Center, Atrium level
Advancement – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 5th floor
Bookstore – No longer in business
Business Offices – DeWitt Center, Atrium level
Communications – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 5th floor
Cont. Ed. (Journey and Ridder – no longer available)
Educational Technology – DeWitt Center, atrium level
Faculty offices – DeWitt Center, 2nd floor
Formation for Ministry – DeWitt Center, garden level
Human Resources – DeWitt Center, garden level
Hispanic Ministries – DeWitt Center, garden level
International Students Office – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 4th floor
President & V.P. offices – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, mezzanine level
Writing Studio – Cook Center/Beardslee Library, 4th floor

Big changes are coming to the library!

We are currently in the process of migrating to a new library system and preparing to move into our new building. To help us transition smoothly, the library will be closed to the public from now until the Grand Opening of our new building in October. We will also be getting a new name at that time:  Cook Library.

If you have a WTS login, you may still access our online resources here.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and we appreciate your patience. If you have any questions about library services during this transition, please contact allison@westernsem.edu

After 19 years on the faculty of Western Theological Seminary, Professor of New Testament Robert Van Voorst is retiring on June 30, the end of this academic year.

Dr. Van Voorst has had a unique impact as a professor, because in addition to teaching an average of 50-75 students at Western each year, he teaches thousands of other students in the U.S. and Canada in more than 200 colleges, universities and seminaries through his seven textbooks in New Testament, the history of Christianity, Greek language, and world religions.

“To research an academic field and contribute to it in a creative way—that’s an important thing for seminary professors, for their students, and for the church,” Dr. Van Voorst says.  “And it’s a lot of work!” Much of his writing has been done in the summers, on days he didn’t teach, and on sabbaticals.

When contrasting teaching with writing, he notes that there is an emotional high to walk out of a class with lots of interaction and think, “That session clicked with the students!” Writing, on the other hand, is a rather lonely thing. “You write by yourself, send it off for anonymous peer review, and after it gets published, sometimes you know who uses it, but often you don’t.“ A happy point of feedback is when new seminary students who used one of his books in college tell him about their experience, usually beginning with, “Are you the Van Voorst who wrote that book?” His books are regularly used at Northwestern, Central, and Calvin Colleges, important “feeder schools” for WTS.  

Bob has also written books for use by pastors and lay people and two research monographs for scholars of the New Testament and ancient church history. His most recent book is Commonly Misunderstood Verses of the Bible: What They Really Mean.

Bob felt a calling to the ministry at a young age, so his high school and college studies were aimed in that direction. He majored in religion at Hope College, and in his M.Div. studies at Western he specialized in New Testament. Before his teaching career, he was an RCA pastor for 12 years in New York, and for eight of those years he studied for a Ph.D. in New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He thoroughly enjoyed pastoral life, and the experience later helped him prepare students for ministry in a realistic way.

After his pastoral experience, he taught for 10 years at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA where he helped to educate many United Methodist pre-ministerial students. At Lycoming he began to research and publish in the field of world religions because he was assigned to teach it regularly. He also served as a supply pastor in several PC(USA) churches. The passion driving his work all these years has been for ministers to know the Bible well and use it responsibly in ministry.

In his retirement, Bob hopes to do more pastoral work in churches, to keep revising his textbooks (most of which are on a 2-5 year revision cycle) and write new books that could be helpful to the church. His immediate task is serving as the guest editor of a special issue of the international journal Religions on the topic of current methods in New Testament study.

He expects to keep in contact with many of his former WTS students. Most importantly, he and his wife, Mary, hope to spend much more time with their children and grandchildren.

 

At a Glance…

Robert E. Van Voorst

Professor, Writer

Holland, MI, 1952

A.B. Hope College, ’74; M.Div. WTS, ’77; STM, UnionTS, ‘79;

Ph.D. UnionTS, ’88

Married Mary Bos in Lucas, MI, 1974

Children:  Richard (Bonnie) and Nicholas (Jessica), 4 grandkids

 

(1977-89) Pastor, Rochester Reformed Church, Accord, NY

(1989-99) Professor of Religion, Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA

(1997) Visiting Professor, Oxford University

(1999-2018) Professor of New Testament, Western Theological Seminary

(2014) Distinguished Overseas Visiting Scholar, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

 

Books:

The Ascents of James: History and Theology of a Jewish-Christian Community (1989)

Building Your New Testament Greek Vocabulary (1990, 1999, 2001)

Anthology of World Scriptures (1993-2016, 9 editions)

The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity (1995)

Readings in Christianity (1996, 2000, 2013)

Anthology of Asian Scriptures (1999)

Jesus Outside the New Testament (2000, Italian ed. 2004)

Reading the New Testament Today (2004, Chinese ed. 2011)

Anthology of World Scriptures: Eastern Religions (2006)

Anthology of World Scriptures: Western Religions (2006)

The Pastor’s Bible Study (2006)

RELG: World (2012-19, 4 editions)

Commonly Misunderstood Verses of the Bible: What They Really Mean (2017)

 

In their words…

Your New Testament Foundations course has provided many hours of joy and reflection as so many of my theological questions have been answered in clear and insightful ways.

—Patricia Irwin, DL M.Div. student

 

Congratulations, Bob. You are a blessing to me and to so many others. Thank you for your teaching, your writing, your leadership, and your humor. Praising God from whom all blessings flow!

—Jeffrey Allen ‘05

 

Thank you for your many years of devoted work to our school. I especially appreciate the way you continue to prod us all toward high academic standards and taking our roles as faculty members seriously. I will miss your expertise on the many subjects you know so well.

—Dr. David Stubbs

 

“It’s all Greek to me” has never been more understood or chuckled over since my class with you.

—Jessica Oosterhouse ‘10

 

I have deeply appreciated your availability to me as a senior colleague. Thank you for your commitment to academic excellence and your concern to uphold the theological integrity of WTS in the course of key faculty decisions.

—Dr. J. Todd Billings

 

I loved my World Religion course. We students were so involved individually and together in the classroom with you. Thank you for your excellent teaching.

—Lorene Duin ’10, ‘13

 

I have appreciated working with you in the Master of Theology program. Your ongoing interest and your work teaching and advising the students has been a gift.

—Katy Sundararajan ‘03

 

Congratulations! WTS is going to have a tough time replacing you. Thanks for all you have done to encourage and support many students throughout the years.

—Diane Schrotenboer ‘10