Cohorts Expand Western’s Reach

The word cohort can mean both a group of people banded together or each individual in that group. What could be better than having supportive companions cheering you on in an educational journey you are taking together?

As Western Theological Seminary seeks ways to reach more men and women with quality theological education, we are implementing cohort models of learning in the Doctor of Ministry and Hispanic Ministry Programs.

These programs are the result of work initiated by Academic Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs Alvin Padilla. Dr. Padilla is using the cohort approach to reach students who want theological training but haven’t had access to it in the past. This is also the first time WTS is educating students who speak little or no English.


Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)

This year, Dr. Padilla and his long-time friend, Dr. Mário da Silva, made a 5-year dream come true. WTS has partnered with Dr. da Silva’s school, Filadelfia University (or UniFil) in Londrina, Brazil, to provide a Doctor of Ministry program for a group of 19 students.

Dr. da Silva and Dr. Padilla were colleagues at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and had been working for years on a way to get doctoral level theological education to Brazil. When Dr. Padilla moved to Western, the plans finally took shape.

Dr. Mário da Silva with theology professor Suzanne McDonald during his January visit to WTS

“We have a partnership in the real sense of the word,” says Dr. da Silva. “I’m very happy to find this atmosphere of openness at Western.”

The UniFil group uses a new model of cohort-based learning for their D.Min. program. The 3-year cohort is organized around a single theme and facilitated by Dr. da Silva. Plans are being made for WTS faculty members to teach this cohort in future sessions.

Students identify a barrier in their ministry and read broadly in the area of the theme of their cohort. The UniFil cohort is studying spiritual formation and church planting. Students will research their particular barrier using the facilities at Filadelfia University and address the barrier within the context of spiritual formation and church planting.

The cohort is made up of key leaders in the country of Brazil, most of them pastors of churches with 1,000+ members. One student leads a church of 30,000.

Among the group there are professors at the university, scholars with Ph.D.s, and even a student who is the General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Angola (an African nation that is a former Portuguese colony, like Brazil). Some students are Reformed, others are Pentecostal, and some are non-denominational.

As cohort members discuss the barriers within their own ministries, they learn from each other and serve as “research assistants” when they come across something helpful for a fellow student. The model works well cross-culturally where a strong group dynamic is valued, as in Brazil.

D.Min. Director Mark Poppen breaks bread with Enio Pinto translating (at right).

When Doctor of Ministry Director Mark Poppen visited the cohort in Brazil last November, he was greeted by a familiar face—Master of Theology graduate Enio Pinto ‘04. Enio acted as Mark’s translator for the week and shared with the group what it was like to be a student at WTS.

Despite these students not being geographically linked to WTS, they feel a strong bond and pride in being part of the Western community.

In 2019 the UniFil cohort will travel to Holland for an on-campus intensive at WTS.


Graduate Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry (GCUPM)

The Graduate Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry launched three cohorts this year under the leadership of Hispanic Ministries Program Director Joseph Ocasio. The program now has its highest enrollment—71 students.

The first cohort began in Delaware in June of 2017 and is made up of students from the Church of God in Prophecy. The second cohort launched last fall in Southern California and consists of RCA students. The third cohort, which met in Holland, MI for the first time in January, is comprised of students from five local churches, representing RCA, Church of God, and Wesleyan denominations.

The GCUPM cohort in Delaware with Director Joseph Ocasio (on left)

What these groups have in common is a desire for bilingual theological education. Some students are English-dominant and others are Spanish-dominant, so courses are designed in both languages. The students may choose to read and submit assignments in Spanish or English.

“As part of the courses, I’d like them to work on their non-dominant language,” says Ocasio. “Hispanic pastors need to be proficient in both languages. That is our goal.”

Students participate in a distance-learning format, meeting face-to-face a few times a year. They take one class per semester, three semesters per year. The program consists of seven general courses and one elective reflecting the interests of the cohort.

“The benefit of a cohort is that each group starts and finishes together,” Ocasio explains. “It creates community and builds relationships. That in turn helps improve peer learning, and that support structure will help them persist.”

Some students are challenged by the technology and distance learning format, and it is not easy for them to find time to learn in the midst of busy schedules. However, the Delaware cohort has been through two classes already, and students are helping and encouraging each other to continue.

“I am hearing incredible stories of how these classes are impacting their ministries and theological understanding,” Ocasio shares. “These students have been growing, and they’re very thankful.”

Many students who are Spanish-dominant have had limited opportunities to study theology in the past. One such student in the Holland cohort shared this:

My family and I arrived in Holland seven months ago at The House of My Father church, led by Pastor José Durán and Pastor Gonzalo Venegas. The first weeks [in Holland], my husband and I drove by Western Theological Seminary and I said out loud: “Lord, let us study there, I would like to study there.” To which my husband corresponded with “Yes, Lord.”

In my heart I knew I would continue my studies here in the United States, but I confess that I never thought it would be so soon. My first goal was and is to master the language, and only then, I thought it would be possible to opt for these studies. So, you can imagine my surprise and excitement when one morning my husband gave me the news that he had made the request to study at Western and we were accepted. This experience is an opportunity from God for my life.

The faculty and staff of Western Theological Seminary are pleased with the progress of our new cohort-based education model. We are honored to provide these opportunities for men and women who otherwise would not have had access to quality theological education. We look forward to continued growth as students encourage each other onward as cohorts in learning.

John Bell at Doxophilia 2018

April 16-20

Western Theological Seminary welcomes John Bell to lead this year’s “Doxophilia” – a week-long exploration of worship and worship renewal.

John will be leading chapel for the seminary community each day from 9:40-10:00. The public is welcome to join us in Mulder Chapel.

On Tuesday evening at 7 PM, also in Mulder Chapel, the public is invited to a participate in a “Big Sing” led by John Bell entitled “Musical Medicine.” A Big Sing is a unique celebration of congregational song. No talent is required, though throughout the experience John will empower participants to sing in harmony, including singing many previously unknown songs from around the world.

John Bell is a noted preacher, hymnwriter, composer, and worship enlivener. He is an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland, a member of the Iona Community, and one of the founders of Wild Goose Resource Group.

Questions? Contact Dr. Ron Rienstra.

May 7, 2018 Commencement and Alumni Day

Monday, May 7 Schedule:

8:45am – Opening Worship and Senior Blessing for DL and DMin students, friends and family (Mulder Chapel)

11:45am – Registration & Reunion lunches for the Class of 1958, 1968 and the Class of 1978 (6th floor, Beardslee Library)

1:30pm – Alumni Forum Lecture:  Commencement Speaker Professor John Swinton, “What does it mean to know Jesus when you don’t know who Jesus is? Intellectual disability, brain damage and the nature of love.”

2:45pm – Class of 2018 group photo (steps of Mulder Chapel, outside)

3:15pm – Commencement Rehearsal (Dimnent Chapel of Hope College)

5:00pm – Alumni/ae Dinner (The Commons) with celebration of Distinguished Alum David Bast ’76. Contact Tamara for reservations at 616-392-8555, x109. $20/person

7:30pm – 142nd Commencement (Dimnent Chapel of Hope College) with Commencement Speaker Professor John Swinton, “Remembering Vocation: Living Life as Worship.” Doors open at 6:45. No tickets necessary.

Commencement is followed by a receiving line on the lawn of Dimnent Chapel, and there is a reception in the seminary atrium.

Ruth Estell- Healed and Healing

Senior M.Div. student Ruth Estell may be what’s called an “old soul,” but don’t be fooled by her mild manner.

Born to RCA missionary parents and raised in Taiwan, Ruth came to the States to earn her undergrad and graduate degrees from Wheaton College, and then returned to China to teach English.

Ruth with children from the group home in Taiwan

After ten years, she heard about an opportunity to work and live in a home for children and adults with disabilities in Taiwan. She jumped at the chance to do more ministry and Bible teaching.

In Taiwan, Ruth volunteered to teach an English Bible study in a men’s maximum security prison—with no guards in the room.

“At first I wasn’t so sure,” she admits, “but I ended up loving it. The men were very respectful and appreciated that I was willing to come there.”

She saw God at work, even witnessing some men get baptized and grow in their faith.

Ruth planned to take over for the director of the group home in Taiwan, but after a year and a half, the woman grew inexplicably hostile toward her.

Ruth started to believe the negative things her teammate was saying about her, and for the first time in her life, she doubted if God really loved her. She found herself in a downward spiral emotionally, spiritually, and physically. After praying about what to do, she knew she had to leave the mission field.

She returned to the U.S. to live with her mother, who had retired to Zeeland, MI. Their family had spent many summers on furlough in the RCA mission houses in Holland, so Ruth knew a lot of people in the West Michigan area.

“When I came back, I thought I was done serving God forever,” Ruth admits.“I would have been content to do whatever just to pay the bills.”

However, many people who knew her story were praying for her, and many reached out with love and support. Some shared their own stories of being hurt by brothers and sisters in the church.

A lot of healing took place, and Ruth realized that she still had a deep desire to serve God in her work. As she began to feel a call to chaplaincy, she knew she would need a Master of Divinity, and that led her to Western Theological Seminary.

Two and a half years later, Ruth is on track to graduate this May. She hopes to work as a chaplain in a retirement home or hospital.

“I am a third culture kid,” she says, “and Chinese culture respects the elderly, so perhaps that infiltrated my heart. I love the elderly.”

Two of Ruth’s internships have been at retirement homes, but she also completed a year of church ministry and one summer term of Clinical Pastoral Education at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, where she worked with children and adolescents and at a women’s addiction recovery residential house.

“My abilities and confidence have grown,” she shares. “Children and adolescents are very honest. I have dealt with a lot of anger but also some very honest questions. You don’t always have the answers, but you can be there and listen to them.”

This year, Ruth is interning at Holland Hospital, where God is growing a love for the stranger in her. Many times she can only have one or two conversations with patients before they leave the hospital.

Harp class, led by Dr. Carol Bechtel

Ruth is part of a group of musicians that WTS professor Dr. Carol Bechtel is teaching to play the harp. At the hospital, Ruth plays the harp therapeutically—a ministry that can touch some patients and families in a special way.

“One lady I visited was very formal when I went in as the chaplain. I could tell she highly respected the clergy,” recalls Ruth. “She thanked me for coming and asked me to pray but didn’t have much to say. Later I came in just to play the harp, and soon she started sharing about her diagnosis, how she was feeling, her family… More pastoral care was done when I wasn’t there as the ‘official’ chaplain.”

Other times, patients are unresponsive or restless, and the harp music puts a calm over the room and the family. Sometimes the music frees people to have a good cry.

“I can’t answer ‘Why would God let this happen?’ or ‘Why don’t I feel God’s presence?” but I can acknowledge feelings and encourage people to reach out to God,” Ruth says. “Sometimes I run out of words, and then the music lets them rest in that.”

If people come from a Christian background, hymns remind them of times God spoke into their lives. Recently a dying patient began singing along to the hymns Ruth was playing on her harp, creating a beautiful moment that touched the family deeply. Later they asked her to play at his funeral.

Being able to play the harp for people is a “tool in my tool box,” Ruth says. “It’s just another way to care for people.”

Ruth is also grateful for Dr. Suzanne McDonald’s classes on “Aging and Dementia” and eschatology. These classes have helped her to establish a theological foundation and to understand how to care for people at the end of life.

“What I like about Western is that it’s not all about heady, intellectual knowledge,” she shares. “The professors realize they’re preparing us for serving actual people. It has kept me humble.”

Thinking ahead to graduation, Ruth says, “I think chaplaincy will be a good fit for the passions and gifts God has given me. Retirement home, hospital, hospice…I’m open to wherever God might lead.”

Millennials in Ministry

North Holland Reformed Church ministry team

L to R: Associate Pastor Audrey Edewaard,Lead Pastor Steven DeVries. Worship Director Jed Grooters, WTS intern Nathan Longfield


“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young,” Paul writes in 1 Timothy. Thankfully, for the ministry team at North Holland Reformed Church, their youth is counted as a strength, not a weakness.

North Holland is one of the oldest churches in the West Michigan area, planted in 1852 by Dutch homesteaders. However, its pastoral staff is one of the youngest, consisting of three recent WTS graduates all under the age of 30.

North Holland has a long history of hiring first-call pastors, with one-third of their lead pastors coming fresh out of seminary. Their first pastor was Rev. E. C. Oggel, a student from New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

Steven DeVries ‘14 completed his seminary internship with North Holland right around the time their pastor was preparing to accept another call. Part of what Steven liked about the church was their desire to raise up young men and women to be leaders in ministry.

As an intern he was never dismissed from consistory meetings so they could talk about “the real stuff.” The entire life of the church was very accessible to him.

Now in his fourth year as lead pastor, Steven and his team are thriving with a congregation that is heavily invested, flexible, and willing to grow.

When Jed Grooters ‘17 was hired as the worship director in 2015, he wanted to introduce more contemporary worship to transition to a “blended” style. For most of its existence, the church had sung hymns with an organ or piano exclusively. The long history of the church combined with his youth compelled him to be humble and do a lot of listening.

“This isn’t about my opportunity to express myself as a worship leader,” he explains. “This is a space we create together—all of us—to meet with God.”

Jed helped the congregation find their musical “voice” in worship and was encouraged by their positivity throughout the process.

“I’ve taken plenty of risks, pushing them in a new direction, and they’ve taken it all in stride,” he says.

Associate Pastor Audrey Edewaard ‘16 says that the people at North Holland are always willing to try something at least once.

“We have a congregation that is very willing to extend trust,” she explains, “and that means a lot, because we’re young ministers. So, we kind of know what we’re doing, and we also kind of have no idea.”

North Holland uses a ministry team model in which congregants come together to make decisions alongside the pastors. This allows the congregation to take ownership in children’s ministry, adult discipleship, etc., and it also takes pressure off the staff.

The church has families that have attended for six generations as well as families who have recently moved into the area. Both groups are represented on consistory and ministry teams, so there is no sense of an “old guard.”

The church had deep “blue-collar roots” for generations, but now there is more socioeconomic diversity.

“One year on the executive team there was a truck driver and plumber alongside a lawyer and college professor,” Pastor Steven says. “Church members love to help each other out and if you need something done, there’s probably someone who does it here.”

The oldest member of the church is 98, but there are also a lot of young families.

Steven calls the older congregants the “senior saints,” and he loves visiting and connecting with them.

“We have a lot of older people who break stereotypes,” he laughs.“I wear blue jeans all week and visit people in their 80’s and 90’s, yet I’ve never heard a comment about how I’m dressed. They care more about presence than presentation.”

When he was hired, it meant a lot to him that many older congregants voiced their strong support and trust in his leadership. “They didn’t just dismiss me as a kid pastor.”

“I’ve noticed a generosity toward us in our age,” agrees Nathan Longfield, WTS intern for North Holland. He sees the congregation willing to guide, “but not in a demeaning way.”

“In a lot of places, people say ‘Our church is dying, we can’t keep the young people,’” notes Pastor Steven, “but I think that’s because they don’t trust young people as competent leaders.” At North Holland, he has never been second-guessed or diminished because of his age.

Pastor Audrey agrees. During her first month, she visited a congregant who had open heart surgery. To this day when he introduces her, he says, ‘This is my pastor, Audrey, and she was there when I had open heart surgery.” That affirmation is very encouraging to her.


Going to seminary together has its benefits for the North Holland team. Steven graduated a few years ahead of Audrey and Jed, but they had many shared classes and experiences.

Audrey says there is less anxiety around having difficult conversations and thinking critically, because they have a shared foundation and language.

Nathan feels that the staff understands the pressures of seminary, since it wasn’t too long ago they were in his shoes. “There’s a sense of growing together,” he says. “Learning as the intern feels less one-directional. They’re teaching me things, but we’re also working as a team.”

“From the beginning, working with Steven has been phenomenal,” says Jed. “His natural and disciplined pastoral gifts are incredible, especially for a person with his years of experience. He’s a genuine and caring person who is also remarkably stable.”

“Audrey is a blast,” he adds. “Her energy, talent, sincerity and humility are all so rare, and I can’t speak highly enough of her as a ministry partner.”

Capital Campaign Brings Changes

In 2016, North Holland launched a capital campaign to raise 2.5 million dollars for an extension and remodel of their building. “Reach Out” is the result of a longtime dream for a fellowship hall and gym and to make their building ADA accessible. The church wants to have space to better serve their community and have meals and events together.

For a church of 300 people, 2.5 million was a big goal, but they had a 95% YES vote on the project.

Pastor Steven had never done any fundraising before, but during the campaign, the seminary sent him to the Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF) training through the generosity of a Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant.

“As a young leader still unsure about a lot of things, ECRF built my confidence up,” he shares.

Near the beginning of the campaign, he had a meeting scheduled with a couple whose support he knew the project would need in order to succeed. The day of the meeting, Steven was visiting another congregant at Holland Hospital when his car battery died.

When he called the potential donors to explain what was happening, they drove from the north side of Holland to pick him up for the meeting. After they discussed the project, the couple declared, “We should go jump your car!” and even helped him file down the battery terminals to get his car started.

“Of all the fear around making a presentation, at the end of the day you’re asking people to support something they love,” Steven realized. The couple’s generous spirit impacted him greatly.

Pastor Audrey hopes the project will help them reach out to their immediate community, specifically to the elementary school across the street.

Jed says that the building project is a testament to the kind of people who make up North Holland. He likes to think of their 165-year-old church as a new church plant trying to reach their community in different ways.

“This congregation is generous,” he says, “These people have lots of history and patterns, but they’re adaptable and willing to take risks. They will take their money and time and invest it. They’re willing to take young people like us and give us opportunities before we’re ‘polished.’ It’s rare; you don’t just find this anywhere.”

The Sunday service time at North Holland is 9:30 a.m. The church is located at 12050 New Holland Street, Holland, MI.


How do I find my way around during construction?

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

A Message from President Timothy Brown

In February, I informed the Board of Trustees that after much prayer and deliberation, Nancy and I have decided that my time as president is coming to an end. This coming school year of 2018-19 will be my last year as president.

There are many things that I want to get done. This won’t be a victory lap! This will be a very intentionally focused period.

First, I want to bring to completion our new building, fully funding the project. When we asked the Board for permission to start this project, I said to them, “I promise I will stay as president until that building is up, the flags are flying, and every debt is paid.” I’m happy to say we are really close.

I want to continue to support the work of Dean Alvin Padilla and the rest of the faculty as they make enormous strides in our Hispanic Ministries Program. Every population census you can possibly read will tell you that by 2050, the largest cross-section of our population will be Hispanic. It was such a gift to us when Alvin Padilla agreed to come and be our academic dean, and I’m so grateful for that.

I now have permission to say that Eddy Alemán has been nominated to be the new General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Eddy is Latino, a graduate of WTS, and also a member of our Board of Trustees. What great energy and synergy we have to do the work that is coming!

I also want to both bless and help the faculty as we move toward important hires over the next year. Several faculty members have left or will be leaving, and we need new people to join our team. I am eager to keep this stunning record of great young scholars who are Reformed, evangelical and ecumenical.

I will work very hard in the next year continuing to make this a place that helps men and women flourish in ministry. All the hard-fought efforts over the years that have opened the doors to women in ministry have recently met with resistance. We’re not going to allow that. We’re going to keep working hard until we enter in to that vision of the prophet Joel: On that day I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Last but not least, I want to ensure in the midst of our ever-expanding diversity that we have a clearly gracious, generously articulated Reformed Identity. I’m going to ask the Board of Trustees to call forth a task force to help us articulate what we mean when we say Reformed identity, so we can be expansive and welcoming but also clear about who we are and what we intend to do. This is no time to be ashamed of our Reformed identity, but to embrace it and move into the future.

I intend in the name of Jesus to give my best to all of these things, and I will, I promise you, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.

CANCELLED: Kate Bowler: Prosperity Gospel & the Church Today


Dear friends of WTS,

I’m writing to let you know about an unexpected change related to the visit of Dr. Kate Bowler, scheduled for April 16 at WTS. There is bad news and good news.

The bad news is this: much to her regret, Dr. Bowler has had to cancel all of the events on campus on April 16. She was looking forward to it, and I know she had already been working on preparing her plenary lecture for our event. Unfortunately, her chemo treatment has been catching up with her, dramatically draining her energy and making travel and speaking quite difficult. I can testify from personal experience that chemo fatigue is very real, and often quite unpredictable. So, at the end of last week, she and her team of supporters made the difficult decision that she needs to cancel half of her speaking engagements in this season, and schedule more time for rest in the places where she does speak. Her agent called me this week to let me know, along with his regrets. Please join me in praying for Dr. Bowler as she continues the difficult path of receiving chemotherapy, receiving cancer tests every two months, and seeking to steward her energy for her family and her broader calling.

However, there is some good news as well. Her agent put me in touch with the Director of the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College, who readily offered a special opportunity for not only students, but for friends of WTS like yourself. This opportunity is to hear Dr. Bowler give her plenary address at Calvin College on Friday, April 13, at 3:30pm. This event is not open to the public, and normally only those registered (at the price of $225) can attend. They are making an exception for us, and they have given us a limited number of tickets that we can buy for this event only. I’ve decided to cover that ticket fee through the Girod Chair fund for friends of WTS who want to attend – as long as the tickets last.

So what do you do if you want to hear Dr. Bowler? Please fill out THIS ONLINE FORM. For those who are interested, we will provide rides from the seminary to Calvin for the 3:30pm lecture at Calvin. You will need to sign up by no later than Wednesday, April 11. Again, attending the lecture is free, but you are required to sign up (whether or not you want a ride) so that we can pay the Festival for each person attending. There is a limited number of tickets, so it would be wise to sign up soon. Thank you for weighing through this long email, and for your patience with the changes. And please join me in prayer for Dr. Bowler.

grace & peace in Christ,

Dr. Billings


DR. KATE BOWLER- April 16, 2018


3:00 p.m.
Discussion with Dr. Dennis Voskuil on “The Prosperity Gospel in the American Church Today” in Mulder Chapel

7:00 p.m.
Plenary address, “The Prosperity Gospel and the Dying” in Dimnent Chapel at Hope College

Dr. Kate Bowler is the Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity School and author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel.

In 2015, she was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at age 35. The next year, she wrote a New York Times article that went viral, “Death, the Prosperity Gospel, and Me,” and in this month she released a memoir with Random House: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. While Dr. Bowler does not embrace the prosperity gospel, she describes it fairly and with insight. She embraces the Christian faith, bearing witness to Jesus Christ in this midst of this season.

Listen to the recent NPR podcast with Dr. Bowler, “A Stage-4 Cancer Patient Shares The Pain And Clarity Of Living ‘Scan-To-Scan'”.

The Osterhaven Lecture Series on Theology

Video from the Lectures:


March 12-13, 2018

Monday, March 12
3:00 – 4:15 p.m.
Mulder Chapel at Western Theological Seminary

“What Counts as a Biblical Doctrine? Exploring the Biblically Warranted Modes of Biblical Interpretation.”
Matthew Levering
Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary
University of St. Mary of the Lake


Monday, March 12, 2018
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Mulder Chapel at Western Theological Seminary

“Mere Protestant Christianity: Sola Scriptura and the Comic Possibility of Reformation”
Kevin VanHoozer
Research Professor of Systematic Theology
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


Tuesday, March 13, 2018
3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Mulder Chapel at Western Theological Seminary

Panel discussion
Matthew Levering, Kevin VanHoozer, Jared Ortiz, and Sue Rozeboom


Matthew Levering
James N. and Mary D. Perry, Jr. Chair of Theology
Mundelein Seminary
University of St. Mary of the Lake

Matthew Levering is widely recognized as one of the leading Roman Catholic doctrinal theologians today. He is the author or co-author of over 20 books, including Scripture and Metaphysics, Biblical Natural Law, Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation, Proofs of God, and most recently, Was the Reformation a Mistake?  He serves as coeditor of the journals Nova et Vetera and the International Journal of Systematic Theology and has served as Chair of the Board of the Academy of Catholic Theology since 2007.


Kevin VanHoozer
Research Professor of Systematic Theology
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Kevin VanHoozer is one of the most prominent Protestant systematic theologians writing today. Much of his work focuses upon the intersection of Christian doctrine with hermeneutics. He has written or co-written ten books, two of which won Christianity Today book awards in theology. His book, Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible earned Christianity Today’s award for best biblical studies book in 2006. He also serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Systematic Theology and the Journal of Theological Interpretation.


Jared Ortiz
Assistant Professor of Religion
Hope College

Jared Ortiz teaches Catholic studies at Hope College, where he founded and directs the Saint Benedict Institute, the Catholic spiritual and intellectual center that serves Hope College. He teaches courses on the Incarnation, church history, Catholic Christianity, theological hermeneutics and early Christianity. He specializes in early Christian theology, especially St. Augustine, and he has scholarly interests in liturgy, Latin patristic thought and disability.


Sue Rozeboom
Associate Professor of Liturgical Theology
Western Theological Seminary

Sue Rozeboom teaches students how to unwrap God’s gracious gift of worship.  Her reading, research, and teaching interests are in the areas of the history of Christian worship, the work of the Spirit and Christian worship, and enriched sacramental theology for refreshed sacramental practice. She is the co-author, with Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., of Discerning the Spirits: A Guide to Thinking about Christian Worship Today. She been active in official Roman Catholic – Reformed dialogues for many years.


Listening to the Soft-Spoken Amongst Us

“A Necessary Step Toward Reforming Disability Theology: Listening to the Soft-Spoken Amongst Us”

When: Wednesday, March 14, 2:00-3:00 pm

Where: Mulder Chapel at WTS

Join Western Theological Seminary as we continue the conversation about disability and ministry. In November, Lennard Davis helped us to think through how disability is an aspect of diversity while at the same time questioning the usefulness of the concept of diversity. This month, L.S. Carlos Thompson, Ph.D. candidate University of Aberdeen, King’s College and finalist for the Nouwen Fellow position at WTS, will be joining us to help us consider what is missing from our theology and praxis when we view physical impairment as primarily a social or civil rather than a theological concern. He asks; What is gained by allowing the lived experience of physical disability to be at home within theology.  ASL services and hearing loop technology will be available.

With the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, WTS has established a Nouwen Fellow program that brings scholars whose research focuses on some aspect of disability studies to join our faculty for a one or two year appointment.