Western Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that Dr. Alberto La Rosa Rojas will be joining the faculty of Western Theological Seminary beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year to serve as Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. La Rosa Rojas back to the WTS community,” said Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs Kristen Deede Johnson. “His addition to our faculty marks an important milestone; as our third fully bilingual professor, it is now possible for us to provide rigorous academic degree programs in both English and Spanish.  Further, as one who draws constructively on both Reformed voices and the voices of Christians in the majority world, Dr. La Rosa Rojas has invaluable contributions to make in the classroom,  in the world of scholarship, and in the wider church.”

Dr. La Rosa Rojas’s scholarship lies at the intersection of systematic theology and ethics, focusing on theologies of migration and home.  He is currently a postdoctoral associate and an advisor to the Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School. He has also been involved in the divinity school’s Hispanic House of Studies and Hispanic Latino Preaching Initiative.

Dr. La Rosa Rojas received his Th.D. in Theology and Ethics from Duke Divinity School (2022) with a dissertation titled, “God’s Journey Home: Toward a Theology of Migration and Home from the Americas.”  He’s a graduate of Western Theological Seminary and Trinity Christian College.  He has received fellowships from the Hispanic Theological Initiative, the Golieb Fellowship in Interfaith Education and Engagement, and the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

Alberto has written a number of book reviews and book chapters, including “A Migrant at the Lord’s Table: A Reformed Theology of Home,” included in Reformed Public Theology: A Global Vision for Life in the World, and “The God Who Elects Leaving,” in Before the Face of God: Essays in Honor of Tom Boogaart. He has been involved in and presented at the Society of Christian Ethics, the American Academy of Religion, and the Annual Karl Barth Conference at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Dr. La Rosa Rojas has taught courses in the United States, El Salvador, and Peru in Christian ethics, theology in the early Church, Karl Barth and Reformed theology, and theology of the sacraments.

He has been involved in a local Presbyterian church throughout his years in Durham while retaining his membership in the Reformed Church in America (RCA).  He is also a licensed candidate for ordination in the RCA.

Western Theological Seminary is pleased to announce four new Master of Arts degrees designed to prepare women and men for practical ministry.

“We recognize that theological education is changing rapidly,” said President Felix Theonugraha. “Western Theological Seminary is committed to meeting the needs of the Church now and in the future.  We are here to equip women and men for Christian ministry and leadership, whether their call is to pastoral ministry or lay leadership.”

The new degrees include a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, a Master of Arts in Disability and Ministry, a Master of Arts in Theology, and a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies.

WTS will continue to offer its flexible MA in Christian Studies, which allows students to focus on their area of interest as half of the 42 program credits are electives. 

One of the hallmarks of the WTS Master of Arts is faculty involvement. WTS Faculty teach in both the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts programs, and all courses come from within the Master of Divinity curriculum. Faculty are equally engaged in distance learning and in-residence courses, often teaching the course in both modalities during any given semester.  

“Through these new MA degrees, students will experience rigorous academic engagement alongside practical and intentional formation,” said Academic Dean Kristen Deede Johnson. “I am excited for how our new MAs embody the same commitment to whole-person formation [or formational learning] and academic excellence that is a hallmark of all WTS programs.”

WTS faculty are committed to providing students with course content that will expand the breadth and depth of a student’s biblical and theological knowledge while enhancing the ability to analyze specific academic and ministerial questions as they utilize their learnings in each program. 

Master of Arts students will learn to demonstrate proficiency in the art of scholarly writing by constructing credible claims, developing compelling arguments, persuasively interpreting sources in their chosen field of study, and using critical methodologies and diverse theological perspectives in their analysis of specific academic and ministerial questions applicable in many vocational settings.

The Master of Arts degree provides the same formational curriculum that engages whole-person learning. While internships and Abbey groups are not part of the required curriculum, Master of Arts students can take The Abbey if they are studying on campus or wish to come to campus during distance learning intensives.  

All Master of Arts degrees from WTS can be completed in two years or spread out to accommodate “second career” or non-traditional professional students. Classes can be taken on campus or through WTS’s online distance learning program. 

”This is an ideal program for people who need to be working full time and want to chip away at a Masters’s Degree that will enhance their professional vocation and work in ministry,” said Director of Admissions, Jill English.

The degrees will be available to students beginning this fall.  Applications are open.

Western Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the installation of Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson to the G.W. and Edna Haworth Chair of Educational Ministries and Leadership. The installation will be held on April 11, 2022, at 7 PM at Pillar Church in Holland and is open to the public.

The service will feature a lecture by Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson entitled “Cultivating Kingdom Imagination: A Vision of Discipleship and Institutional Engagement.” 

Following Dr. Johnson’s lecture, the following distinguished scholars will share their responses:

  • Dr. James Davison Hunter, LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture and Social Theory at the University of Virginia
  • Dr. John Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion and Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis 
  • Reverend Fleming Rutledge, an internationally known Episcopal priest and award-winning author. 

The G.W. and Edna Haworth Chair of Educational Ministries and Leadership was initially established in 1999 as the G.W. and Eddie Haworth Professor of Christian Education. Dr. George Brown held the chair from 1999 until his retirement. It is being re-established as a chair that will be held by the Dean and Vice-President of Academic Affairs of Western Theological Seminary.

While we regret that we are not able to Livestream the event, if you would like to receive a link to the video of the lecture in your mailbox, please sign up below. 

We are grateful to the Haworth family for their generosity to Western Theological Seminary through this re-established chair in support of the Dean. 

The distinguished guests James Davison Hunter, John Inazu, and Fleming Rutledge will also be participating in a panel discussion, “Rediscovering the Beauty of the Church: Hopeful Directions in a Tumultuous Age,” on Monday, April 11, from 3-4 PM in the chapel of Western Theological Seminary. The public is warmly invited to attend. 

Western Theological Seminary Welcomes Dr. Madison Pierce

New Faculty member will serve as an Associate Professor of New Testament

 

Holland, MI (March 2022) – Western Theological Seminary is thrilled to announce that Dr. Madison Pierce will be joining the seminary faculty beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year to serve as Associate Professor of New Testament. 

Dr. Pierce is a respected biblical scholar and teacher. Her areas of research include the book of Hebrews, the Catholic epistles, and the use of Scripture in Scripture.  

“I could not be more delighted that Dr. Pierce will be joining the Western Seminary community,” said Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Dr. Pierce is motivated by a deep love of God and Scripture and is an exceptionally gifted scholar and teacher. She’s also very committed to the life of the Church as well as engaging with important contemporary social realities. It will be a joy to welcome Dr. Pierce to Western, knowing that she will invest deeply in the lives of our students and in the mission of Western Theological Seminary.”

Dr. Pierce has been serving as an Assistant Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where she taught a range of courses including Introduction to New Testament, Greek Exegesis, Exegesis for Preaching, and courses on Johannine Literature, Paul, the General Epistles, and the use of Scripture in Scripture.  She received her Ph.D. from Durham University and her M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 

Dr. Pierce has four upcoming books and monographs reflecting these research interests, including a book on Christology in Hebrews, an exegetical commentary of Hebrews, a commentary on 1 Peter, and a co-authored book on the later New Testament.

Dr. Pierce’s previous publications include Divine Discourse in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and an array of essays in a peer-reviewed journal and edited volumes. She has also co-edited two volumes: Muted Voices of the New Testament (T&T Clark, 2017), with Katherine M. Hockey and Francis Watson, and Gospel Reading and Reception in Early Christian Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2022), with Andrew J. Byers and Simon Gathercole.   

Dr. Pierce is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature as well as the Institute for Biblical Research. She is the co-host of the Foreword Podcast. She is also actively involved in her local church, Church of the Redeemer in Highwood, Illinois, and preaches both there and elsewhere.

After over three and a half decades of faithful and distinguished years serving at Western Theological Seminary, Norm Donkersloot retired from his role as the Vice President of Finance on March 15, 2022.

Norm Donkersloot, reflecting on 35 years of service to WTS at the celebration of his retirement.

As the Vice President of Finance, Norm managed Western’s finances for 35 fiscal years, counseled four presidents, prepared 34 annual budgets, and trained countless board members. He stewarded the seminary’s budget, expenses, and investments while holding Western’s mission at heart to increase the seminary’s impact on the church and its leaders. Additionally, as a leadership team member, Norm’s careful guidance has helped to provide a strong foundation for achieving the seminary’s goals and strategic plans.
When reflecting on the start of his career at WTS, Norm envisioned staying at the seminary for five to seven years. But the mission of the seminary inspired him to stay for over three decades. Norm shares, “I believe in the church and found that Western fits my heart. I believe in our students. I love their optimism and idealism. I love when students bare their souls when they preach for the first time. It’s a privilege having students sit across my desk and present their housing needs in Holland while sharing memories of their hometowns.”

From left to right, Rayetta Perez, Norm Donkersloot, and Kerry Eshenaur.

Norm’s impact and contribution to the overall growth and health of the seminary are impossible to quantify. Rayetta Perez, Director of Administration and Human Resources, friend, and colleague of Norm’s for 21 years, shares that “WTS enrollment and programs have grown partly because of Norm’s dedicated management of financial resources. He has shepherded the growth of The Bridge, the seminary’s fair trade store, and supported the Community Kitchen, the on-campus hub for a local agency that serves meals to those in need.” 

In addition to this, he has played a lead role in overseeing several building renovations and expansion projects, such as the DeWitt family Red Bricks student housing, DeWitt Theological Center and Burggraaff Atrium, Mulder Chapel, The Ralph and Cheryl Schregardus Friendship House, and most recently, the Jack and Mary DeWitt Learning Center, Cook Library, and building expansion. “He loves to be part of the seminary’s growth, from digging and demolition to design and details,” adds Perez.

Andy Bast, Director of Development, adds, “There is not an inch of this Seminary that Norm has not touched and impacted.”

Dennis Voskuil, former president of WTS (1994-2008) and Professor Emeritus of Church History, shares, “Throughout my time working with Norm, I witnessed him become an increasingly central part of the community, and many students came to know him well. He was always willing to participate, and I couldn’t think of a better team player.”

WTS Professor Winn Collier prayed a blessing over Norm with his wife, Anna, at the celebration of Norm’s retirement.

“When I started at the seminary,” said Donkersloot, “it was essentially a residential school that served students from the Midwest who wanted to be preachers or church educators. [I’ve watched] the residential program grow and stabilize and witness distance-learning programs develop. This change has made it possible for the seminary to serve students from coast-to-coast, and as far away as Brazil.”

Upon retirement, Norm is looking forward to traveling with his wife to visit his daughters in New York and Utah. He also plans to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and get off his desk chair and onto a bike seat as much as possible. 

Jonathan Dockery succeeded Norm as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance. You can read more about him here.  

Western Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that Jonathan Dockery will succeed Norman Donkersloot as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance. After 35 years of faithful service to the seminary, Norman Donkersloot will be retiring from his role as Vice President of Finance at the end of March 2022.

“Jon is humble, kind, conscientious, and gets along well with his colleagues. He is well respected and principled”, says Dr. Felix Theonugraha, President of the seminary. He added, “We are excited for Jon to join our community. His experience, skillset, and character will serve as a significant addition to the seminary.”

Dockery has served in non-profit organizations for the past ten years, with the past seven years at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL, where he was eventually named the Chief Financial Officer. While at Trinity, Dockery played a critical role in Trinity’s re-accreditation process. He also served on the university’s Kingdom Diversity committee.

During his time at Trinity International University, Dockery developed and monitored a $35M budget, oversaw Trinity’s Facility Services team, Student Financial Services team, and Human Resources area, mirroring his areas of responsibility at Western Theological Seminary.

“I am looking forward to working under the leadership of President Theonugraha, getting involved in the Western community, and continuing the good work that is in process at Western,” says Dockery. 

Dockery is a graduate of Union University in Tennessee; and has a Master of Theological Studies from Beeson Divinity School and a Juris Doctor from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, where he was selected as a Wigmore Scholar. He is married to his wife Sarah, and they have two children, Hazel and Fisher.

Dockery will formally begin his service at Western Theological Seminary in February and will work with Donkersloot to ensure a smooth transition.

Dr. Tim Basselin joined the faculty of Western Theological Seminary this month to serve as the new Director of Field Education and Student Life and Associate Professor of Ministry, Theology, and Culture.  

Dr. Basselin comes to Western with eight years of field education experience, having created and supervised an internship program for the Media, Arts, and Worship Department of Dallas Theological Seminary. He also has a deep love for congregational ministry, serving on the preaching team at his current church (Catalyst Community Church in Rowlett, Texas) and as ministry coordinator at his previous church (Living Springs Community Church, an RCA church in Glenwood, Illinois). 

In his teaching and service, Tim has been committed to multiracial ministries and congregational involvement in local communities.

 “We are grateful that God has called Tim to enter into this important role within our seminary’s life together,” said Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Tim has gifts for helping students attend to God’s presence in their lives as well as discern God’s callings on their lives through intentional conversation.  He has significant experience working with students, local churches, and other ministries to bring imaginative internship possibilities to life.  Tim is also deeply attentive to the importance of cultivating a  community of belonging for all students in the seminary. He will be a great addition to the WTS community.”

 Dr. Basselin received degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, including a Ph.D. in Theology and Culture, before becoming an assistant professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary. His publications include Flannery O’Connor: Writing a Theology of Disabled Humanity (Baylor University Press). 

In his role as Director of Field Education and Student Life, Dr. Basselin will engage with churches, denominations, and parachurch ministries to develop field education opportunities for students and partnerships for WTS. He will also engage in vocational discernment with students; provide leadership to the Student Life Office, and assist the faculty, Student Life team, and broader seminary community as they contribute to students’ formation. 

 

Western Theological Seminary(WTS) is a Christian theological seminary affiliated with the Reformed Church in America. Located in Holland, Michigan, WTS offers 12 graduate programs online, in residence, in English, and Spanish, for women and men preparing for faithful Christian ministry. Home to the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination, WTS is committed to providing excellent theological education and forming students spiritually. WTS was founded in 1866 when seven of the eight members of Hope College’s inaugural graduating class wished to become ministers and petitioned the RCA to allow them to complete their education in Holland.

Western Theological Seminary welcomes Dr. Hyun-Gwang Kim as a visiting scholar for the 2021 – 2022 academic year. Dr. Kim is visiting from the Korean Bible University in Seoul, South Korea, where he has most recently held the title of Dean of Graduate school. In addition to this role, he has also served as an associate professor of New Testament and Biblical Greek at Korean Bible University for thirteen years. 

Dr. Kim attended WTS from 2002-2003 as a Th.M. student. Dr. Kim holds a Ph.D. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, and is a Presbyterian pastor. He has recently been nominated by the Korean New Testament scholars and professors as a vice-president of the Korean Evangelical Society of New Testament Studies. This society consists of New Testament professors and scholars in Korea and is known as one of Korea’s most active and influential societies. 

“I am happy to have this opportunity to serve society and be recognized as a leading professor and scholar in my area,” shares Dr. Kim. He has translated several books into Korean, including 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (Kregel Academic, 2021), Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology (Baker Academic, 2010), Romans (Mark Seifrid) from Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Baker Academic, 2007), and participated in translating NIV Study Bible (Zondervan, 2011). 

During his time at WTS, Dr. Kim intends to work on several projects surrounding Paul’s theology of law, Gentiles, the Holy Spirit and the wrath of God, and the Second Temple Jewish literature. Shortly after arriving at WTS in October of 2021, he finished writing a book entitled Ten Questions About Roman, to be published in Seoul, South Korea, this summer. Additionally, he recently wrote an article regarding Peter’s Pentecostal sermon in Acts regarding Christocentric characteristics. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Kim to the Western learning community,” shares Felix Theonugraha, President of WTS. “Dr. Kim is a leading New Testament scholar and a transformational seminary professor and administrator. Dr. Kim reminds us that the Church is alive and well, and we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters around the world. We are so incredibly honored that Dr. Kim has chosen to spend his sabbatical here with us!”

Dr. Kim has been married for 25 years to his wife, Sung-Hee Lee, an assistant professor at Chongshin University, Seoul, Korea, teaching Korean literature and writing. He has two daughters, Yoon-Young, who is currently preparing for her graduate studies in the USA, and Min-Young, who is studying in Korea as a university student.

During his time in Holland, Dr. Kim enjoys exploring nearby coffee shops and enjoying his sabbatical season.

“[I am] grateful to president Theonugraha, as well as the WTS community, for this meaningful invitation to serve as a visiting scholar,” said Dr. Kim. “The WTS community has been warm and welcoming.”

The season of Lent 2022 is quickly approaching, and we are delighted to share The End of the Christian Life: Lenten Study Companion written by Dr. J. Todd Billings, Professor of Reformed Theology, and Katlyn DeVries, Writing Assistant and Girod Assistant at Western Theological Seminary. This study guide draws themes from The End of the Christian Life book, written by Dr. J. Todd Billings. In this book, Billings “calls us to embrace our mortality in our daily life and faith. This is the journey of genuine discipleship, following the crucified and resurrected Lord in a world of distraction and false hopes.” Billings draws on his experience as a professor and father living with incurable cancer to offer a personal yet deeply theological account of the gospel’s expansive hope for small, mortal creatures. James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin University, shares that this book is “An invitation to find life in the embrace of our mortality.” To learn more about the Audiobook, E-book, or book in print, click here.

“Lent is a season of fasting and repentance that reminds us, in an embodied way, that we have not yet reached the promised land.”

Through a reflection of the seven weeks of Lent, beginning with the half-week that starts on Ash Wednesday, readers will have an opportunity to draw on themes from The End of the Christian Life which includes a psalm to orient our lives and our practices within the Word of God, a brief reflection, a prompt for prayer, and suggestions for daily and weekly practices. As the introduction notes, “This guide is a journey from darkness to light, culminating in the God of life revealed in the crucified and resurrected Christ. It brings readers on a pilgrimage to cultivate true Easter hope.”

We invite you to use this guide in conjunction with the individual or group reading of The End of the Christian Life. Join us in this journey as we deepen our faith and hope in Christ through The End of the Christian Life: Lenten Study Companion

To sign up for more news and the latest updates from Western Theological Seminary, click here.

In the age of Google, with seemingly endless information available at our fingertips, you might be wondering, “Why would I go to seminary?”  

Maybe you already know you have been called to be a pastor, worship leader, or teach the Bible. Perhaps you are still on your discernment journey, and maybe, like many who are called, you are eager to rank this possibility far down the list, but it just won’t go away.

However, we invite you to consider how continuing your education at seminary can help you prepare for leadership. 

Seminary will provide you with foundational knowledge.

We like to say that you wouldn’t want a doctor who hadn’t been to medical school or a lawyer who hadn’t been to law school. In the same way, you need a foundational education to prepare you for ministry. As a ministry leader, writer, or pastor, your job is to provide theological guidance to your congregation, readers, and community.  

Speaking, thinking, and offering faithful care for others on behalf of God bears weight and responsibility.

How does all of this relate to today? A rigorous academic education will give you the words to express the story of God and God’s overarching love for the world. 

Seminary faculty will lead you through biblical history, church history, systematic theology, and even biblical languages.  

This background knowledge will inform your future Google searches and help you discern between accurate and inaccurate biblical interpretations. 

We know that not all information on the internet is reliable. While your search engine may be able to supplement your knowledge, having a deep and rich understanding of the broad reach of Christian doctrine and biblical understanding will help you avoid critical errors as you seek to lead others spiritually. 

Seminary will help you broaden your perspective.

As your knowledge base grows, so does your perspective. It will not just grow through the lens of cultural context, but it will be built upon a historical and sacramental understanding of our Christian faith. You will better understand how Christians engaged with scripture and their cultural context, which will give you an understanding that allows empathy and compassion for other perspectives as you seek God’s heart.

Additionally, by engaging with these questions in a class or cohort, you will gain insight into new perspectives of our current day. While you can read about the experiences of Christians in history, there is no replacement for learning from classmates and faculty, especially when you can do so in person. These connections will give you an understanding that allows empathy and compassion for other perspectives as you seek God’s heart. 

Seminary will allow you to practice sitting with hard questions.

Knowledge alone will not be enough for navigating the hard questions our culture is asking. Rember Job and Job’s friends? Having the “answers” did not serve them when faced with suffering. No Google search or Youtube video could prepare them for that conversation. 

The formational nature of seminary will allow you to sit with difficult questions and be exposed to challenging conversations through the lens of scripture, doctrines, and history upon which our faith is formed.

Seminary will help you respond to these questions in an emotionally healthy way and to care well for the emotional and spiritual well-being of others- both those for which the Bible will provide direction and those that may require faithful care and waiting on the Spirit. 

At seminary, you will learn how to listen and hear the question beneath the question, helping others find the answers from within the longings that God has for the world and answer, “What does redemption and restoration look like?” 

Seminary prepares you for the weight of leadership.

Beginning with the Hebrew people and throughout Scripture, God shows that he delights in choosing a people for a “so that” purpose. 

  • “so that” through lives of love and justice, we can be a light that points to the one true God; 
  • “so that” others will hear our words and see our works and praise the God who redeems us and desires to redeem them; 
  • “so that” God’s people will reverse the injustices and inequities in our world, and the Kingdom of God will be restored. 

This call goes beyond the pulpit to leaders in faith communities, in faith-based non-profits, in faith-based counsel, and in faith-based writing and publishing. These leaders hold responsibility for providing witness to the redemptive love and work of God in the world through knowledge and historical context. 

Leaders in ministry vocations also hold a responsibility to provide witness to God’s revelation in scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit. They do this by learning and embodying spiritual practices and disciplines that have served Christian and Jewish faith leaders throughout history. 

A Master of Divinity is still needed in many contexts.

Seminary is not the right place for someone who “just needs to check the box.” However, it is worth noting that most mainline churches and church denominations still require or prefer pastors with a Master of Divinity.  

Congregations and church elders want pastors that are well-prepared through academic learning and spiritual formation that is developed through a seminary education.  

So, if you have been prayerfully discerning if God is calling you into ministry leadership as a vocation, or if you are currently working in a field that would benefit from a deeper understanding of Christian doctrine, seminary may be the next right step in your journey.  

Still not sure if seminary is right for you? Contact one of our admissions counselors who are equipped to help you discern if this is the right path for you.