News from Western Theological Seminary

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 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.

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 is pleased to announce the 2022 Leonard F. Stoutemire Lecture in Multicultural Ministry speaker will be Dr. Tony Tian-Ren Lin. 

This in-person event will occur in the Mulder Chapel at Western Theological Seminary on Monday, March 7, from 1:30-3:00 PM and is open to the public. 

Dr. Tony Tian-Ren Lin’s lecture, Multicultural Faithfulness, will speak to the challenges of multiracialism and the Christian leader. He will also be hosting some conversations in Spanish.

Dr. Tony Tian-Ren Lin is the Program Director for the Leadership Development initiative at Trinity Church Wall Street. He is a cultural sociologist whose scholarship focuses on the intersection of religion, immigration, race, and ethnicity. He is the author of Prosperity Gospel Latinos and Their American Dream (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), which is praised by Publisher’s Weekly as a “well-reasoned,” “evocative debut” that “immerse[s] readers in the lives of his subjects.” His work has been featured on NPR, Latino USA, The Atlantic Monthly, and other national media. Lin is also an ordained Presbyterian minister.

The Leonard F. Stoutemire Lectures in Multicultural Ministry are named in honor of the late Reverend Leonard Foster Stoutemire, pioneer African American clergyman and church planter to Holland, Michigan. Although he initially wanted to be a missionary in Africa, in 1944, Stoutemire migrated to Holland, MI, to plant the city’s first intentionally multi-racial congregation, the All Nations Full Gospel Church of Holland.

The lectures equip seminarians, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and local congregations with resources for increased intercultural competence for greater effectiveness in Christian ministry.

Beginning in 2022, Western Theological Seminary will offer a one-semester theological introduction course to Farsi-speaking students identified by the Persian ministry of Words of Hope.

The vision for this project is to implement a systematic training program to equip church leaders inside of Iran. Students will be spiritually formed, biblically grounded, theologically trained, and practically equipped with ministry skills. This course is a unique and historic opportunity to build up the church in Iran, one of the most contentious places in the world. 

For over 30 years, Words of Hope (WOH) has broadcast the gospel into the country of Iran via shortwave radio. In 2018, Words of Hope transitioned from shortwave radio to digital technology, utilizing 24/7 internet radio, websites, and any available social media platform. This proved to be successful, and tens of thousands of Farsi-speakers began interacting with the WOH Persian leader, which led to several developments. The WOH Persian leader recruited key individuals to join the Persian ministry team located in Texas, Germany, Turkey, and Iran. Realizing the need for strategic discipleship, WOH implemented “Discipleship Essentials” training modules. This training was included in the semi-annual conference broadcasts as well as in bi-weekly Zoom meetings. Additionally, a number of house churches have now been planted inside of Iran, which is led by individuals that are participating in the discipleship training.

About Words of Hope

The mission of Words of Hope (WOH) is to provide people both near and far with daily access to God’s Word. Words of Hope provides free daily devotional resources to help people stay connected to God’s truth and partners with emerging Christian leaders around the world to share the good news of Jesus.

Holland, MI – Western Theological Seminary (WTS) has received a grant of $1 million to support the launch of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination and to expand student access to the seminary’s Hispanic Ministry Program (HMP). 

The effort is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

The grant will support the Seminary’s Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination as it partners across denominational lines and nurtures pastors toward a lifetime of humble, faithful ministry. The Peterson Center launched this fall and continues the work of Eugene Peterson, author of 40+ books and translator of The Message, by encouraging pastors, artists, and hopeful-but-often-perplexed Christians toward a God-drenched life that renews our humanity, creativity, and sacred calling. 

The grant will also support WTS’s Hispanic Ministry Program as it establishes new partnerships, identifies and recruits new students, and integrates the ethos of Peterson’s ministry into its academic programs. It will also open the door for seminary education to students who have not historically had access to affordable ATS accredited programs. 

“We are so grateful for this generous grant from Lilly Endowment. The church is God’s chosen vehicle to share the good news of the Gospel–the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ–and the abundant life that we may live through the Holy Spirit,” said WTS President Felix Theonugraha. “We are excited for the opportunity through this grant to raise up leaders for God’s church by cultivating faithful and humble pastoral imaginations and by equipping the growing Hispanic congregations in the United States.”

WTS is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). 

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr., and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. In keeping with the founder’s wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.  The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate, and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

Western Theological Seminary Receives “Following Jesus” Book Donation

RCA Missionary, Nozomi Brownell, who has been living and serving in Yokohama, Japan, has recently completed her translation of the second Children and Worship textbook, Following Jesus. Nozomi is honored that this book will be added to the Japanese book collection here at Western Theological Seminary.

This book is being donated with dedication to Dr. Sonja Stewart, who was the founder of Children and Worship and was Nozomi’s supervisor when she was a Master of Religious Education student. The book is also dedicated to all the retired missionaries to Japan who cultivated the field with tears and sweat to bring forth the fruits among the Japanese souls. May this book be a testament to the work that God is doing in Japan and around the world.