Covenant The magazine of Covenant Theological Seminary
The Beauty of His
The Power of His
FROM THE PRESIDENT
The Beauty of His Light, The power of his word
“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” —Acts 2:39 I had the great privilege this past summer of watching one of my daughters exchange marriage vows with her betrothed. The promise they made to each other was beautiful. Yet, lovely as it was, the promise that these two children of God made to each other is only a pale picture of the promise that God has made to those who trust in him—the promise of his faithfulness to us despite our failings and of his gift of redemption and eternal life that is fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I pray that by God’s grace my daughter and her husband will experience a lifetime of blessing and happiness in a loving, caring, self-sacrificing marriage that reflects the love, care, and self-sacrifice of our Savior for his people. And I pray that, should the Lord bless them with children, their love for and trust in their Redeemer will be a shining light that guides those young ones along the path of God’s truth. As the Bible teaches us—and as several of the features in this issue of Covenant illustrate—parents’ faithfulness can have a profound impact on the lives and faithfulness of their children. Ultimately it is the power of the Holy Spirit working in them that moves our children to trust in Christ, but, at the same time, our gospel witness through the daily ups and downs of life has a tremendous influence in helping our children claim God’s covenant promise as their own. Reaching across the generations with the gospel in this way may perhaps receive less attention in our thinking and in our pulpits than does reaching across geographical or cultural boundaries with it. But this aspect of our mission as Christians is equally as important. Like two sides of the same coin, both are essential for the future vitality of the church and of any evangelistic endeavors to which we give our hearts. Though training church leaders is the primary mission of Covenant Seminary, a closely related part of our ministry is to provide our students, the church, and the world with resources to enrich their spiritual lives and encourage them in their faith. Over the last several months the Lord has graciously provided new opportunities for us to expand on this calling and increase the range and scope of our influence for the gospel. Through a newly redesigned Web site with enhanced capabilities, a renewed commitment to offering free master’s-level seminary course materials online, and an exciting new Internetbased broadcast ministry that will enable us to reach hundreds of thousands of people for Christ each day, we are attempting to break the barriers of geography and bridge the gap between the generations in ways that will have a lasting impact for God’s Kingdom. I ask you to join with us in asking the Lord’s blessing on these tasks to which he has called us, and I pray that the joy and the beauty of his covenant promise will be made abundantly clear to you in your own life—and in the lives of your children and grandchildren.
hat Drew Us to W Covenant Seminary
One woman reflects on the influence Covenant Seminary has had on her life, marriage, and ministry.
The Seminary pays tribute to the life of one of its founding fathers.
Scriptures selected by Professor Jerram Barrs inspire us to take hold of the true covenantal promise represented by the Advent season.
Shelter Amid A Life’s Storms
A student reflects upon his experience at a retreat where people live, work, and study together in a communal atmosphere based on the model of L’Abri Fellowship.
iving, Learning, and L Loving
Three students who were featured as student profiles in Covenant magazine five years ago share candidly about the joys and challenges of their current ministries.
nriching Lives and E Enhancing Marriages
The Family Nurture program at Covenant Seminary offers various activities and emphases to help individual students and families thrive during seminary and prepare for their future ministries.
how you can make an eternal difference in the world today
Bryan Chapell, President
Tom Waldecker & Sons
seminary news & Events
COVENANT | Winter 2008
B AC K COVER
Vol. 23, No. 4
left: Tom and Beth Ann Stein moved to St. Louis for seminary just two weeks after marrying. right: Tom graduated from Covenant Seminary in 1983 with a Master of Divinity degree.
What Drew Us to Covenant Seminary Dear Dr. Chapell and Friends of Covenant Seminary, Recently Tom and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. What a blessing it has been to look back and reflect upon Godâ€™s goodness to us! It is hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when we were looking at seminaries while also planning our wedding. We narrowed our choice of seminaries down to two: one an hour from my family, and Covenant Seminary, which was six hours from Tomâ€™s family and 18 hours from mine. We visited both schools, and the choice was obvious. The grace-filled, practical theology-minded professors who embraced us as friends and seemed eager to disciple compelled us to choose Covenant Theological Seminary as the place where we would start our lives and ministry as husband and wife.
From the first cold January day when we stepped foot on campus to visit until the warm spring day when Tom received his diploma, it was evident that Covenant’s professors taught their students to be both theologians and pastors. As we anticipated attending seminary and preparing for ministry, the practical theology aspect of the Seminary’s Master of Divinity (MDiv) program encouraged us. We also were very blessed to hear of the recently developed Family Nurture program that would support us both as we became rooted in grace for our lifetime of ministry. We believed that this was especially important for us newlyweds who were so far from loved ones. (We got married and arrived at the Seminary just two weeks later. I often tell people I was blessed to have a three-year honeymoon in St. Louis!) I appreciated the practical training and theological education that I, the wife of a student, was able to receive in seminars, chapels, and in classes. Today, I still benefit from the wisdom and practical hints shared at a hospitality seminar hosted by and in the home of Sue Jones (the wife of professor David Jones) more than 18 years ago. I also enjoy a special kinship with other pastors’ wives. I remember the first time I felt that way: it was when I attended a wives fellowship, full of endless joy and laughter, that the late Jan Kooistra hosted for all of the student and faculty wives in her home. I remember also the example set for me by your wife, Kathy. She had a joyful servant’s heart as she directed some musical events I participated in on campus. My family has been blessed day in and day out by the many skills and recipes that I was taught by other on-campus wives who prayed for me and sought to be my friends. They also taught me what it means to be a godly wife and homemaker. My life has been radically changed by what the Lord has done (and is still doing) through the ministry of Covenant Seminary. In this, our twentieth year of marriage and our fifteenth year together in vocational ministry, we are still blessed by the grace-filled, practical theology-minded ladies and gentlemen who taught us how to live as young adults, newlyweds, and disciples of Christ, and who still teach us from afar through a variety of channels. We continue to benefit from your magazine, conferences,
COVENANT | Winter 2008
CDs, General Assembly seminars, and Web site. Currently Tom is applying for the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at the Seminary so that by God’s grace he can further his ministry skills for the benefit of the Kingdom, our church, and our community. I am confident that our family (which has grown from two to five) will benefit personally, too, from the time and training the Lord gives Tom on the Covenant Seminary campus and with your faculty and his fellow classmates. I appreciate the firm foundation the Lord laid in our lives because of our training at Covenant Seminary, and I look forward to how that foundation will be enhanced by the continual support that the Seminary offers. I am grateful for how the Seminary has supported us and continues to encourage us! Thank you for your faithfulness to God in training future ministry leaders. Knowing the Seminary’s commitment and approach brought me great peace in the midst of a tearful goodbye in the fall of 2007 when I watched one of my spiritual daughters (Autumn Nottingham), her husband (Jeff), and their children move to St. Louis to begin their formal ministry training at Covenant Seminary. What a delight it is to see them blossom as they now are being rooted in grace and equipped for a lifetime of fruitful ministry. By God’s grace and for his glory, I pray that on our fortieth anniversary we will still be benefiting from the grace-filled ministry and life skills consistently and faithfully offered by Covenant Seminary. May God’s Kingdom come at Covenant Seminary and to all those to whom she faithfully ministers. My prayers are with you all. Gratefully, Beth Ann Stein Beth Ann Stein Beth Ann Stein and her husband, Tom, serve at Christ Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Indiana, where Tom has been the senior pastor for nine years. Beth Ann works for Communities In Schools as the family resource coordinator at Charles Elementary School, and she leads a junior high girls’ life group at the church. She and Tom are involved in parent leadership with the church youth group and both are in the choir. The Steins have three children: Taylor (age 15), Andrew (age 12), and Emily (age 9).
This year marks 20 years of marriage for Beth Ann and Tom Stein and 15 years of serving together in ministry.
In M e moriam:
Dr. Wilber B. Wallis (1912–2008)
t is with great sorrow that we announce the death of one of the Seminary’s founding fathers and a great man of faith: Dr. Wilber B. Wallis, who died August 20, 2008. Dr. Wallis, who had been in declining health for several years, died peacefully in St. Louis, Missouri. He was 95 years old. The seminary community grieves with Dr. Wallis’s family and friends at the loss of this faithful servant of God, yet we rejoice as well that he is now face to face with the Savior whom he loved so much. Dr. Wallis was a wonderful example of how God’s grace flows through his servants to bless and build up his people. When he became a founding member of the Covenant Seminary faculty in 1956, he had already had a full and illustrious career as a pastor, scholar, and administrator. He pastored the West Philadelphia Bible Presbyterian Church from 1941 to 1942 before serving four years in the United States Army (1942–46). After his military service, Dr. Wallis spent nine years on the faculty of the former Shelton College (1947–1956), after which time he came to St. Louis to help establish Covenant Seminary. Specializing in eschatology (theological study of the final events in history), Dr. Wallis taught in the New Testament department until his retirement in 1982, when he was granted emeritus status. Because of his extensive knowledge of the Bible, Dr. Wallis was often asked by friends and colleagues to identify certain passages of Scripture without being given the exact citations; very seldom was he stumped. A man of deep prayer, Dr. Wallis was also known for his comprehensive knowledge of the Greek language and his insight into the unity of the Old and New Testaments. His personal commitment to students over the years made him a favorite source of thoughtful, practical wisdom as well as a revered figure in Covenant Seminary’s history. Dr. Wallis also used his considerable teaching gifts to benefit students at various overseas schools where he taught and
lectured throughout his long career. In addition, he served as a translator of the book of Acts for the New International Version of the Bible and was a contributor to the five-volume Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible and the NIV Study Bible. Along with his late wife, Marie, Dr. Wallis coauthored the book Troop School for Christian Soldiers, a manual for instructing children in the Christian faith. In addition to being a respected scholar and teacher, Dr. Wallis was also a dedicated churchman. His was deeply committed to serving God and people. He served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society and was active on the board of the American Institute of Holy Land Studies and on the Credentials and Examinations Committee of his presbytery. Dr. Bryan Chapell, president of Covenant Seminary and a former student of Dr. Wallis, notes, “I have seen firsthand how powerfully the Lord used this man for the sake of his Kingdom. He was well known for his rare combination of wisdom, gentleness, fairness, sympathy, and spiritual discernment. His love of God’s Word and his passion for prayer made him a tender teacher whose influence on the many pastors and ministry leaders he helped to train was profound.” Dr. Wallis is survived by his 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. The Covenant Seminary community extends its deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and former colleagues of this remarkable man. Though he will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him, we celebrate his life of faithful service and look forward to the day when we will be reunited with him in glory. Rick matt Rick Matt (MATS ’05) serves as associate director of public relations for Covenant Seminary, where he writes and edits a variety of print and electronic materials to support the Seminary’s mission of training pastors and ministry leaders for Christ’s church.
below: Dr. Wallis and his wife, Marie right: Dr. Wallis taught in the New Testament department until his retirement in 1982.
above: Dr. Will Barker (left), a fomer president of Covenant Seminary, was a profes-
sor and colleague of Dr. Wallis.
A d v e n t D ev oti ons We pray that this Advent season will be a blessed time for you and your family as we all celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and look with expectation to the day of his return.
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.” (Num. 24:17) Thursday, December 4
Deuteronomy 18:14–22—A Prophet Like Moses
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.” –– 12th Century (Author Unknown)
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen . . .” (Deut. 18:15) Friday, December 5
2 Samuel 7:1–17––Son of David “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Sam. 7:13)
Sunday, November 30
Genesis 3:1–20—Seed of Eve Monday, December 1
Saturday, December 6
Genesis 22:1–18—Only Beloved Son and Sacrifice
Psalm 2—Messiah: Son of God and King
Tuesday, December 2
Genesis 48:15–16; 49:8–10—Lion of Judah
Sunday, December 7
Wednesday, December 3
Psalm 16 and Job 19:23–27—Holy One and Resurrected Redeemer
Numbers 23:18–24; 24:3–9, 15–19––Star of Jacob
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Ps. 16:5–6)
“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob,
Monday, December 8
Psalm 22—The One Forsaken by God Tuesday, December 9
Psalm 72—Royal Son, Deliverer of the Afflicted Wednesday, December 10
Psalm 110—Priest and Lord at God’s Right Hand “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.’ ” (Ps. 110:4) Thursday, December 11
Isaiah 7:14; 9:1–7—Immanuel, Mighty God and Prince of Peace “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)
COVENANT | Winter 2008
Friday, December 12
Saturday, December 20
Isaiah 11:1–10—The Branch From Jesse’s Root
Malachi 3:1–4; 4:1–6—Covenant Messenger and Sun of Righteousness
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (Isa. 11:1–2)
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. 3:1) Sunday, December 21
Saturday, December 13
Isaiah 42:1–10—Covenant and Light of the Nations Sunday, December 14
Isaiah 49:1–7; 50:4–11— Servant of Kings, Sustainer of the Weary Monday, December 15
Isaiah 52:13–53:12—Suffering Servant and Lamb of God Tuesday, December 16
Jeremiah 23:1–6; 33:14–19—Righteous Branch Wednesday, December 17
Luke 1:5–38—Son of the Most High “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ “ (Luke 1:26–33)
Ezekiel 34:1–31—The Good Shepherd “I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” (Ezek. 34:22–24)
Monday, December 22
Luke 1:39–80—The Tender Mercy of God Tuesday, December 23
Matthew 1:18–25—Savior from Sin Wednesday, December 24
Thursday, December 18
John 1:1–14—Word Made Flesh
Daniel 7:9–14 and Micah 5:2–5a—The Son of Man and Ruler from Bethlehem
Thursday, December 25
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13–14) Friday, December 19
Zechariah 9:9–10;12:10–13:1—King on a Donkey and Pierced Firstborn
Luke 2:1–20; Matthew 2:1–12—The Birth of Jesus Jerram Barrs A student of the late Francis A. Schaeffer, Professor Barrs joined the Seminary faculty in 1989 after 18 years with L’Abri Fellowship in England, where he also served as a pastor in the International Presbyterian Church. Professor Barrs brings to his teaching a special sensitivity toward those outside the Christian faith. He is the author of numerous books, the most recent of which is The Heart of Prayer.
join us for Advent at living christ 360 Join us at www.LivingChrist360.com this Advent season as Dr. Bryan Chapell leads us through some of these passages every Friday. Dr. Chapell will also discuss how these beautiful verses can not only encourage you in your faith, but also lead you to share the hope we have in Christ with family and friends this holiday season—and always.
A Shelter Amid Lifeâ€™s Storms
For two weeks each January, directors from the Lâ€™Abri Fellowship branch in Rochester, Minnesota, lead a retreat in Steelville, Missouri, that follows the typical activity and individual study schedule of these communal study centers. Here, one Covenant Seminary student reflects upon his experience at a recent retreat.
from left: Professsor Richard Winter led a discussion about depression at a recent L’Abri-style retreat in Steelville, Missouri. Retreat participants explore the acreage of the farm where they stay. Typical of L’Abri, a warm atmosphere at meals sets the tone for focused discussions. Days involve a balance of study and chores to support the needs of the group.
ecades before the word “community” became a buzzword in circles of the emergent church, the late Francis Schaeffer and his wife, Edith, started the first L’Abri (a French word for “shelter”) Fellowship in Switzerland, a home-based ministry where they welcomed religious questioners and doubters and provided honest seekers with a safe place to think through their faith concerns and issues. More than 50 years later, L’Abri still exists and now includes several branches spread out over a few countries. For two weeks every January, Covenant Seminary students and people in the St. Louis area have the opportunity to get a taste of the L’Abri experience when Jock and Alison McGregor, directors of the L’Abri branch in Rochester, Minnesota, host a retreat at the Kramer family farm in Steelville, Missouri. After a tiring fall semester and an intense January term of studying Greek, I longed for rest and reflection, so I joined the retreat for one week. Though not an official L’Abri, the retreat’s structure includes a balance of individual study, communal meals and discussions, chores, and group-oriented living— aspects that make L’Abri study centers unique. Upon arrival, I and others were welcomed by students (all visitors at L’Abri are called students—i.e., one who works on ideas, learns, and grows) who were singing hymns. Supper was almost ready, and the fireplace provided a homey atmosphere. I immediately felt welcomed, loved, and cared for. It felt like coming to someone’s home—not a place where I was to learn but a place where people share their lives. This holistic living is what I fell in love with at L’Abri. It’s an approach where all aspects of life work together for the glory of God and in which God can be experienced as quite nearby. L’Abri is a ministry that fosters love for creation, community, and deep relationships; engagement with the arts, culture, and sciences; unconditional love for people who don’t have it all together (and who does?); and care for our bodies. The excellent meals— especially noon and supper—provided the moments when I experienced these elements most abundantly. The table was always well set, lit by candlelight, and decorated with flowers. Jock, who sat at the head of the table, would usually bring up a subject or ask one of the students to start the conversation. Once a question was presented, a discussion in which everybody participated and carefully listened to each other would follow. I vividly remember the moving discussion we had with Dr. Richard Winter about for
giveness and the challenges it brings, as well as the conversation with Dr. Nelson Jennings about cultures and how they affect us. Many times I found myself listening quietly, amazed by the profound wisdom shared and the applicability it had for everyday life. These times were emotionally and intellectually very stimulating. Not every minute of the week, however, could be spent discussing existential issues of life. Maybe the strength of L’Abri lies in the fact that those strong community times are embedded in ordinary life, alongside its sometimes mundane tasks. With a worldview deeply rooted in the Reformed faith, L’Abri students see even mundane tasks as bringing glory to God when done faithfully. On those quiet and cold winter mornings, I experienced how chopping wood can be a deeply spiritual activity, refreshing for both mind and body. I think that perhaps this brought me closer to God than the discussions around the dinner table. This alternation of physical work, study, community time, and meals provided a well-balanced routine in which each aspect could flourish optimally; it is a routine that seminary life—especially for single students—sometimes lacks and that reminded me of the days when I lived with my parents. During the evenings, the pace slowed a little bit. We shared stories around the fireplace; played games; watched Stranger Than Fiction (2006), a postmodern movie that sparked a lot of discussion (several days later seminary student David Noble [MDiv ’08] and I were still talking about the plot and its implications); and went out for truck rides in the bitter cold January nights to watch the beauty of God’s creation displayed by thousands of stars twinkling over the rolling hills around Steelville. Looking back, I find it amazing how a week like this could have such an impact on my life. The personal interest that both Jock and Alison (and their helpers) displayed toward every student, the strong community that they built in a short period of time, the deep commitment that they had to the well-being of each individual as well as the entire group, and their deep love for God and his Word all testify to the restoring power of the gospel and lives that are driven by true spirituality. It was an experience I will never forget. A. J. Poelarends Arend Jan “A. J.” Poelarends (MDiv ’11) is a second-year student who moved to Missouri from the Netherlands after studying and working for some years as an astrophysicist at Utrecht University. Upon graduation, he hopes to return to Europe to work in one of the larger university cities to minister to higher-educated people, both Christian and non-Christian.
In addition to supporting the work of Covenant Seminary through financial gifts, the Kramer family also graciously allows the use of their family farm in Steelville, Missouri, for two weeks every January so that directors from a L’Abri Fellowship can host a retreat for people with spiritual questions.
Called to Give
uring the Great Flood of 1993, the mighty Missouri River overflowed its banks, bursting levees and sweeping away countless homes and businesses in the Chesterfield Valley west of St. Louis. Among the casualties was Cambridge Engineering, a manufacturer of industrial space-heating systems that Jack Kramer and his family had worked so hard to build up over the previous 30 years. With everything destroyed and virtually no flood insurance to help rebuild, Jack had a difficult decision to make: abandon the company and the people whose livelihoods depended on it, or go back in and start from scratch. Reminded by his son, John, of something he himself had once said during a Bible study about the patriarch Joseph—“Adversity can either make you bitter, or it can make you better”—Jack conquered his anger at the situation and decided to rebuild the company from the ground up. With that act of faith on Jack’s part, God’s own faithfulness once again became powerfully evident in his life. Jack’s mortgage company waived a full year of principal and interest payments. An army of volunteers, including many Covenant Seminary students, helped to clean up the muddy mess at the company’s headquarters. A contractor offered to help rebuild at cost. Setting up a temporary plant elsewhere and subcontracting out work that could not be done in-house, Jack and his friends got Cambridge up and running again within a year of the flood. During that time, the company did not lose a single order, suppliers offered generous terms, and no employees left the company—even though there was no payroll to offer them at first. “God made it abundantly clear to me that he wanted me here, doing this,” Jack says quietly. “I was called.” John, who took over the company after his father’s retirement a few years ago, notes, “If God gives you back something that he gave and then took away, it’s a blessing. It should be stewarded, shared, and built upon. God is much bigger than I ever thought, and he always comes through in ways I couldn’t have imagined.” Such trust in God and reliance on his faithfulness are characteristic of the members of the Kramer family, who have been good friends and supporters of Covenant Seminary for many years. Jack has served on the Seminary’s board of trustees for more than a decade; John sits on the advisory board for the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute, a post he took over from his mother, Sissy (MATS ’95), who died of pancreatic cancer in 1999. Both see their involvement with the Seminary as an outgrowth of their faith and a function of what they perceive as their calling to bless others as they have been blessed. Jack comments, “God gives each of us different gifts, and each of them is valuable. The gift of giving is a wonderful thing—however, the Bible says we’re not supposed to brag about it but to count it as a privilege. Like any gift God gives us, we’re just supposed to use it for his glory. The Lord gave me the gift of giving and the tools to give, so I feel that I have a calling to do this. Seeing how God can work in your life and in the lives of others through your gifts—whatever they are—is phenomenal.” The Kramers’ long and mutually fruitful association with the Seminary actually developed in a somewhat roundabout way, mainly through the influence of Sissy, Jack’s late first wife. A teacher with Bible Study
Fellowship International for more than 10 years, Sissy’s love for Gods’ Word and her insatiable hunger for learning more about it eventually led her to audit a variety of classes at the Seminary. She fell in love with the place and the people and developed deep and lasting friendships with many of the students and professors. John notes that his mother’s classes with Jerram Barrs, which dealt with the inter-relationship between the Christian faith and the arts and culture, had an especially profound impact on her—and through her, on her entire family. “I’m not sure how Mom first heard of [the late] Francis Schaeffer,” John notes. “It was probably through her voracious reading. I know at one point she saw Schaeffer’s film Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, and that really affected her. We visited L’Abri Fellowship [Schaeffer’s community-driven study center ministry for people struggling with faith questions] during a family vacation in Switzerland. That was an important moment for Mom, and it started my own experience of Schaeffer and his work.” Sissy’s involvement with the Seminary and the thenfledgling Schaeffer Institute led to her being asked to sit on its advisory board. It was an honor she did not take lightly, and she threw herself into it with a passion that was infectious. The entire Kramer family, and even many of their friends, were blessed by the thirst for knowledge that led Sissy to develop Bible studies based on what she was learning in her classes; mentor women who needed guidance in their faith (including the woman who, after Sissy’s death, eventually became Jack’s second wife, Sallie); and to pass on to her children and grandchildren a love for the Lord and his Word. Other family members, inspired by her example, also took some classes at the Seminary. Soon, Jack was asked to serve on the Seminary board. He initially felt some trepidation about this. “At my first board meeting, I saw all these men who were pillars of the Christian community, and I thought, ‘What am I doing here? Why did they pick me?’ I still don’t really know why. It was purely a picture of God’s grace.” Over the years, Seminary faculty members and students became regular visitors to the Kramer home and to a farm the family owns in Steelville, Missouri. The family’s passion for the Seminary, their involvement with L’Abri and the Schaeffer Institute, and their desire to reach people who have sincere questions about the Christian faith inspired them to host annual L’Abri-style retreats at their cabin on the farm. (See page 7 for one student’s reflection on his experience.) These retreats provide a safe refuge where students, faculty members, and people seeking deeper understanding about Christianity can interact in a non-judgmental environment. The farm has also served as a place of refreshment for many pastors seeking renewal after years of ministry. Because the cabin is a family home and its use by others is limited, the
Kramers have started Ebenezer Trust, a nonprofit foundation they hope will expand their ability to serve in this way by developing their vision for a full-fledged retreat center on a portion of their property they call Ebenezer Hill—echoing the
if you’re going to have teachers training young pastors, you want only the best giving out god’s truth biblical concept of the “ebenezer” or “stone of remembrance” (see 1 Samuel 7). Though this vision began with Sissy, it remains a passion for Jack and Sallie, who both love the Seminary and its mission. John, too, is deeply committed to this part of the family legacy. “My heart sings when I hear the stories of people who have been impacted by their time at the farm,” he says. “It’s a privilege for us to support that.” The Kramers have been blessed by their involvement in many other aspects of the Seminary as well. Jack and John have both been regular attendees at the Men’s Leadership Breakfast (MLB), an on-campus Bible study led by Seminary professors for men in the St. Louis area. Jack sees the MLB as an important vehicle for spreading the truth of the gospel and for better equipping both lay people and pastors to serve the Lord. “We face a serious problem in our culture today,” Jack emphasizes. “We’re inundated with the social gospel, and we face enemies from within the church itself. Covenant Seminary is one of the few holdouts for the truth of God’s Word. It’s important to keep sending out people who are equipped and informed to live and teach the truth, not just to say what is pleasing to the ear.” John sees similar benefit in such initiatives as the Intersect Forum, developed by the Seminary’s Center for Ministry Leadership. Intersect brings together church leaders and business executives to explore contemporary leadership issues and develop mutually beneficial models for leadership. As a participant in the very first forum and an observer or presenter in subsequent ones, John found the wisdom gained during his Intersect experience especially helpful as he transitioned into the top position at Cambridge Engineering following Jack’s retirement. “It validated what I was going through in my own life and helped
me develop a new skill set for handling leadership issues in the company,” he says. “Intersect helped me understand myself and the impact of the business in the community.” Such deep involvement in the life of the Seminary has left its mark on both men and their families. They see this as a sign of God’s grace in their lives and view their support of the institution as one way of giving back some of the blessings that they have received. “I’ve been blown away by seeing what God has done through the students, the teaching, and the hearts that have been changed by the gospel being preached all over the world,” says John. “But even if you don’t take any classes here, there are so many other ways you can be equipped through Covenant Seminary. It’s a privilege for me to be part of it in some small way.” Jack adds, “The Seminary is important to me because of its emphasis on right teaching and right relationships, its grace focus—which is unique in my experience—and its good models of leadership. There are many good ministries and worthy causes to support, but I can’t think of any place where you can have a greater impact on the Kingdom than through investing in Covenant Seminary.” top: The Kramer family above: The family property in Steelville, Missouri, provides a great place for reflection, especially for guests who participate in the annual retreat hosted there in January.
Rick Matt Rick Matt (MATS ’05) serves as associate director of public relations for Covenant Theological Seminary, where he writes and edits a variety of print and electronic materials to support the Seminary’s mission of training pastors and ministry leaders for Christ’s church.
This Year, Give a Gift that Changes Lives Your Partnership Ensures That The Message of God’s Grace Reaches a World in Need of Hope As the year comes to a close, you can maximize your year-end giving and take full advantage of tax-deduction opportunities by considering the following giving options:
• • • •
Do you wish to dispose of highly appreciated property? Do you have assets subject to increased capital gains taxes? Do you have existing life insurance policies that are no longer needed? Do you have retirement assets you no longer need?
If you would like to give in one of the preceding ways, please contact our Advancement office at 1.800.264.8064 for assistance with your gift, or use the enclosed return envelope.
Five years after seminary, Peter Dishman (MDiv ‘04) serves the Lord on a college campus in Mexico, following his heart to work in a Spanish-speaking context.
Living, Learning, and Loving: Real-Life Ministry in Action
Five years ago, Covenant magazine featured profiles of then-students Peter Dishman (MDiv ’04), Shirley and Lou Best (MDiv ’04) , and Heidi and Andre Lewis (MDiv ’04), in which they discussed their intended post-seminary plans. Here we catch up with them for updates on what the Lord has been doing in their lives over the last half-decade.*
eter Dishman came to Covenant Seminary with hopes of preparing to serve the church in a Spanish-speaking context. After graduation, Peter began to see the fulfillment of that desire. In January 2005, he arrived in Mexico City, Mexico, and set out (working through Mission to the World [MTW]) to begin the first international work of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (National Autonomous University of Mexico; UNAM), a school with an enrollment of more than 150,000
peter dishman reformed university fellowship (RUF) at unam mexico city, mexico “The sheer size of the need in this city for the gospel and its transforming power can be overwhelming.” undergrads—making it something of a city unto itself. Today God has grown the ministry into a modest group of students seeking to love Christ, his Word, his church, and his Kingdom. “Mexico City and the UNAM are massive and complex
organisms,” Peter says. “They are rich in history, peculiar in character, and breathtaking in their capacity for hope and despair. Sometimes the sheer size of the need in this city for the gospel and its transforming power can be overwhelming.” Mexico City has roughly 8.7 million residents—though there are more than 25 million people in the area when you count the numerous shanty towns. Peter notes, “Some tens of millions of people here have never had contact with Christians. There are so many ways that the glorious ruins of individual lives need to be redeemed and restored from the inside. This can only happen through the power of the person and work of Jesus. Still, when I feel the weight of this pushing down on me, two things help— looking at God’s work in the bigger picture and looking at God’s work in the smaller picture.” That tension between the grand/global and the little/local views is not exclusive to Mexico. Graduate Lou Best has experienced that reality in the midst of his church-planting efforts in Harker Heights, Texas, a south-easterly suburb of Killeen, home to the nation’s largest active-duty armored post. Now in his third year as a church planter, retired colonel Lou says, “In terms of internal congregational support, most church planters hope to be near self-sufficiency by the third year. Here at Hill Country Mission Church (PCA), we actually
* Previous articles on these students can be found at www.covenantseminary.edu. Choose “Resources for Life” under the “Grow” tab at the top, and then click on the “Our Resource Library” link in the text to search for “Covenant magazine.”
Shirley (front row, second from left) and Lou Best (MDiv ‘04; back row directly behind Shirley) faihfully minister to a military congregation that sees a lot of turnover.
are on our third congregation and are nowhere near that point.” The nature of military reassignments means that families are usually only in the area for a maximum of three years. Because our nation is currently at war, the deployment schedule exacerbates the turbulence. “Everyone who was here when we first arrived has been redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan,” Lou explains. “Just about everyone who arrived in the second wave has also been reassigned, and those who are left are functionally single mothers.” For military families, marriages are often the greatest casualties of repeated deployments. Loneliness due to multiyear separations often gives rise to infidelity. Husbands (and sometimes
Lou & Shirley Best Hill Country Mission Church Harker Heights, Texas “Everyone who was [at Fort Hood] when we first arrived has been redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
wives) who return from war rarely go unchanged. Even in a solid marriage with God as its foundation, there is a new “normal”— life has gone forward for both the husband and for the wife. In a struggling marriage founded on fluid societal or cultural values, consequences such as aggression (with cases of physical abuse, drug and alcohol use, and neglect increasingly common) and infidelity are distressingly frequent. The Fort Hood community has borne a disproportionately large share of killed and wounded soldiers compared to other military installations around the country. A Gold Star family member is one who has lost a service member while on active duty. Lou’s wife, Shirley, works with HUGSS (Helping Unite Gold Star Survivors) at the Gold Star Family Support Center at Fort Hood, which has given her another opportunity to see the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ at work in broken lives. Both Lou and Shirley assist
Army chaplains with marriage retreats to help families reunite and cope with the inevitable changes brought on by war. While the Bests deal with the constant turnover of their congregation, for graduate Andre Lewis, a church-planter in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington, the struggles are different: he faces disappointment and discouragement. “Church planting from scratch has been the hardest thing that I have ever done,” Andre explains. “It doesn’t take much to disappoint. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have prayed, ‘Jesus, I believe; help my unbelief!’ I have learned that as a pastor I can bruise easily and that I can easily bruise others. Instead of being patient with people I have pushed them too hard. Fear can make you do really stupid things.” The community of Redmond is home to software giant Microsoft. The global aspect of Microsoft has uniquely shaped the community in which the Lewises find themselves—with neighbors who are German, French, Romanian, Indian, Korean, Japanese, and Brazilian. As Andre puts it, “There’s never a dull moment.” Of interest is the willingness of these international families—nominal in their own faith systems—to send their children to Redeemer Redmond. Nominal Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, and animists are glad to have someone pick up their children on Sunday morning so that the parents can sleep in. “We have 55 children attending,” Andre says, pointing to the church’s need for a children’s minister. “But here’s the rub: that person would have to raise all his support.” Andre and his wife, Heidi, are raising children Karter, Warner, and Landon in this diverse and secular environment. “On our way out to Seattle, our hope was that God would use us to open the doors of the church and people would naturally flood in to hear God’s sacred Word preached,” Andre remembers. “Well, we opened the doors alright, but there was more of a trickle than a flood. One Sunday I preached to just 12 adults.” When the challenges that Andre (discouragements and disappointments), Lou (constant turnover of the congregation because of military reassignments), and Peter (the knowledge that millions have yet to even meet a Christian) face seem to engulf their perspectives, these men are reminded to stand
“What better use of my time than to make the love of Christ real and tangible in some small way? Pastoring isn’t just standing in the pulpit on Sunday morning.” —Lou Best, Church Planter Andre Lewis (MDiv ‘04), his wife, Heidi, and their children seek to bring the light of the gospel to their diverse and secular community near Seattle, Washington.
firm in the assurance that these real hindrances to the gospel will not ultimately triumph—for Christ has prevailed and does prevail against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. “I am learning that being a pastor is holding people’s hands when you think they should be able to walk on their own,” Andre shares. “While church planting exposed many of my weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures, it is in this setting that the Lord helped me better understand and apply the gospel of grace to myself. I needed that to happen in order to better minister to the congregation.” Andre goes on to say, “Although it doesn’t take much to disappoint, it also doesn’t take much to excite me. I have become the unofficial chaplain at my gym and am asked regularly to pray with people. Just few weeks ago, I served a 68-year-old man communion for the first time. He had tears streaming down his face and all he could say was, ‘Big day, big day for me.’ Indeed it was, for the Lord had saved him!” Lou Best echoes this aspect of learning service. He says, “I find myself doing things that I never studied in seminary: planting trees, mowing lawns, counseling on a front-porch swing, helping a wife put up decorative tiles in her kitchen, wiping out a nest of hornets from beneath a children’s swing—all are part of ministry to families when husbands are deployed. What better use of my time than to make the love of Christ real and tangible in some small way? Pastoring isn’t just standing in the pulpit on Sunday morning.” The hope of the gospel—for the masses of Mexico City, the soldiers and families of Fort Hood, and the gym members of greater Seattle—remains certain. And this is the big picture that Peter Dishman talks about. The bigger picture—which really only came to grip and orient my life in a significant way during my time at Covenant Seminary—is the story of Scripture. It is the glory of God’s creation, the horror of the fall, the scandal of redemption accomplished and applied, and the promise of consummation. When I think of God’s creation of man as his living image— made to reflect the community of the Trinity—I remember the humble dignity of the people that stream past my car at every intersection selling candy, newspapers, and many
other things. And when I think of the guilt and alienation of the garden and Babel’s tower reaching defiantly into the sky, I remember my own heart and the people crammed into the
andre & Heidi Lewis redeemer redmond church redmond, washington “Although it doesn’t take much to disappoint, it also doesn’t take much to excite me.” metro cars during peak hours as well as the folks hunched over books inside the Central Library on the UNAM campus. And as I think of God’s promises of redemption for a people who deserve to die and his gathering, saving, and perfecting of a people for himself, I remember his power to save not only individuals, but also a community of believers through the power of the cross and the resurrection. The big picture and the little picture remind me that God is at work by his grace and that there is hope for me as one called to live and proclaim that grace as a pastor. They drive me back to the Word and prayer and sacraments in gospel community because I can’t live without them—because they bring me Christ. I praise the Lord for that dangerous call because it fixes me in a place where I cannot but be constantly confronted by his gracious work and the story that he began and will surely finish. JOEL HATHAWAY Joel Hathaway (MDiv ’04), director of alumni and church relations, serves to encourage and sustain pastors and ministry leaders in their first five years of ministry and beyond. Graduates of the Seminary are invited to contact Joel for matters of prayer by e-mail at joel.hathaway@ covenantseminary.edu.
we’d love to hear from
What does your life and ministry look like since seminary? We’d love to hear all about it! Call Joel Hathaway at 1.800.264.8064, or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Some of the activities that are part of the Family Nurture program include free childcare at the Log Cabin on the Seminary campus.
Enriching lives and enhancing marriages Students at Covenant Seminary build solid foundations for ministry through activities facilitated by Student Services. The Family Nurture program helps connect individuals with other students and gives married couples the gift of time.
left: International women who are part of the Seminary community meet together each week. For those who need it, free childcare is available during this time.
COVENANT | Winter 2008
n a Friday night at 5:30, 20 children ages 6 months to 10 years fill the Log Cabin on the Covenant Theological Seminary campus. As a few children color at a pint-size table, a couple of others sit on the ground and push miniature cars along the lines of the plaid carpet, while still others play with rubber insects or shout with glee while chasing each other. In the back room, which features more toddler-friendly toys, leaders corral and direct older kids back into the main space so that younger children can sit on the floor and bang xylophones and pile blocks in boxes without getting stepped on. During their two-and-a-half hours at the Log Cabin, the children will play, snack, and interact under the supervision of six adults while their parents enjoy a date night that comes with free childcare. Hugely popular among seminary families, Parents Night Out is just one of the Family Nurture programs managed by the Student Services department that helps on- and off-campus families feel cared for and connected to the Seminary and each other. Practical Support
Because a significant number of students have families, childcare remains a constant and fundamental need—especially if both parents want to participate in seminary classes or other activities. Reinforcing Covenant Seminary’s commitment to train the family, spouses of full-time students may audit or take courses for credit free of charge by utilizing the Spouse Teamwork Scholarship. Classes such as Spiritual and Ministry Formation are extremely beneficial when couples take them together, therefore Student Services further makes this possible by offering free childcare. “We provide childcare as a way to welcome first-year students and help make it possible for husbands and wives to attend this class together,” says Family Nurture Coordinator Nina Walch. Student Jeff Nottingham (MDiv ’11) expresses his and wife Autumn’s appreciation for being able to learn together in this class while their kids were cared for; they still regularly benefit from the various opportunities for free childcare. “Our kids love the Log Cabin,” explains Jeff, referring to the homebase for childcare at Covenant Seminary. “They look forward to their time there, and Autumn and I really appreciate the level of interaction the staff has with our kids.” At a seminary picnic last summer—before the family’s move to St. Louis—the Nottingham children developed their own enthusiasm about Covenant Seminary when they saw lots of kids and their parents out playing together. “When Autumn and I were deciding which seminaries to apply to, we noticed that Covenant’s Web site was the only one that explicitly mentioned anything like the Family Nurture programs” explains Jeff. “This early message from the Seminary about caring for my whole family was no less than a key deciding point in our decision to come here—and it has been followed
up with genuine love and care for all of us.” “We want to reinforce that ministry training is a partnership—just like ministry life after graduation,” says Nina. Having been a Covenant Seminary student wife herself 12 years ago, Nina knows firsthand the opportunities and challenges associated with this God-given role. As she dreams of and plans ways by which the Family Nurture program can assist couples as they are trained to serve as ministry families, she offers insight into possible pitfalls and seeks to prepare them for what could be in store. “When my husband and I were here as students, I worked in Student Services full time, so I was connected and involved with my husband’s training. I felt valuable and very important to the equation,” shares Nina. From experience, she learned that how couples approach ministry while in seminary sets a tone for their future efforts. Because it’s often the husband’s vocational ministry calling that charts the course for the family’s direction, “we want women to have the tools to get them thinking about what their roles will be as ministry couples,” says Nina. “It’s essential that women know that they are a part of ministry life and work during the season of study and preparation so that they can have a smoother transition into the season of ministry that follows,” she explains. Making Connections and Fostering Community
Nina stresses that the Student Services department wants to care for and support families in numerous ways, so their care also includes the emotional health and well-being of students. One way to support new people involves helping them feel connected to the Seminary and each other. On-campus families naturally get to know each other while on the playground, in their apartment buildings, and through connecting at formal and informal on-campus events. Families who move to St. Louis from out of the area but live off campus may face challenges in getting connected. This can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. It is especially true in cases where the husband has decided to go to seminary and the wife is only lukewarm about the idea. “This may work for awhile,” says Nina, “but this scenario could fall apart at some point.” If a family does walk this tightrope, Student Services seeks to be the safety net. “There are a lot of challenges in seminary, and we want students—and especially their spouses—to find community so they can share their lives and support each other in the challenges,” says Nina. Given the growing Seminary population and a younger generation with needs different than their predecessors, Student Services recognizes that they alone can’t be “all things to all people.” To reach out and include as many people as possible, they’ve started thinking and caring for families in terms of “hubs.” “We want to meet students where they are in their own communities and to have their own network of support,” Nina explains. This helps when students have
practical needs that must be met—such as meals after the birth of a baby. Many times someone in their community or another seminary friend will take the initiative to coordinate preparation and delivery of meals, and each family on the receiving end feels abundantly blessed and cared for. Currently Student Services has created 10 hubs based on locations around St. Louis, such as North City, South City, and West County, and around the Oxford Hills, Gulf Drive, and Atherton apartment complexes. Student Services recruits a leader to host a dessert event, and they ask the wife to invite the women in their hub to the Women’s Autumn Brunch, hosted by Kathy Chapell (wife of Seminary President Dr. Bryan Chapell) and other faculty members’ wives. These personal touches can give people the nudge they need to step out and embrace their new environment, helping new women start the process of making friends. Student Services also provides leaders with other ideas to help new families assimilate. “We want to help off-campus families—especially wives— find their own connection to campus and be involved as much as they are able.” Sometimes, this means thinking creatively. One off-campus family set up a schedule where once a week the wife brought their three children up to the newly overhauled playground at the Seminary. This allowed her to foster friendships with on-campus families. At lunchtime, her husband joined the family for a picnic. Nurturing Individuals
Though wives and family needs are a significant portion of the Family Nurture focus, Students Services also recognizes the need to minister to women in general—both single and married— who are pursuing degrees. Because 80 percent of the student body is male, women tend to be the ones who feel left out. They naturally need more opportunities to make connections and feel supported. Recently, Dr. Tasha Chapman, adjunct professor of educational ministries, became the associate dean of student
life to help mentor female students and spouses of students at the Seminary as they prepare for leadership in ministry and to encourage relationships with local churches for further investment in the development of women students. She also works with the dean of students in the design of co-curricular programs to build up the seminary community. “Our students
“The heart of our office is to be sure that students and their families are connected and cared for.... we want to help them use their time in seminary to its fullest.” lead very full lives; they often juggle multiple jobs with school, family, and ministry responsibilities,” Dr. Chapman reflects. “Therefore, our challenge is to encourage healthy community and personal growth while always being aware of students’ busy schedules. My focus is to help provide unique opportunities for students to make the most of the time they have with each other and with the faculty outside the classroom, which results in deepening the learning inside the classroom.” Nina explains that though the Family Nurture program has many areas where it can improve, the heart of the office is to be sure that students and their families are connected and cared for,” she says. “The stresses of seminary can take their toll on marriages and families, and we want students to know they are not alone in facing these difficulties,” she says. “On the positive side, we want to help them use their time here to its fullest and make as many educational resources available to the whole family as possible. The family that partners during this time of training is more likely to partner in their future ministry, whatever it is.” Even families who don’t attend many events or take advantage of the services offered to them through the Family Nurture program say during their graduate exit interviews that they know the Seminary cares about them and their families simply by the presence of these programs. For the Student Services team, that means “mission accomplished.” JACKIE FOGAS Jackie Fogas serves as the senior copy editor and special projects coordinator in the Public Relations office at Covenant Seminary. Her husband, Michael, is pursuing an MDiv and will graduate in May 2009.
far left: Male students gather for “Brats, Bonding, and Brotherhood,” an event organized by Student Services to foster connections with professors and one another. left: Student Services staff members Susan Bayer (left) and Tomoko Kabeya (MAC ‘06) both participate in the International Women’s Fellowship and seek to support female students and international students and spouses.
COVENANT | Winter 2008
How You Can Make an Eternal Difference in the World Today Every year Covenant Seminary works to
Spouse Teamwork Scholarships
provide financial assistance to students
Realizing that ministry most often involves spouses and even entire families, Covenant Seminary is committed to equipping spouses for effective ministry. One way this is made possible is through the Spouse Teamwork Scholarship, which provides 100% tuition scholarships to spouses of full-time students. (Exception:
who are called to full-time ministry. Donor dollars fund essential and even life-changing scholarships for these future leaders.
Spouses pursuing MAC degrees receive 50% scholarships.)
Founders’ Church Leadership Awards •
The Founders’ Church Leadership Award—which provides 100% tuition scholarships to Master of Divinity (MDiv) students in their senior year—was established to increase the number of students who enter vocational ministry with little or no debt. Founders’ investors are paired with individual students to walk beside them and hear firsthand how their support impacts the students’ lives and future ministries. This award is given to a few students in their last year of seminary who have shown excellent potential for church leadership.
The award allows you as a donor to: • •
Connect with the student who directly benefits from your investment. See firsthand how your investment in the gospel is being lived out in the life and ministry of a future pastor.
Scholarship Funding Opportunities As enrollment grows at Covenant Seminary, so does the need for scholarships to support the training of those preparing to lead God’s people. The prayer of the Seminary board, faculty, and staff is that God would raise up additional individuals and churches to partner with us in providing for the financial needs of the next generation of Christ-centered, gospelcentered, Reformed pastors.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: If you are interested in finding out how you can encourage spiritually and support financially students and their spouses who are training for future ministry, please call 1.800.264.8064 and ask for John Ranheim or Pat Smith, our directors of development. You may also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org or pat.smith@ covenantseminary.edu.
As a Founders’ investor, you will: • • • • • •
Receive your student’s photo and family story. Enjoy a lunch meeting with your student. Receive quarterly updates and prayer requests from your student. Receive an invitation to a graduation reception for Founders Award students. Receive a “book of the year” as our gift to you. Enjoy an opportunity to join other Founders Award donors and Covenant Seminary President Dr. Bryan Chapell and his family on one of our highly anticipated annual retreat getaways.
special note: Through the Founders Church Leadership
Awards and three other scholarships, 31 MDiv students are receiving full-tuition scholarships this year.
Janie and Alan Waldecker (MDiv ‘87) [children not pictured]
Phyllis and Gary Waldecker (MDiv ‘80) and family Tom Waldecker (BDiv ‘56/MDiv ‘72) and wife Judith
A Legacy of Grace: From Root to Fruit
These Waldecker men have all followed God’s call to vocational ministry. They are the first family from which two generations have been trained at Covenant Seminary.
f ever it seems one was born to follow in his father’s footsteps, it was Tom Waldecker (BDiv ’56/MDiv ’72). Born in 1927 and raised in Lemmon, South Dakota, Tom comes from a long line of farmers. “I grew up outside of the church—not in a Christian family,” Tom says. “While I was serving in the Navy, my younger brother was killed in a hunting accident. As a result, my parents began attending the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC) in our town. After the Navy, I attended church to please my mother but had no intention of making it a habit. Yet by God’s grace, I was converted.” Tom, who had felt a call to ministry, tried farming but was not content. In 1954, Tom enrolled in a seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When that seminary closed, Tom, with the recommendation of professor G. Douglas Young, found his way to Covenant Theological Seminary. Having already completed two years of studies, he spent his last year of study under the teaching of men such as J. Oliver Buswell Jr., R. Laird Harris, Wilber Wallis, John Sanderson, and Robert Rayburn—men, who, in Tom’s recollection, “were impacting and meaningful.” “After graduation, I thought I might like to try a churchplanting situation,” Tom explains. He talked with a leader in the BPC (Columbus Synod) who suggested a church in Pinellas Park, Florida, that needed an organizing pastor. Tom and his first wife, Lillian—a gifted musician who died of cancer in 1993—moved to Florida where Tom was ordained as the founding pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (Grace PC) in 1958. In addition to his regular pastoral duties at Grace PC, Tom was in charge of summer camps and youth activities in his presbytery, securing speakers for the camps and conferences. One of the speakers, also a friend, asked Tom if he would consider the pastorate of a small church in Minco, Oklahoma. “Rev. Kyle Thurman said to me, ‘Tom, you grew up on a farm. Well, we have a place
COVENANT | Winter 2008
for you with farmers, and we need someone who understands their way of life,’ ” Tom recalls. So after 13 years in Florida, the Waldeckers moved to Oklahoma, where Tom pastored the First Reformed Presbyterian Church for 7 years. By this time the Waldeckers had four children—Sharon, Gary, Janice, and Alan. They left Oklahoma when Tom accepted a call to Grandcote Reformed Presbyterian Church in Coulterville, Illinois, about an hour from St. Louis, Missouri. Although Tom’s career path branched out from his family tradition, both of his sons, Gary and Alan, followed in the ministerial footsteps of their father. Whether or not Tom’s vocational choices were considered “going against tradition,” the choices of his sons certainly did. In many cases, children of ministers, having firsthand experience of the challenges of a life in vocational ministry, are reluctant to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. Still, both Gary and Alan received their Master of
In many cases, children of ministers, having firsthand experience of the challenges of a life in vocational ministry, are reluctant to follow in their father’s footsteps. Divinity (MDiv) degrees from Covenant Seminary, and both have gone on to careers in vocational ministry. “While I’m not exactly sure when Alan started feeling a call to such ministry, Gary wanted to be a missionary at least since the fourth grade,” Tom notes. Gary Waldecker (MDiv ’80) became the first secondgeneration student at Covenant Seminary when he enrolled in 1976. He admits to being shaped by many of the same men who were instrumental in training his father—especially John Sanderson. After graduation, Gary joined Mission to the World (MTW) and helped to plant churches in Santiago, Chile, and
on the Chilean coast. He and his wife, Phyllis, have four children: Micah, Seth, Andrea, and Audrey. “It is very easy for church planters to be so focused on the task at hand that they have a difficult time stepping back and looking at the big picture of what is happening,” Gary explains. “I wish that when I was a new missionary, somebody with experience and insight had come to visit me—not just for a weekend, but for a couple of months. That way I could both hear what the person had to say and also see how he/she put his/ her words into practice.” In 1995, Gary became the regional director for MTW South America. He has more than 27 years of missionary experience and has pursued doctoral studies in both missiology and organizational structures. He currently serves as a strategist for MTW missionaries throughout Latin America. Speaking about his current position, Gary says, “You might call me a consultant. I try to spend enough time at each churchplanting site to learn from those who have been working there by joining with them in their work, prayer, and dialogue.” Tom’s son Alan Waldecker (MDiv ’87) entered Covenant Seminary in 1984. From 1995 to 2002, he planted churches in Waldorf, Maryland, and West Des Moines, Iowa, after which he served as a senior pastor in Concord, California. Then he and wife Janie and their six children moved to London to serve in the church planting movement of the International Presbyterian Church (IPC), in conjunction with World Harvest Mission. Reflecting on those early days in London, Alan draws insight from J. R. R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit. “Tolkien said that an adventure is something you come back from—there and back again,” Alan explains. “A quest however, is something from which you never really return—but if you do, you are so changed that you are never the same person. We started our quest nearly three years ago; we pulled up stakes, left California, and set out to pursue a way to reach post-modern people in Western Europe with the gospel. I guess by some people’s standards that makes us missionaries. I don’t feel like a missionary. But then, I don’t know what a missionary feels like. I just love young people.” Describing his current responsibilities, Alan says, “The main job I have is directing the church-planting efforts of the IPC. My job is to recruit potential church planters, find funding for them, provide training and oversight, and oversee and mentor them through the process. I also help to develop a vision and strategy for planting new works across Europe. At present we have several church plants. There are two in Romania, one in Azerbaijan, one in Belgium, one in Italy, and two in England.” Spiritual conditions in Europe are usually bleak and sometimes utterly dark. “Europe is like a spiritual desert,” Alan explains. “Many people have heard of Jesus, but almost no one has ever heard the gospel. Most Americans could drive an hour in every direction from their homes and find scores of churches that would feed their souls. Not so here. In America, finding a church is like eating at a smorgasbord. There are so many options, you
could wear yourself out just sampling all the food. In Europe, the matter is more like, ‘Will we even eat?’ The need is huge.” As patriarch Tom thinks of his most enjoyable ministry, he says it was in Coulterville. “That’s partly because by then I had more experience and also because I felt it was a very productive ministry,” Tom shares. “It is a small town, and there was
“All of the churches in town were small and often without a pastor, so sometimes I was the pastor for the whole town.” not any chance of having a mega-church, that’s for sure. All of the churches in town were small and often without a pastor, so sometimes I was the pastor for the whole town.” In the latter years in Coulterville, Tom began spending summer vacation time working with Children’s Ministry International, Inc. “We saw an ad in the paper about CMI saying that they would do a children’s workshop for teachers,” Tom remembers. “We invited them to Coulterville, during which time they asked if we could help them out in the summer. They were doing all of the MTW summer conferences. We agreed to give it a try.” After a couple of summers, he and late wife Lillian were asked to consider working full time with CMI. So, after 14 years in Coulterville, Tom resigned his pastorate and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he began his work with CMI. With 33 years of solo pastoral experience behind him, Tom was employed by a ministry aimed exclusively at children. He says, “I enjoy the writing aspects of this ministry. We have finished writing lessons covering all of the Catechism for Young Children. All of the lessons are visualized for the flannel board.” Tom has also written a three-volume series based on Christian character qualities and a three-volume series on family devotions, in addition to other resources. Judith, Tom’s second wife (they married in 1994), says, “With CMI and MTW, we have been to France, Germany, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, and Greece. We have also conducted conferences for children in Holland and in Peru.” Tom explains that in each of these places, they teach the children so that their parents are free to attend the sessions that MTW or other mission agencies conduct for their encouragement and fellowship. “We get a lot positive feedback from missionary families about the benefits to their children,” Tom says. “I have ministered to more people through CMI than I ever did in 30 years in the pastorate.” Tom sums up his experience saying, “For me, ministry has been really enjoyable. I have never doubted whether or not I should be in the pastorate or with CMI.” Adding her thoughts, Judith smiles and says, “And that’s the way it should be.” JOEL HATHAWAY Joel Hathaway (MDiv ’04), director of alumni and church relations, serves to encourage and sustain pastors and ministry leaders in their first five years of ministry and beyond. Graduates of the Seminary are invited to contact Joel for matters of prayer by e-mail at email@example.com.
SEMINARY news & events Faculty News Dr. Anthony Bradley, assistant professor of apologetics and systematic theology and director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute, has been appointed to the Francis Schaeffer Chair of Apologetics at the World Journalism Institute for the 2008–09 academic year. The World Journalism Institute, which holds courses and conferences to equip and encourage Christian journalists in America’s newsrooms, is located in New York City.
PROFESSORs’ SPEAKING SCHEDULES Jerram Barrs Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture; Resident Scholar of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute thursdays, nov.–dec. St. Louis,
MO; Old Orchard Church (PCA). Women’s Bible study. TOPIC: “The Good Life: Law and Grace.” nov. 21–23 Seattle, WA;
CrossPoint Church. Conference on spiritual formation. dec. 7, 14 Kirkwood, MO;
Dr. David Chapman, associate professor of New Testament and archaeology, has published Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion (Mohr Siebeck 2008). In addition, he contributed notes for the book of Hebrews in the recently published ESV Study Bible (Crossway 2008) and served as associate editor for New Testament archaeology on the project. Dr. Nelson Jennings, professor of world mission, and Dr. Daniel Zink (not pictured), associate professor of practical theology, led a successful mission trip with nine students to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in late June. Dr. Jennings and the World Mission office are preparing for an on-campus emphasis on China in March 2009. Dr. Robert Peterson, professor of systematic theology, has edited Anointed with the Spirit and Power: A Biblical Theology of Holy Spirit Empowerment, the second volume in the Explorations in Biblical Theology series (P&R Publishers). The book was released in October. Dr. Peterson’s book Election and Free Will was the first in this series.
Grace Presbyterian Church of St. Louis. Preaching. jan. 5–9, 2009 St. Louis, MO;
Covenant Seminary. Teaching Doctor of Ministry class. TOPIC: “Apologetic Preaching in the Modern World.” jan. 16–18, 2009 Key Largo, FL.
Men’s retreat. Teaching. jan. 23–26, 2009 Washington, DC; Grace Presbyterian Church. Conference on reaching contemporary culture. Teaching and preaching. feb. 13–14, 2009 Rochester, MN;
The Kahler Grand Hotel. L’Abri Fellowship conference.
Hans Bayer Professor of New Testament march 9–13, 2009 Riga, Latvia; Baltic Reformed Theological Seminary. TOPIC: “Hermeneutics and Exegesis” (Colossians).
Anthony Bradley Assistant Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology; Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute nov. 13–15 Atlanta, GA; Omni
Hotel at CNN Center. Christian Education and Publications Making
Visible God’s Invisible Kingdom discipleship conference. TOPIC: “Preaching From a Kingdom Perspective.”
Bryan Chapell President and Professor of Practical Theology nov. 13 Grove City, PA; Grove City
College. Speaking in chapel and giving a lecture. nov. 15 Quarryville, PA; Faith
Reformed Presbyterian Church. Preaching. jan. 7–10, 2009 San Antonio,
TX; Marriott Plaza San Antonio. Fellowship of Evangelical Seminary Presidents conference. jan. 11, 2009 San Antonio, TX;
Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Preaching. jan. 24–25, 2009 Midlothian, VA.
and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology nov. 9, dec. 21 Kirkwood, MO; Grace Presbyterian Church of St. Louis. Preaching. nov. 14–16 Juarez, Mexico; San
Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Teaching. TOPIC: “The Devotional Life of Worship Leaders.”
Nelson Jennings Professor of World Mission jan. 25–26 St. Charles,
MO, Faith United Methodist (Sunday); and St. Louis, MO, Memorial Presbyterian Church (Monday). “Perspectives” class. Lecturing. feb. 11–15, 2009 Coral Gables,
FL; Granada Presbyterian Church. Missions conference.
Preaching at a conference. feb. 8, 2009 Birmingham, AL;
Covenant Presbyterian Church. Preaching.
Professor of Systematic Theology
sundays, nov. 2008–feb. 2009 Columbia, MO;
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Archaeology nov. 19–22 Boston, MA; Westin
Waterfront Hotel. American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting. PAPER: “Roman Remains at Decapolis Abila.” nov. 21–25 Boston, MA; Hynes
Convention Center. Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting. PAPER: “The RomanByzantine Transition at Decapolis Abila and the Rise of Christianity in the Transjordan.”
Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Teaching adult Sunday school on Christ’s saving work. Preaching on 2 Peter.
Richard Winter Professor of Practical Theology feb. 6–7, 2009 Austin,
TX; Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Growth in Grace conference. Speaking. feb. 8, 2009 Austin, TX; All Saints
Mark Dalbey Vice President for Student Services, Dean of Students,
Seeking Vice President for Business Administration
By His Grace, For His Glory Campaign Closeout
Covenant Seminary seeks to fill this chief financial and business officer position, which reports to the President through the Chief Operations Officer, as early as December 15, 2008. Primary responsibilities include: all financial matters, benefits, legal compliance, information technologies, facilities, grounds, and auxiliary enterprises. Qualifications: master’s degree in related field; related experience; proven track record. Qualified applicants should send a letter of application and resumé to the Chief of Staff, Covenant Theological Seminary, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141. Pay is commensurate with qualifications and experience.
December 30 marks the close of our By His Grace, For His Glory capital campaign. If you have made a commitment to the campaign, please ensure that we receive your gift by this date. If you have not yet given but wish to partner with us in this Kingdom endeavor, you can still participate. We are grateful to God for his abundant blessing on this campaign. It has borne much fruit already as we finish up our first semester in Founders Hall, which is a result of generous giving by donors. Please continue to pray for the institution as we seek to teach and serve another generation of ministry leaders who will take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Births & Adoptions
Moves & Transitions
Jessie and Sara Mersfelder Bartley (MDiv ’03) welcome Jane Grace, born May 20, 2008.
George Crocker (MDiv ’84) from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Opelousas, Louisiana, to Salem Reformed Church (CREC) in Rome, Georgia.
Executive Editor David Wicker
Jim Midberry (MDiv ’76) from senior pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, as chaplain with Life Choice Hospice.
Editor Jackie Fogas
Kyle Perret (MDiv ’05) from minister of youth at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Georgia, to assistant pastor of Cascade Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon.
Design and Production Libby Lothman
Michael (MAC ’99, MDiv ’02) and Sherry (MAC ’00) Coggin welcome Brady Michael, born February 7, 2008. Matthew and Carolyn Lacy Cook (MAC ’03) welcome twins Carson William and Caden Matthew born January 18, 2008. Howard Davis (MDiv ’02 ) and wife Melissa welcome Haven Ballard, born June 2, 2008. John Kent Dawson (MDiv ’03) and wife Rebekah welcome Kenneth Elliot, born May 23, 2008. Otis Pickett (MATS ’06) and wife Julie welcome Martha Jane Caroline, born May 5, 2008.
Jamie Peterson (ThM ’04) from assistant pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, to church planter in Frisco, Texas.
Jon Price (MDiv ’06) and wife Meagan welcome Joshua Andrew, born March 31, 2007.
We Want To Hear From You! More information, longer news updates, and other alumni news items are available on the Alumni Portal at www.covenantseminary.edu/ connect/contact or through the Covenant Seminary Alumni Facebook group.
David (MDiv ’03) and Jennifer (MATS ’03) Rapp welcome Stella, born July 1, 2008.
Congratulations & Updates Larry Doughan (MDiv ’89, DMin ’03) had his book E-mails To: Rail published recently. Larry is the assistant pastor of Colfax Center Presbyterian Church in Holland, Iowa. Rob (MDiv ’99) and Tunde (GC ’99) Futo are nearing full launch of an online film club notebook containing articles and film synopses in Hungarian. Rob and Tunde are missionaries in Hungary, where Tunde also leads a choir ministry. Dr. Mark Quay (MDiv ’96) is a presbyter with the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the mission to North America of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, serving as the dean of the Anglican School of Ministry–Little Rock.
CORRECTION (FROM SUMMER 2008 ISSUE) David P. Smith received a PhD in historical theology, not a doctorate of education as previously printed. He and wife Tracey have three children.
Don’t forget to register for these and other upcoming Lifetime of Ministry courses at www.covenantseminary.edu: • • •
Worship in Today’s Church, Jan. 5–9 Small Group Ministry, Jan. 20–23 Women in Ministries, Feb. 27–28
Managing Editor Stacey Fitzgerald
Assistant Copy Editor Rick Matt
Editorial Contributors Jerram Barrs Jackie Fogas Joel Hathaway Photo Contributors Lou Best Peter Dishman Lisa Hessel Kramer family Andre Lewis Libby Lothman
Rick Matt A. J. Poelarends Beth Ann Stein
Kelly Park A. J. Poelarends Beth Ann Stein Brett Steen Waldecker family
Covenant Theological Seminary 12330 Conway Road St. Louis, Missouri 63141 Tel: 314.434.4044 Fax: 314.434.4819 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®, ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Volume 23, Number 4. ©2008
News from the J. Oliver Buswell Jr. Library •
In the fall, Buswell Library began providing self-paced guided tours of the library using iPods. “Stations” corresponding to segments of the tour have special signage and can be visited in sequence or however a student prefers. Eventually, specialized instructional “tours” will be added to to help students with research for their particular degree program assignments or as they search in specific subject areas and need to use specialized databases, reference sets, the new Curriculum Lab, or other resources.
Also in the fall, The Scribe, a personalized mentoring service that offers students writing assistance (especially with term papers) came under the Library’s oversight and underwent a transition. The new area of service involves assisting students for whom English is a second language. The Tait Rare Book Room “houses” The Scribe.
Covenant is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, the Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America. The purpose of Covenant Seminary is to train servants of the triune God to walk with God, to interpret and communicate God’s Word, and to lead God’s people.
Covenant Theological Seminary 12330 Conway Road St. Louis, MO 63141
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Prepared by God for Works of Service Many believers experience moments in their Christian walks when they look back at the winding pathways of their lives and see with stunning clarity how God has been preparing them for specific works of service even without their knowing it. For Chris Bryan (MDiv ’09), who is currently training to be a chaplain with the U.S. Army after having served as a teacher and lay minister in Ecuador and Taiwan, the guiding influence of God’s hand in his life is now especially obvious—though he admits that this was not always the case. “I was raised in the Roman Catholic church, but I was never a very religious person,” Chris explains. “Once I completed the process of confirmation, I basically stopped attending church. In my teenage years, I fell in love with biology and found scientific naturalism to be a persuasive explanation for life and the universe.” Yet, even then, the Lord apparently had plans for Chris. “The year I turned 19, I was working at a Boy Scouts [of America] camp and two friends who had recently become Christians shared the gospel with me,” Chris remembers. “I was only willing to listen to them because I had already known them for years. I wrestled with what they told me for months before I finally submitted to my need for Christ as my Lord and Savior. Looking back, I can now see how even then God was using the circumstances of my life to draw me to him. It was a work that began before my birth and before the creation of the world.” Chris’s newfound faith led him to serve two years on the ministry team with the Baptist Student Union at Emporia State University in Kansas, where he also met his future wife, Cris (MAEM ’09), as both of them studied to become secondary school teachers. Chris and Cris married during the summer before their senior year, and after graduation eventually moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to teach at the InterAmerican Academy, an independent, nonprofit day school. It was here that the Bryans first attended a PCA church, which was run by missionaries who were graduates of Covenant Seminary. Sensing a call to further ministry, the two then moved on to Hsinchu City, Taiwan, to minister to American-born Chinese students. “The Lord blessed this ministry in unexpected ways,” Chris recalls. “In a matter of months, we found ourselves laypastoring a small congregation. God used this experience to prompt us to seek seminary training.”
Cris (left) and Chris Bryan will both graduate this May.
Chris’s participation in a chaplaincy-focused small group on campus is just one factor that helped the Bryans confirm Chris’s call to serve as an Army chaplain. “In looking at our time in Taiwan,” he says, “we realized that the expatriates to whom we ministered had many reasons for moving there, but the one commonality was that they had all gone looking for something. Whatever that was, we knew that the gospel contained the only truth that could satisfy their longings. We saw many parallels between them and soldiers stationed far from home.” In the spring of 2007, Chris was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chaplain Candidate Program. He has served with the Missouri National Guard and spent much of the past two summers attending the Chaplain Basic Officers Leadership Course at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. He has had regular opportunities to minister the gospel to soldiers and their families and to see even more clearly where God is leading him when he finishes seminary. “Over the past five years, the biggest lesson we’ve learned is that we are insufficient to minister to anyone apart from the church,” Chris reflects. “Seminary has revealed more about who I am, which in turn has made me increasingly thankful that God should love and choose to use someone like me in his Kingdom.” NOTE: Chris is one of this year’s recipients of Covenant Seminary’s Founders’ Church Leadership Award, which supports the training of future church leaders by providing 100% tuition scholarships to select senior students preparing for pastoral ministry. See page 18 to learn more about this scholarship.
Rick matt Rick Matt (MATS ’05) serves as associate director of public relations for Covenant Seminary, where he writes and edits a variety of print and electronic materials to support the Seminary’s mission of training pastors and ministry leaders for Christ’s church.
Covenant is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The purpose of Covenant Seminary is to glorify...