VOL. 10, NO. 4 ■ JULY 2013
HERALDING NEWS FROM NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY
Faculty research offers a faithful response VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN HAS LONG BEEN VIEWED AS A MORAL ISSUE with scores of research that take a sociological approach. However, no resources address
Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt professor of theology & social ethics
Dr. Nelson Grimm director of field education & professor of applied theology
the issue from a theological perspective and most are limited to the North American context—until now. Growing out of 25 years of study, teaching, and practical experience, Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt, professor of theology and social ethics, applies a theology of the cross to shine light on the misuse of Christian tradition as it relates to violence against women and to propose a cohesive church response to the problem. In her book The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls (working title), to be released spring 2014, she investigates the underlying causes of gendercide as a common thread that has ties to global issues such as poverty, education, and disease. This book, written for pastors, ministry leaders, and seminary students, goes beyond exploring the issue as a criminal act to proposing that violence against women is, in fact, a confessional issue for the church. She notes, “It is important for the church to examine its thinking about issues regarding violence against women. We collude with evil, on the scale of the holocaust, by being passive on this issue.” Thus, Gerhardt provides instruction in how to think theologically in concrete ways about the church’s response. Next on the docket for Gerhardt is writing a chapter for a tribute to Dr. Paul Livermore on orthodoxy and orthopraxis—See How They Love One Another: A Short History of Medieval and Reformation Poor Relief and Its Significance for the Church Today.
Classes in Albany
A LIFE-LONG COMMITMENT TO HELP PARISHONERS BE SUCCESSFUL IN LIFE is the impetus for Dr. Nelson Grimm’s current research on the role of spirituality and prayer in personal resilience. This focus is part of a broader project to develop an online data collection system to help pastors and church leaders assess the spiritual health and vitality of the people in their faith communities. One of several areas of study such as motivations for volunteering, variables in influencing forgiveness, and church selection criteria, his current focus looks at personal resilience when people face traumatic life events. By better understanding the variables that contribute to one’s ability to recover from life’s challenges pastors can help people deal with issues that are outside of their control. Grimm, director of field education and professor of applied theology, is developing a survey instrument that goes well beyond current measures of spirituality such as church attendance to gather data on the personal practices of parishoners around the nature of prayer in which they engage, their concept of God (cognitive function) and their God image (experience of God), their learned response of resilience, and their motivation for worship. With a greater understanding of the role of such variables pastoral care can be enhanced— ministry to the bereaved, the unemployed, those going through family crisis, and those suffering from illness has an expanded resource. Equally important for Grimm is the way these findings can demonstrate to a non-Christian population that the Christian faith is important to their resilience.
Faculty research offers faithful response (continued) THE TEMPTATION IS ALL TOO COMMON FOR BUSY PASTORS: DECIDING ON A MESSAGE OR POSITION AND THEN LOOKING FOR A TEXT OF SCRIPTURE TO BACK IT UP. This practice of “text-jacking” raises concern for Dr. Nijay Gupta, assistant professor of biblical theology and exegesis. His approach to addressing the issue is evident in his recently released commentary on Colossians (Smyth and Helwys, 2013) and in the development of his current project that focuses on Paul’s theology of the redemption of the mind. Rather than “plundering the text” his study promotes using scripture as a source of reflection, to slow down in scripture reading as he looks at God's work of salvation. In an effort to build a bridge between church and academe Gupta takes heady esoteric concepts and translates them for ready application into pastoral messages—including diagrams and charts that take the reader beyond a “this is interesting” approach to exegesis to a greater understanding of salvation as a process involving the whole self.
Dr. Nijay Gupta assistant professor of biblical theology & exegesis.
Likewise Gupta’s recent articles in the Lexham Bible Dictionary, a project by Logos Bible Software, focus on “New Testament Ethics,” “Christology” and “The New Perspective on Paul.” Their extensive use of links to outside sources and other information make them a useful resource for both seminarians and clergy. Keep track of Gupta’s research at his blog site Crux Sola.
CULTURAL LITERACY IS A HALLMARK OF THE NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY EXPERIENCE. It grows out of a clear understanding of the influences that shape our religious traditions and understanding. The work of Dr. Barry Hamilton, theological librarian and professor of historical and contemporary theology, sheds light on the framing of theological models during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While seemingly far removed from the dynamics at work in shaping the current church, there are some significant parallels. Hamilton explores how Methodism faced down serious challenges to its authority and authenticity and how the political factors of the day entered into the development of a comprehensive and systematic theology— the exposition of Christian doctrine for Methodism that would be used in ministerial education. Based on the writings of Richard Watson, specifically his four-part Theological Institutes, Hamilton unpacks how Methodism came to thrive in the context of the Established Church and how Watson was able to remove suspicion that the Methodists were threatening the doctrines of the historic English Church. Hamilton takes on the current question of why early British Methodism passed over John Wesley as a theological model and turned to seventeenth and eighteenth century Latitudinarians such as Watson for their models.
Dr. Barry Hamilton theological librarian & professor of historical & contemporary theology
WHAT IF YOU COULD TALK ABOUT SPIRITUAL THINGS WITHOUT ALIENATING SOMEONE Dr. Rebecca Letterman associate professor of spiritual formation ELSE—to discuss central spiritual issues without the boundaries of tradition-specific jargon? What would happen if there was a common language that supersedes theological terminology that can get in the way? In an increasingly multicultural world a new kind of language that can be used to communicate biblical truth is called for. There needs to be a way to talk about what God wants for this world and a means for wrestling with the nature of human and Christian spirituality. Such a language paradigm is the culmination of the collaborative work of Dr. Rebecca Letterman, associate professor of spiritual formation, and Ruth Correll, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Based on the distillation of Adrian van Kaam’s systematic approach to formative spirituality Letterman clarifies concepts, theories and has created an extensive glossary of terms that assist seminarians, clergy, and parishoners alike as they learn to connect the ”comfort zones” of various faith traditions. The biblical narrative as shared by Correll provides examples that root van Kaam’s theory in Scripture. Letterman has also been engaged in poetry writing as a way of listening into the ministry. Ready for publication this year is Listened to Life: Poems for the Women in Genesis, a collection of over 100 poems that will feature the illustrations of artist Scot Bennett, professor of art at Roberts Wesleyan College.
BEING HEAVEN BOUND IS MORE THAN JUST DISTRACTING, IT MISCONSTRUES THE REAL VOCATION OF A CHRISTIAN. So argued Dr. J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, in a 2006 article that gave rise to his new book by the same name, A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology. Having always been interested in eschatology as a means to understand God’s purposes for the world, Middleton is particularly mindful of the need for the church to have a clear and systematic statement of God’s intent to redeem creation. Written primarily for pastors, theological students, and educated church people Middleton unpacks the biblical roots of this teaching and how it motivates us to live holistically, embodying the kingdom now instead for yearning for heaven hereafter. Employing key Old Testament and New Testament texts he makes the case that the “ultimate blessed hope for the believer is not an otherworldly heaven,” as one reviewer notes, but that it is “participation in a new heaven and earth brought into fullness under the transformation of God’s kingdom.” The release date for the book is late fall 2013. Middleton’s upcoming research includes the preparation of a chapter for the Livermore tribute on orthodoxy and orthopraxis titled, Does God Come to Praise Job or to Bury Him? The Function of YHWH’s Second Speech from the Whirlwind.
Dr. J. Richard Middleton professor of biblical worldview & exegesis
BEGINNING THIS JANUARY, NORTHEASTERN SEMINARY WILL OFFER GRADUATE-LEVEL COURSES toward Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees in the Capital Region. Part of its expanding distance-education program, the courses will be offered via video conference, linking the community of learners in the greater Albany area with Northeastern’s Rochester campus through live video feed. www.algera.com
Interactive video classroom
The Seminary anticipates offering classes at a local college and utilizing PolyCom interactive video technology which features multidirectional streaming. This technology allows professors to teach from either the Rochester or Albany location and engage students through lecture and multimedia resources at both sites. Students at both campuses will be able to interact with each other as well. This classroom format will also incorporate on-site small group interactions and periodic chapel services to enhance community and provide instruction in spiritual formation, a distinctive of the NES education.
Through the use of video conferencing, NES has successfully launched distance-education initiatives in Williamsville and Syracuse, N.Y. “Our recent expansion across central and western New York and the upcoming course offerings in Albany are part of our commitment to make a seminary education more accessible across New York State,” NES Vice President and Dean Doug Cullum said. “It reflects the Seminary’s vision to prepare increasing numbers of theologically
reflective, spiritually formed, and professionally competent persons for ministry. We are pleased to partner with local ministries that share a vision for serving the members of the greater Albany community.” NES has been authorized by the Association of Theological Schools Commission on Accreditation to offer the full Master of Arts degree and a majority of the credits toward a Master of Divinity degree to students via distance learning. Under the current model, the remaining classes in the program are available to students at the Rochester campus. For a complete listing of informational meetings visit www.nes.edu or call 1.800.777.4792.
If you’re looking for a way to enrich your vocation or meet professional development requirements, the following classes will be offered this fall. For graduates this is an opportunity to enjoy the alumni benefit of auditing a class for only $50. Classes occur one night a week on Mondays: Scriptural Models of Leadership (Dr. Nijay Gupta) - Forms of Christian leadership, though beginning within ancient Israel and the earliest Church, have continued to develop throughout the long history of the Church. The Scriptures themselves provide models and norms for the practice of Christian leadership. Applying these models and norms in contemporary culture presents significant challenges. This course will explore several topics in addressing those challenges: considering what the scriptural models and norms really are, understanding the emergence and rationale behind the various
post-biblical models found in different Christian churches, determining the needs of present ministry context, and assessing gifts and graces in relation to both the scriptural models and present leadership setting. 2 credits Strategic Planning for Churches and Nonprofit Organizations (Robert Shoesmith) - This course reviews the reasons why churches and nonprofit organizations should embrace strategic planning as a way of improving their performance. It presents an effective strategic planning process that has been successfully used by leaders of nonprofit organizations. The course is comprised of a set of concepts, procedures, and tools that can help leaders enhance organizational achievement. Overall, the course is based on the premise that leaders of churches and nonprofit organizations must be effective strategists in order to fulfill their missions. 2 credits Life, Theology, and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt) - Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a significant 20th century theologian, pastor, prophet, and martyr. This course examines Bonhoeffer’s response to Nazism from a historical and theological perspective. The primary areas of study include: a description and analysis of Bonhoeffer’s hermeneutic and ethical reflections on the significance of his call to discipleship and on his perennial question, “Who is Christ for us today?” His spirituality will also be discussed as a foundation for his ethics. 3 credits See full course listings here. For credit: $454 per credit / for audit: $150 per course ($50 for alumni). Contact Faith Sharp at email@example.com or 585.594.6623 or Diana Brunson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585.594.6802.
Monday, September 9 Thursday, October 10 Tuesday, October 29
4:30—6 p.m. 6—7:30 p.m. 6—7:30 p.m.
August 4-7, 2013 For the third year the Rock Talk Pavilion at Kingdom Bound Festival will be the home base for youth ministry seminars presented by Northeastern Seminary. Designed to equip pastors and lay leaders serving young people, the following seminars will be led by members of the seminary community and are offered daily at 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. ■
What Happens When the Bible Doesn’t Say I Can’t: A Practical Approach Reflecting God’s Image – Nijay Gupta, assistant professor of biblical theology and exegesis Many Christians want a Bible passage to tell them what to do or not to do with their bodies. While we have some general advice like “flee sexual immorality!” that is not the way the Bible works. The Bible tells us about what it means to be human and what it means to reflect God’s image. The Bible tells us to put others first, to honor our family, to trust that God created marriage. So what conclusions can we draw?
Something They Never Knew They Needed: A Practical Approach to Spiritual Formation in Teens – Doug Milne (M.Div. ‘10), adjunct professor at Roberts Wesleyan College What does spiritual formation look like for adolescents and for those who provide leadership for them? What are they ready to receive and engage in and how do you cultivate the readiness and engagement that allows formation to flourish?
TBD, Albany 6500 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville 2265 Westside Drive, Rochester
More than 130 households contributed to the 2012-13 annual fund for the Seminary. Because all gifts go toward student scholarships, over $175,000 is available to assist students in their seminary journey. We also celebrate the support of Northeastern Society members—some 150 people who have committed to giving at least $500 each year toward student scholarships.
On July 29, 2013, Barbara and Wesley Skinner, Jr. presented an oil painting of his parents to the College and Seminary in recognition of Wesley, Sr.’s vision for pastoral preparation and their shared commitment to the institution.
Willow Creek Leadership Summit August 8-9 Rochester, N.Y. Syracuse, N.Y. Women of Faith September 13 Rochester, N.Y. Assembly of God BOOST Youth Leaders Conference September 14 Batavia, N.Y. Evangelical Lutheran Synod Ministerium Retreat September 16-18 Canandaigua, N.Y. Baptist Convention of NY September 22-24 Amherst, N.Y. Association of Related Churches September 24 Rochester, N.Y. Assembly of God Boost Youth Leaders One Day Conference September 28 Baldwinsville, N.Y.
A Clothing Store for Everyone: A Practical Approach Toward Authenticity and Breaking Stereotypes—by Larry Petry (M.Div. ’14), youth pastor at open Arms Community Church Whether it’s the kids or the leaders, there is not a one-size-fits-all image that we need to adhere to in order to be accepted and to be effective. How can we look beyond the stereotypes we impose on ourselves and each other to live a life of faith and celebrate all that we are in God’s image?
Register for the festival, including seminars, online at: www.kingdombound.org.
October 4-5, 2013 Mark your calendars now for Nurturing the Soul of Ministry: Intimacy with Self. This seminary-wide gathering will be October 4-5 at Notre Dame Retreat Center in Canandaigua, N.Y. Make this time a real retreat by coming Friday evening for vespers and fellowship overlooking the lake, then stay overnight at the center. Our speaker on Saturday is Dr. Cherith Fee Nordling. Look for more details at www.nes.edu/asr. .
September 23, 2013 ‘Let This Mind Be in You,’ a lively three-lecture series by husband-and-wife team David Hogue and Diane Stephens, offers a thoughtful, heartfelt analysis of the vital intersections of classic Christian spirituality, emerging discoveries in the neurosciences and spiritual practices that have become hallmarks of the Wesleyan movement. Whether we name the experience “awakening” or “personal conversion,” awareness of our deep longing for God is the starting point in leading a spiritual life. It continues with disciplined practices of religious formation—but not just for the sake of our own salvation. As we are formed in Christ and transformed by the Holy Spirit, compassion for others flows from an authentic, lived faith. How and why this happens come into focus as we consider what the brain sciences are revealing about human nature, love of God, and love of neighbor.
October 19, 2013 Over 40 papers will be presented at this interdisciplinary theology conference addressing aspects of New Creation in Old and New Testaments; Historical and Systematic Theology; and Ecclesiology, Spirituality, and Ethics. Dr. J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, will present the keynote address, “The Bible’s Best Kept Secret.” Find more information and register at: www.nes.edu/new-creation-theology-symposium.
Watch for details at www.nes.edu.
Check out the ever-changing list of job opportunities at the career services website . Positions include worship leader, assistant minister, resident associate, and more. Also view a list of recent postings around upstate N.Y. here . See if they are a good fit for you. PAGE 6
reforestation program in Haiti. They built a fence around 35 acres of land and also put in 16 nursery beds on the land for the first seedlings.
Steve Dunmire (C7) was recently named director of church relations at Houghton College. Beginning his responsibilities on August 1, Steve will foster the development of sustained relationships between Houghton College and church communities.
Elizabeth Guckenbiehl (C18) will begin a two-year master’s program in historical theology with a concentration in Early Christian studies at Wheaton College. She has received a full scholarship for this program and will be working on languages and specialized courses in patristics. Elizabeth will also joyfully wed Joseph Herman Lang on Friday, August 2.
Dr. Nijay Gupta recently wrote an article on the term and theme of “Faith” in Scripture for the Lexham Bible Dictionary published by Logos Bible Software. Even though the dictionary articles continue to be written and published, you can purchase the dictionary now for your computer, and, as articles are completed, they are automatically updated to your dictionary. Dr. Gupta’s article on faith should be available in early 2014.
Michele Miner (C20) was a guest on the Mars Hill Network program, Open Mic Night, on Friday, July 26. She discussed the importance of imprinting God’s Word in your heart and mind. Vern Saile (C1) has been appointed lead pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, N.Y., beginning in September. He has served as lead pastor at Gowanda Free Methodist Church for the last six years. Jack Staversky (C18) serves as Belong Coordinator for Browncroft Community Church in Rochester, N.Y. In this role, which he started June 10, he works with all the ministries that nurture spiritual growth for adults.
Student News: Daria Roesch (C30) traveled to Haiti in July with a group from Edgewood Free Methodist Church. The group was the first team to partner with Eden Projects as they launch a
Dr. Doug Cullum, vice president and dean, and Dr. Nijay Gupta, assistant professor of biblical theology and exegesis, will consult at the Arthur Vining Davis Interfaith Dialogue in Chicago, Ill., August 8-9.
Dr. Rebecca Letterman, associate professor of spiritual formation, led a seminar in spring 2013 for Roberts Wesleyan College Master of Science in Nursing students in ways of addressing compassion fatigue, including issues of self-care and secondary stress.
http://blog.nes.edu Another voice in the marketplace of ideas. See what is being tossed around by Seminary faculty, students, alumni and staff to equip and inspire, reflect and inform. Want to be a guest blogger? Let us know at email@example.com .
Dr. J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, organized and chaired the annual meeting of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association, held in conjunction with the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences in June. His essay “Samuel Agonistes: A Conflicted Prophet’s Resistance to God and Contribution to the Failure of Israel’s First King” was published in Prophets, Prophecy, and Ancient Israelite Historiography (Eisenbraun, 2013). Rev. Andy Sass, adjunct faculty member will serve as the lead pastor of Brockport Free Methodist Church, beginning in September. He has served the past six years as lead pastor at Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, N.Y.
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In this issue: -Faculty Research -Classes in Albany -Upcoming Events -Seminary Community News