Monthly Archives: November 2018

Notice of Upcoming ATS site visit

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is the accrediting agency for Theological Schools in Canada and the US. Northwest Baptist Seminary holds both an accreditation with ATS for its programs offered through the ACTS consortium and an accreditation independently for our Immerse and Korean-language programming. As part of maintaining this accreditation, Northwest is currently preparing a self-study report in advance of an evaluation visit by the accrediting agency. One of our requirements is to let all our constituents know that this site visit will be happening in early Spring and invite your comments or concerns regarding our qualification for accreditation.

We are open to receiving your comments and concerns. If you have any comments or questions about this process, please let us know by e-mailing [email protected]. Please send any comments prior to the New Year.

Thank you for working with us.

Director’s Desk: Interview with Mark Evans

Mark Evans serves as the Associate Pastor at Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton, Alberta. Mark grew up and was raised in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island before moving to Edmonton. He has just recently graduated from the Immerse program, the first Fellowship Prairies student to do so. Mark and his wife Brittany also welcomed their first child, Faith, a few months ago. Northwest’s Director of Development Ron Sing talked with Mark to ask him about his family, his ministry and his Immerse experience.

Ron: Who were some of your mentors that were influential in your faith and in shaping your character?

Mark: A number of people had a profound impact on different aspects of my faith. I am thankful for my Mom and Dad, who laid an amazing foundation of trusting God. Pastor Paul Hawkes at Parksville whet my appetite for expositional preaching. Nigel Wheeler in Lethbridge, Alberta taught me systematic theology. John Bonham in Edmonton, Alberta taught me leadership and discipleship and my three Immerse mentors, Jason Hagen, Phil Webb, and Dr. Kent Anderson all pushed me to wrestle with godly character amongst other things! 

Ron: What areas of your life and ministry where most impacted by  Immerse?

Mark: During Immerse, I had to dig deep and work through some personal issues that I didn’t want to address. Without sharing specifics, I had signed up for a church leadership degree program (Immerse) and the biggest impact was in my family life! Immerse gave me a vision for church ministry, leading my family into God’s blessing first, and then from that place of harmony and health, helping others realize that same future – where Christ reigns over all. 

Ron: What is your ministry now? Do you feel you are more prepared and equipped for your ministries after graduating from Immerse?

Mark: I am currently serving in Edmonton at Fellowship Baptist Church where I was recently elected as Associate Pastor. Immerse absolutely gave me the leadership competencies required in this line of Kingdom service. I am deeply thankful to the many saints who have supported the Immerse program with their generous giving and prayers and the leadership of the Northwest team and Fellowship Pacific. Many thanks to all my mentors, family and friends who have supported and encouraged me these past few years! 

Jay James Perkins 1921-2018

Northwest lost a longtime friend of the seminary when Jay Perkins passed away this past July. He was predeceased by his wife Verna in 2014. Because of his love for Christ and his desire to serve Him, Jay lived an extraordinary life. Northwest, along with many other groups in the Fellowship, was greatly impacted by Jay.  

Jay loved to serve God. 

Jay used his skills in accounting and leadership as he served in the Canadian Army, as an entrepreneur, in Church leadership, in Sunday School and on the mission field with his wife Verna. With Dr. Jack Pickford, Jay established the Baptist Foundation, a non-profit agency for senior housing in BC. As a gifted leader, he served on Northwest’s Board of Governors, as a board member and later as chair. In the 70’s, Jay was the Financial Administrator for Northwest and Executive Director of Baptist Housing Ministries. 

Jay loved his family and friends.

In his later life, Jay started a men’s group at Elim Village in Surrey where he mentored many of the residents. He loved to share his wisdom with his family including his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. 

Jay loved to help our students.

 Jay established two scholarships at Trinity Western University and recently, the Jay and Verna Perkins Bursary Fund at Northwest Baptist Seminary. This special fund gives financial assistance to our students each year. We are very thankful for Jay and the Perkins family for their love and generosity. 

3rd Annual Immerse Graduation

This fall, Northwest hosted its 3rd Immerse graduation in partnership with Fellowship Pacific. Immerse graduations are a particularly special time because they represent the culmination of not only the graduate’s journey but also the cumulative work of Northwest, Fellowship Pacific and local church mentors. To steal a phrase, it takes a village to raise a leader. At graduation, the village comes together to celebrate. So congratulations to the villages of Garry Firth (Meeting Place), Luis Orjuela (Okanagan Hispanic Baptist Church), Jeffrey Scott (Ladner Baptist Church), Steve Vandop (Departure Bay Baptist Church), and Tommy Wong (Oakridge Baptist Church).

This year’s convocation was particularly special as two students from partner networks also walked the stage. Mark Evans became the first graduate from Fellowship Prairies, completing his training at Fellowship Baptist Church in Edmonton. Lindsay Myers is the 7th graduate through the 17:6 Network in Fort Worth, TX. She completed her studies at Church in the Valley in Alhambra, CA. She is the first 17:6 Network graduate to travel north to come and celebrate the occasion with us.

To date, there have been 22 Immerse graduates from four different partner networks. Nearly all of those graduates are currently serving in the roles or ministries for which they trained.  Northwest now offers Immerse in partnership with 11 different networks and this fall has 60 students enrolled in the program. 109 mentors guide those students who are serving in 34 different churches or ministry contexts.

It does take a village to raise a leader, and we are so thankful to all of those who are partnering in this work. 

President’s Pen (Fall 2018)

I recently had the opportunity to offer some help to another seminary that comes from the mainline wing of the Christian movement. I will admit that I asked myself some hard questions as to how this fit within our mission and what some of my predecessors would have said about my being there. When the weekend was over, the dean of this school came to me and said, “Thank you for reminding us of things that we had forgotten in our institutional memory: Scripture, church, and gospel.”

While I took this as an amazing compliment and a testament to the value of my contribution, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What else is there?” As I think back across the 85-year history of Northwest, I observe that these three things have always defined the direction of our ministry. I am very encouraged to see that they still are. Our whole team remains rock solid in our affirmation of the Bible, the church, and the Christian gospel. May it ever be so.

Of course, we are also becoming known for our particular competency-based focus in theological education. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will have read about our wildly successful conference. To see a downtown ballroom full of educators there to hear us tell the story about how a seminary can reshape itself to serve its churches, was deeply gratifying. Not only are we making an impact on our own churches, but we are seeing this vision spread.

For example, we are now on the cusp of launching the Immerse program in Colombia. This culminates more than 15 years of work. We believe that what is emerging is going to spread across Latin America for the sake of the church and for the good of the gospel.

This spreading of influence is truly encouraging. We are now in the final stages of forming a partnership, to be known as Symporus. This will be an arms-length company held in partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary and the Pathwright firm out of South Carolina. Together, we are aligning to offer technology and services in support of competency-based theological education across North America and the world. Symporus is going to allow us to serve these opportunities, without distracting us from our core mission here at home.

We are also working on developing a new product line which we intend to call Groundwork. This will provide competency-based theological education to a wider array of people and churches, meeting needs at a more accessible level. Alongside Immerse, Groundwork is going to help us serve lay people, young adults, and people whose calling is something other than vocational pastoral ministry.

In all of this, we are grateful for your support. We are thankful for you and your prayers as well as your financial support. I have little trouble asking you to bless our students with your giving because I have seen the result. There is nothing like seeing people’s gifts and callings blossom through deep, mentored training. All donation income goes directly to students in the form of aid.

To God be the glory.

CBTE 2018 A Success

For two days in November, Northwest played host to the first ever International Conference on Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE 2018). Thanks to a grant awarded to Northwest by the Association of Theological Schools as part of the Educational Models and Practices Forum, supported by the Lily Endowment, Northwest was able to draw in a broad range of experts from the wider world of competency-based education and from theological education in particular.

In 2011 Northwest became the first seminary in North America to begin experimenting with Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE), only we didn’t know it at the time. While it took some time to identify the language and relationship to the Competency-Based Education movement occurring elsewhere in higher education, Northwest’s Immerse program has been centred around the values that have become core to the emerging CBTE movement, right from the start. The central values are that students train for ministry by being involved in ministry in the context of the local church, students utilize the learning opportunities their ministry presents at a pace that works for them, students are overseen by mentors in a program that is individually designed, and the program is delivered in partnership between the school, the church, and the denomination. When Northwest began to partner with Fellowship Pacific to outline what would eventually become the Immerse program, we had no idea that this would be the beginning of something completely new and significant in theological education. We just knew we needed to be better at serving our churches.

Jump forward seven years. The ideas behind the Immerse program have been rapidly gaining credence in the broader world of theological education. Northwest, Fellowship Pacific, and their program have garnered significant interest from a wide variety of groups who felt a similar need to serve their ministries better. It was clear that there was a broad-based interest in CBTE throughout North America. When the opportunity arose to pursue a grant that would fund a conference, we knew we had to try to provide something that would shepherd this emerging movement well. 

The landscape has changed since 2011. First of all, Northwest isn’t the only school with an active CBTE program. For a number of years, we have recognized a kindred institution in Sioux Falls Seminary, based out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Their CBTE-based “Kairos” program launched In 2014. Additionally, Grace College and Seminary in Indiana consulted with both Northwest and Sioux Falls when designing their “Deploy” program which launched in January of this year. 

When seeking speakers and topics for the CBTE Conference, Northwest drew from the leaders, experience, and expertise in these schools, as well as our own. In addition, we eagerly welcomed speakers from the Competency-Based Education Network, experts in the field of CBE. We also had the opportunity to expose our conference attendees to the strength of our partnerships with Fellowship Pacific, other network partners, and our students, as representatives from each of these led or participated in breakout sessions and panel discussions. 

The results were as much a success as possible. The 120 conference attendees filled the venue and represented organizations from all over North America and beyond. In total, 70 organizations were represented coming from 5 provinces, 25 states and even Brazil, Guatemala, and Australia. Because one of the values of CBTE is partnership with the ministry organization seeking to train their future leaders, we were excited that only one-third of these organizations were other graduate-level theological institutions. Another twenty-six percent of participating organizations were undergraduate-level schools. Additionally, twenty-nine percent were missional organizations such as churches, denominations, missions or para-church organizations. 

Of the organizations that attended, nearly half indicated they were in the process of developing CBTE programs and nearly a third had just recently heard about CBTE and came to learn more. This suggests to us that, as successful as the first conference was, the groundswell is only just beginning. Something big is happening in theological education and Northwest is at the forefront of it. The excitement at the conference was palpable. It was clear to all those in attendance that this was only the first step towards what is to come. With nearly two-thirds of organizations in attendance being represented by only one conference attendee, we expect that a follow-up conference could easily have double the attendance. 

So what happens next? Throughout the planning and the conference itself, we at Northwest were clear that CBTE was no longer just a Northwest thing. We are now serving the greater Kingdom. At the same time, it is important to us that we remain at the forefront of this wave. Following the conference, Northwest hosted a meeting of those institutions most engaged with CBTE. The aim of this meeting was to organize together to help set the direction for the fledging CBTE movement for the sake of the Kingdom. The result was a commitment to work together in continuing to research, demonstrate, and promote CBTE to both theological education and missional institutions as well as plan to hold more conferences in the future. It was clear that all at the table were as passionate about training leaders in context as we are. Northwest may have been the first out of the blocks, but we are no longer running alone. We are engaging together with other groups, and more are joining the race every day. We feel a responsibility to help however we can and steward this movement for the betterment of the Kingdom.

One way we will do that is through a new venture being undertaken with partners Sioux Falls Seminary and tech company Pathwright. Together with Northwest, these groups will form a new company called Symporus. Powered by the Pathwright technology platform, Symporus will serve schools and missional organizations by providing tech services capable of hosting a CBTE program. Additionally, Symporus will draw on the expertise of both Sioux Falls and Northwest to provide a whole host of CBTE related consulting and services including program design and even customized, credit-bearing degrees. We believe this partnership will enable Northwest to continue to maximize the experience we have gained for the benefit of the Kingdom while allowing us to continue to prioritize our core mission of training leaders for the Fellowship.

As we witnessed over 120 people gather to learn more about CBTE it was clear a lot has changed since 2011. And yet, our heart has not. We are still passionate about training leaders in the best way we can. And we are always grateful to our constituents and partners for not only pushing us to do that better every day but for being fully engaged with us every step of the way.