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Reflections on One Year as President

February 12, 2015

It is amazing how quickly one year goes by!  I have been serving as President of Sioux Falls Seminary for one year now, and I am continually inspired by the people working at Sioux Falls Seminary, the students we serve, and the stories I hear from alums, givers, churches, and others who have walked alongside the seminary at some point in its 157-year history.  Indeed, God is doing great work in and through Sioux Falls Seminary, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to participate in his mission.

In the months of February, March, and April, we are focusing on how, as followers of Christ, we participate in God’s work and follow Christ into mission.  Participation in the mission of God extends beyond individuals and to the work of organizations such as Sioux Falls Seminary.  Our seminary community has worked diligently over the past 12 months to consider how Sioux Falls Seminary might participate in the mission of God.  In the paragraphs that follow, I will share what we have discerned to be our calling and institutional mission as well as some of the ways we have pursued that calling in this past year.

As our faculty, staff, therapists, and board members prayed and discerned together how Sioux Falls Seminary might be called to participate in God’s work, we settled on the idea that our mission is to develop servants for their participation in the Kingdom mission.  In essence, we serve in God’s Kingdom by providing systems of theological education and integrative counseling that are accessible, affordable, relevant, and faithful for the purpose of empowering people where they are.  In doing so, we offer a journey toward God’s hope.

Developing servants for their participation in the Kingdom mission is a multi-faceted task.  We work with pastors, counselors, community organizers, business leaders, bankers, nonprofit leaders, spiritual directors, and many others.  So what does this mean we do?

We participate in the gospel by:

  • Walking alongside those who have been called to a journey of theological education
  • Helping individuals grow where God has placed them;
  • Developing students to better understand and see the realities of the Kingdom of God in the contexts in which they serve;
  • Providing therapy services for individuals, families, couples, and groups, regardless of income level, through Sioux Falls Psychological Services, the Child & Adolescent Therapy Clinic, River Counseling Services, and the student-led therapy clinic;
  • Actively engaging in God’s redemptive work;
  • Partnering with other like-minded ministry organizations;
  • Pursuing our calling and institutional mission.

It has been great to see our faculty, staff, therapists, and board members develop new ways to pursue our calling.  In the past twelve months, we have:

  • Enhanced the degree program outcomes for our Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Leadership, and Master of Arts in Bible & Theology degree programs.
  • Launched the Kairos Project, a reimagined model of theological education.
  • Completely redesigned our Master of Arts in Counseling program to provide additional areas of study and expertise as well as increased licensure opportunities.
  • Updated the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree to encourage partnerships with other ministries and create new educational pathways for students.
  • Seen God move in the hearts of people as they invested more financial resources, referred more students and clients, and stepped boldly into a call to attend seminary.  Over 30% more new students joined us in Fall 2014 than did in Fall 2013.
  • Opened our “doors” to the community both literally and figuratively.  The seminary now hosts students participating in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and regularly sees community organizations use our facilities.  We welcome Embrace Church who on February 15 begins using our building for its city-center campus.  Collaborative efforts with the Brookhaven Institute, the Next Community Initiative of the North American Baptist Conference, Forge Canada, Augustana College, and many more are expanding our reach in new and powerful ways.
  • Launched a Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic at Sioux Falls Psychological Services that’s already bursting at the seams due to the overwhelming response we have received.
  • Dramatically decreased the cost of theological education for students in our updated Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program as well as our new Kairos Project.  Future plans will enable us to do this even more.
  • Adjusted many of the background processes that undergird the institution with a goal of making theological education more accessible, affordable, and relevant.

Above all, we have grown closer together as a community of people seeking to discern God’s will for the life of the seminary.  I recently gave a presentation at a gathering for seminary presidents.  It was a blessing to share with others the great work God is doing in Sioux Falls.  I am humbled by the opportunity to be president of an institution like Sioux Falls Seminary.  This past year has been amazing, and I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for the future!

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