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Caldwell: Serving Others Through Tradition, Innovation

July 6, 2015

We are excited to welcome Dr. Larry Caldwell as Chief Academic Officer and Dean of Sioux Falls Seminary.  Dr. Caldwell’s new role marks his second time as dean of a theological institution.  He first served Asian Theological Seminary in Manila, Philippines.  There, he was Professor of Intercultural Studies for 20 years, five of which he served simultaneously as Dean.  In 2011, he joined the faculty at Sioux Falls Seminary.

1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,” is a good reminder for me as I begin my service as Chief Academic Officer and Dean of Sioux Falls Seminary.  Peter’s words remind me that whatever strengths and abilities I bring to the job are for one overarching purpose: to serve others.

And that service, I believe, is the key to what Sioux Falls Seminary is all about.  All of us—as faculty, administration, staff, and students—have the obligation to serve others in whatever we do.  It is in this service that we help the seminary fulfill its kingdom calling of developing servants for their participation in the kingdom mission, the Missio Dei.

We are at an exciting time in the life of Sioux Falls Seminary!  It is a time that gives us innumerable opportunities to serve others both inside and outside the walls of the seminary.  My desire is that my tenure as Dean be marked by two words: tradition and innovation.  By using the word, tradition, I am committed to maintaining the rich tradition of the seminary’s conservative evangelical faith based upon the Bible.  At the same time, by using the word, innovation, I am willing to creatively innovate curriculum and delivery systems in order to better serve the ministry needs of current and future generations of ministry workers.

The reality is that for a seminary to be relevant in its service to the world today it must constantly be looking for new and appropriate ways to make the unchangeable Gospel meaningful to today’s world.  And what a rapidly changing world it is!  Today 37% of the entire United States is made up of individuals from non-white ethnic backgrounds.  Today roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population is religiously made up of the “nones”—those individuals who identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular.”  Worldwide over two billion individuals have never heard a credible presentation of who Jesus really is.  Clearly Sioux Falls Seminary still has a role to play in equipping individuals to serve in this world!

I’m excited about becoming the Dean of Sioux Falls Seminary!  We have an excellent faculty, an exuberant president, a service-oriented psychological center, and a wonderful administrative and support staff.  Besides all of this, we are a “lean and mean” institution.  In terms of size, we are more like a tugboat than a cruise ship.  It takes much less effort to change our direction in order to be more relevant to serve the needs of the world around us.  I truly believe that some of the best days are ahead of us as an institution.

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