It is a wonderful thing to observe how God leads. When Mark Carroll told me he was leaving Northwest my feelings were mixed. On one hand, I was thrilled to see Mark step up to lead one of our great churches. After all, that is why we are doing this work. On the other hand, I knew that he would leave a giant hole in our ministry. Very quickly, however, the Lord led us to the two people that he had in mind for us.
Eric Fehr is a Northwest alumnus with a wealth of experience in administration and human resource management. We are very pleased that he was available to handle the day to day assignments of the Dean’s office. I am also truly pleased to welcome back, Dr. Howard Andersen to the position of Academic Dean. Howard will fill this role part time. Together Howard and Eric offer a powerful team that will allow us to move forward on several fronts.
It is particularly encouraging to me that we now have three presidents on the team. I benefit greatly in my filling of the current role by the presence of Larry Perkins who served as president from 2000-2010, and also by Howard’s participation on the team. Howard was President of Northwest in the late 1970s when I began as an undergraduate. These two men have been mentors to me for most of my life. Now to be working together in this manner it is a tremendous blessing. I think it speaks to the consistency of vision and mission that we have tried to encourage here at Northwest.
I also have some further good news to report regarding our application for ATS accreditation for Northwest and for Immerse. We have just recently been informed by the Association of Theological Schools that our application for Candidate Status has been approved. This is the second of three major steps in the process, so we have just one left to go. We have always held our accreditation through our ACTS partnership, but for Northwest to be accredited in its own right is very significant. Of course, for ATS to approve the innovations of the Immerse program is ground-breaking. We will be working hard on the final stage of the process which we hope to complete by the spring of next year.
It is encouraging to see how positively ATS has been looking at these innovations. “Most schools are looking to make their programs easier,” they said to us. “You are actually trying to make the program more challenging!” I think they are correct in that assessment. This past May I was asked to present what we are doing to a meeting of seminary presidents and deans from across Canada. Now, ATS has asked me to present the program to a group of seminary presidents from across North America in San Antonio this January. People are noticing what we are doing. Our influence is spreading.
Speaking of Immerse, we recently completed our first formal assessment process for potential new students and churches in the program. Eleven men and women, selected by their churches came together for two days of intense testing and evaluation. The assessment was done by a team of fifteen faculty, pastors, and Fellowship staff. In the end, ten students were approved for admission into the program. We now have twenty people and churches engaged in this process, and we are still only just getting started. Imagine the impact this will have on our churches down the road.
Clearly, the Lord does lead and we are excited to be in the stream of what he is doing through church-based ministry leadership development. Thanks for all the ways you serve with us in this mission.