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Jeren Rowell Inaugurated as 11th President of Nazarene Theological Seminary

Dr. Rowell offers his inaugural address entitled, “Sent.”April 3, 2018
Kansas City, Missouri

Rev. Dr. Jeren L. Rowell was inaugurated as the eleventh president of Nazarene Theological Seminary on April 3 in an evening service held in the J.B. Chapman Memorial Chapel. The inauguration was attended by a host of esteemed guests including three former NTS presidents, ecclesial officers from the Global Ministry Center of the Church of the Nazarene, and academic representatives from nine other colleges, universities and theological schools.

Dr. David Busic, Dr. David Downs, Dr. Carla Sunberg and Dr. Ron Benefiel surround Dr. Rowell in prayerIn his inaugural address, Dr. Rowell spoke of his intention to nurture the relationship between the church and the academy: “I can promise the Church of the Nazarene that under my leadership, Nazarene Theological Seminary will always have the local church clearly in view. My vision for NTS is that what happens here every week will have a positive impact on what happens in the local church every week.”

Dr. Rowell has long been an advocate for students and young clergy, mentoring and investing in them throughout his ministry. “Jeren is a champion for developing ministers,” noted NTS Student Leadership Team president, Rev. David Goodwin. “Through his pastoral compassion, wisdom and humility, countless clergy-disciples have been and will be shaped by his life.”

Dr. Rowell previously served churches in Nampa, Idaho, and Chicago, Illinois, before pastoring the Shawnee Church of the Nazarene in Kansas from 1991 to 2005 when he was elected Kansas City district superintendent. He served on the NTS board since 2005 and as chair from 2009 until his election as president in October 2017.

He is an alumnus of Nazarene Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Seminary. Dr. Rowell earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwest Nazarene University, a Master of Arts from Olivet Nazarene University, and a Doctor of Education from Olivet. He has served as an adjunct professor for both NTS and Olivet.

Dr. Rowell has authored several books and numerous articles on pastoral theology and practice.

NTS Alumni Association president Dr. Steve Estep testified to the theological leadership and pastoral wisdom Dr. Rowell’s ministry has exhibited: “Dr. Jeren Rowell brings an uncompromising commitment to strong pastoral theology and a deeply ingrained passion to equip next generation leaders in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. His theological, pastoral and practical leadership will be of great value to NTS.”

General Superintendent and former NTS president Dr. Carla Sunberg expressed her confidence in Dr. Rowell’s leadership moving into the future. “It has been my pleasure to work with Rev. Dr. Jeren Rowell for a number of years,” she said. “His relationship to NTS as board chair has equipped him well for this new task. Jeren’s love for the Lord and passion for pastoral ministry are reflected in all that he does and will bode well for NTS in the days ahead.”

In his charge to the president, Dr. David Busic, General Superintendent and former NTS president said, “The Global Church of the Nazarene celebrates the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the election of Rev. Dr. Jeren Rowell as president. Together with the seminary community, we have sought God’s guidance and our prayers have been graciously answered.”

Rev. Dr. Rowell and his wife, Starla, reside in the Kansas City area. A video of the inauguration can be watched here.

NTS is a graduate school of theology in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition located in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information on NTS and its flexible Masters programs, post-Master’s level studies, and ministry certificate programs, visit


The Currency of Preaching


 2018 Senior Corlett Sermon Award winner, Lesley HansherI write this on a Tuesday evening, reflecting on the privilege I had earlier in the day to listen to not just one, but three sermons in our weekly NTS chapel service. Now we like preaching at NTS, but three sermons in one service is certainly not the norm. But this was a special chapel, set aside to hear the preaching of the three student finalists for the Corlett Senior Sermon Award. Following the chapel service NTS faculty, along with a committee of pastors, selected one student to receive the annual award which includes an invitation to preach the sermon during graduation chapel in May.

After I opened the chapel with a greeting and a call to worship (another privilege I had), I introduced the student preachers and read the history of the Corlett Senior Sermon—the history in which these three finalists were now participating. I had heard the history before; the award’s significance, its intent, and the persons who had faithfully sponsored it. But there in chapel I was struck by the year it was first presented: 1945. NTS has a lot of rich traditions, and certainly its fair-share that have endured shifts in theological education and changing models of ministry. The Corlett Senior Sermon, however, is more than just another long-standing tradition, it actually originated the same year NTS started.

I have heard it said that preaching is at its lowest currency in history. That this practice, once so central to the corporate activity of the church is now adrift amongst the sea of information, chatter, and polemics that inundates every corner of our lives. A sermon is just more content; content we neither have the energy nor patience to process. We are overloaded with content, and so consciously and subconsciously we are shutting it out and ignoring it, especially if it does not immediately captivate us. There is, of course, some truth to the statement of preaching’s low currency. Preaching faces a whole set of challenges previously unimaginable that call into question how we preach and just what we think we are accomplishing. Yet the statement is also woefully shortsighted and misleading. Partly because it equates preaching with content—more information to put into our minds—but largely because it assumes preaching is the [sole] work of the preacher when in fact it is the work of God who offers the Word, opens our hearts and minds, and infiltrates our lives. 

The three Corlett Sermon preachers today were a reminder of just how vibrant this central practice of the church remains. They didn’t do tricks or succumb to entertaining their audiences. They committed themselves to be preachers who opened the scriptures and invited us in. In this way, their sermons were not their content. You could say the preaching had currency—high currency—grounded in the intrinsic value of the good news of God’s reign as revealed in Jesus Christ. Such “content” is not easily shut out or ignored, for it stands in contrast to all the other content of the world.

I am thinking now that the Corlett Senior Sermon, first presented the year NTS began in 1945, is like a microcosm of NTS’s purpose to shape and form faithful ministers of the gospel. No one in 1945 knew what the context of 2018 would hold, but they did recognize the importance of minsters developing theological know-how, not just for one time and place, but for the diverse and ever-changing contexts of God’s world. The Corlett Senior Sermon lives on. Not as a tradition for tradition’s sake, but as an expression of the enduring art of proclaiming God’s reign.


Dr. Joshua Sweeden

Dean of the Faculty

Nazarene Theological Seminary



Special thanks to those who have made the Corlett Senior Sermon possible for over 72 years:
Mr. Eric A. Mabes, Dr. and Mrs. L.T. Corlett, and Mr. R. Wesley Blachly.
Congratulations to the 2018 Senior Corlett Sermon Award winner, Lesley Hansher,
and runners-up Kevin Portillo and David Goodwin. Watch the chapel service here.



An Interview with Dr. Jeren Rowell

Dr. Jeren Rowell
An Interview with
NTS President Dr. Jeren Rowell
On October 12, 2017, Dr. Jeren Rowell was elected the eleventh president of Nazarene Theological Seminary. He will be inaugurated on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (RSVP HERE)

Board of Trustees, faculty and staff gather to pray following Dr. Rowell's election in October 20017You recently transition from the role of District Superintentdent to president of NTS. How has the transition been? How are the roles similar? Different?
My transition to this role has been, from my personal perspective, very smooth. Having been closely connected to NTS for many years, and having worked closely with the past four presidents, I had a wonderful education for stepping into this assignment. The rhythm of the Seminary is quite different than that of a District, at least in terms of the leader’s daily/weekly schedule. The roles are similar in terms of organizational leadership, but different in terms of the content of the work.
What do you envision the relationship between the seminary and the church looking like?
My passionate desire is that what happens at NTS will have a positive impact on what happens in the local church on a weekly basis. I want the church to have high confidence that NTS is accomplishing the mission of preparing faithful and effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church also needs the Seminary to do the work of academic research, not for its own sake but for the necessary work of keeping the Church rooted in Scripture, the historic Christian faith, and a Wesleyan-holiness theological framework.
As you have gotten settled in, what is it that you’ve discovered that you love and enjoy about NTS?
Maybe the best way to respond is that I have yet to discover what I do not love and enjoy about NTS. I particularly enjoy interaction with students, and the growing relationships with our wonderful faculty and staff. These are really good people who love the Lord and are serving the Lord with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength.
In what way(s) do you hope to see the mission of NTS grow and develop in the days to come?
Our mission is clear, and it is worth pursuing with everything we are. So, I am working to lead our growth in capacity to deliver the essential work of NTS more effectively in terms of scope, accessibility, and engagement with a rising generation of leaders for the church.
What is one thing you would want someone who has never been to NTS to know?
We are not only an academic institution and we are not only a training center. We are a Seminary which means that we are constantly working at the intersection of learning, vital faith, and the practice of ministry. Our purpose statement says that the first work of all of us at NTS (professors, students, staff) is to know the Lord and to love the Lord. We seek to walk with the Lord and to speak of the Lord. We are giving ourselves to much more than helping people earn a graduate degree. We are working to form faithful and effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Issues Forum Explores Holiness

Issues Forum attendees hear presentations on holinessPastors, laypersons and scholars recently gathered in Phoenix, Arizona for the NTS Issues Forum. The Forum is designed to bring together clergy and laity to have open and transparent discussion around issues that shape and define the Church of the Nazarene.

Participants gathered in February at the offices of Food for the Hungry in Phoenix to fellowship and dialogue openly around the theme: Holiness of Heart and Life: Discerning Christian Action Today. Jim Copple, NTS alum and Center for Pastoral Leadership board member, and Allen Brown, NTS trustee, served as moderators for the event. Two highlights included presentations from Dr. Diane Leclerc, Professor of Historical Theology at Northwest Nazarene University, and Dr. Ron Benefiel, Professor of Sociology and Christian Ministry and Lead Consultant for Mission Resources and Pastoral Relations at Point Loma Nazarene University (and a former NTS president). 

Dr. Leclerc presented a paper entitled The Vital-ity of Orthokardia: A Wesleyan “Middle Way” as the Way Forward for Holiness Ethics. Dr. Benefiel presented on John Wesley’s Mission of Evangelism and Mercy. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Benefiel and Dr. Leclerc, their presentations have been made available for download here.

One of the goals of the Forum is the publication of a “white paper” which can be offered to the Church in order to advance study, conversation, and ministry. The paper will be made available on the NTS website once it is published.


2018 Commencement Schedule

Nazarene Theological Seminary announces its 2018 Commencement schedule and welcomes family, friends and colleagues to celebrate with our graduates. All events will take place Saturday, May 5 2018 on the campus of NTS. The full schedule is available here.


NTS Celebrates Life of A.J. Wetmore

Dr. Gordon and A.J. WetmorePresident Jeren Rowell and the NTS community joins many family members, friends and colleagues in mourning the loss of A.J. Wetmore on January 29, 2018. A. J. and her husband, Dr. Gordon Wetmore, made an enduring mark on many students, faculty and staff during their years of ministry at NTS. Dr. Wetmore, who passed away in 2016, served as NTS’ seventh president from 1992-2000.

Nazarene Theological Seminary gives thanks for the life and ministry of Mrs. Wetmore and joins the family and the church in celebrating the hope of the resurrection embodied by A.J. and Gordon Wetmore.

The Wetmore family has sent the following message for release:

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in A.J.’s honor to the Dr. Gordon & A.J. Wetmore Scholarship Fund. The Wetmore Scholarship fund is an endowed scholarship given to students at NTS. Donations can be made here. Please note that the funds are: “In Memory of Dr. Gordon & AJ Wetmore.” Checks may be made out to “Nazarene Theological Seminary” and sent to 1700 E Meyer Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64131. Earmark the check “Wetmore”.



NTS Alumnus Launches Creative Ministry 

Pastor Kurt Gold and Pastor Jeremy Scott (Photo by Alyssa Stone)When NTS alumnus Rev. Jeremy Scott (‘06) and his congregation noticed the rising numbers of people in their region struggling with addiction, they prayerfully decided to launch a new ministry. North Street Community Chapel in Hingham, Massachusetts, recently started The Anchor as a ministry focused around addiction prevention/recovery and the arts. They especially had a heart for the town of Hull, a neighboring community located just a few miles from Hingham.

Part of the challenge of launching a ministry like this was finding the right leadership. Rev. Scott and the leadership of the church sought someone who could relate with those struggling with addiction and be able to minister with the love of Christ. They were grateful when the Lord sent Kurt Gerold who now serves as an Anchor ministry leader and associate pastor to the town of Hull. Gerold is in recovery himself and understands the challenges of addiction. 

Rev. Scott spoke of their vision for the new ministry:

“We aren’t planting a church, but we sure believe we’re planting the church. Things have moved quickly and we’re learning a lot, having hired a full-time pastor who is in recovery himself and meeting all sorts of people in need and who want to help.”

Part of the strategy from the beginning has been leveraging partnerships in the community. Programming is often collaborative and have included partnering with local detox facilities and hosting open mic nights.

“The connections we’re making with the schools, the police, social service agencies, and residents are growing every week,” noted Rev. Scott. “We’re currently working hard to secure a location in the town of Hull that can be the center of our ministry.”

Read more about The Anchor through a recent Hingham Journal news article. You can learn more about the Anchor through their website or by following them on Facebook


Pastoral Trust

Pastoral Trust by Dr. Jeren Rowell

The Gallup organization recently updated their data on the reputation of clergy in America:

In an article titled, “The 8 People Americans Trust More Than Their Local Pastor,” Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra of Christianity Today notes that trust in clergy has dropped steadily among Americans since 2009, down from a high of 67 percent in 1985 to just 48 percent in 2016. While this may not be surprising in light of publicized scandals throughout this period, it should be concerning to all Christians, particularly those who are called to serve as pastors.

So, what does it take to build trust between pastor and people? This should become the subject of serious and sustained conversation in the Church, so I will offer my thoughts on five ways of being that build pastoral trust:

1. Integrity in the conduct of one’s life. “Integrity calls me to account for authentic agreement between my words and my deeds. It is not the idea that I will ever live out my convictions and beliefs flawlessly, but that I am always willing to confess my shortcomings and invite others to point out my contradictions so that I might repent and learn.” Integrity demands of a Christ-follower that the worldly systems of power and influence give way to the Jesus-style power of laying down one’s life. Parishioners are astute in discerning the authenticity of their spiritual leaders. If a pastor’s preaching and teaching does not rise from a pure and contrite heart, people will soon know.

2.     Modesty in the conduct of one’s life. There is wisdom in the classical vows of ordained ministry that included obedience, chastity, and poverty. The contemporary view of pastoral vocation seems to demand (with biblical support) that “those who work deserve their pay” (1 Tim. 5:18). It is true that support for the ministry is a serious congregational obligation. However, if clergy are not disciplined about how we live in an age of consumeristic excess, our testimony is tarnished and our credibility strained. That which is considered lavish and that which is considered modest is difficult to establish in cultures with wide disparity of economic status. Nonetheless, there is wisdom in the prayerful, disciplined movement toward simplicity and modesty in the conduct of one’s life.

3.     Listening. The art of truly listening to people is in short supply these days. “Pastors are sometimes so distracted by the ‘busyness’ of ministry that we do not have time really to listen to folks and they know it. Our lack of confidence or perhaps lack of clarity about our call causes pastors to talk too much about how busy we are and how hard we are working to run the church. When we do this, we certainly do not inspire confidence in our people that we are able or even interested in attending to their lives. The art of spiritual direction is about more than giving advice. It is significantly about the flesh-and-blood ministry of being with a person, sitting with them, and actively listening to them.”

4.     Stability. This is the commitment to remain with a people, even when the assignment is not very pleasing to me. In the sixth century, Pope Benedict added the vow of stability to the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. “Think about the contrast of the constant and faithful pastor with the contemporary habit of short, serial relationships that are so much a part of life in our time. What better way to model God’s faithfulness than through a vocational life that does not capriciously move from place to place or throw in the towel when the going gets a bit rough?”

5.     Truthful, non-anxious speech. We find ourselves as ministers of the gospel of peace trying to find our voice in a noisy, anxious, and angry world. The worst we can do as pastors is to match the anxiety and compete with the noise. Too many pastors are displaying a very noisy and anxious social media presence, which is a factor in the diminishing of congregational trust. I agree with Dr. Tom Long who noted in an interview that people are longing for someone who can stand calmly under the authority of the Spirit and tell the truth about something.

I know that other notes could be added and these expressions could be improved, but I offer them to my friends and colleagues as we seek, by the grace of God, to conduct ourselves in Christian ministry in ways that reflect the character of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. May the Lord help us to rebuild trust in the pastoral office.

Jeren Rowell, Ed.D. | President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry

Nazarene Theological Seminary | Kansas City, Missouri

Quotes are from Rowell, J. Thinking, Listening, Being: A Wesleyan Pastoral Theology. (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 2014).


A Purposeful Christian Community


Greetings from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City!

As we anticipate the returning of students and the beginning of classes, it is good to be reminded of the core tasks involved with preparing women and men to be faithful and effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The NTS Student Handbook includes a statement titled, “A Purposeful Christian Community.” We are renewing our commitment to offer to all who are connected to NTS a life-giving community that nurtures the Christian journey. The statement includes these words:

Both faculty members and students are committed to these common purposes: to know and love the Lord, to speak about the Lord, and to walk with the Lord.

During my first few days as President of NTS, I was asked to explain why we seem to place great emphasis on spiritual formation. The question was framed in such a way to suggest unfamiliarity with and perhaps suspicion about the meaning of the phrase. To speak of spiritual formation is simply a way to say that we are a community of faith and learning, helping to form servants of the Lord Jesus in Christ-like character and holy love.

Spiritual formation happens by the work of the Holy Spirit, in gathered communities, and through the practices of worship, learning, fellowship, and service that form us in the way of Jesus. We are, in fact, quite committed to the work of spiritual formation. Another way to say it is that we are committed to holiness of heart and life.

At NTS, we are focused on training students in sound biblical and theological scholarship. We also recognize our pastoral responsibility to help our students grow in the Lord. This is the work to which we have given our lives at NTS. We are deeply grateful for a Church that recognizes and supports this work for the flourishing of our life together and for evangelical mission to the world.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

The peace of our Lord,

Jeren Rowell, President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry

Nazarene Theological Seminary



NTS Celebrates Scholarship of Distinction

Rev. Clifford DillmanThe Rev. Clifford K. and Bertha M. (Eickelberger) Dillman Scholarship, endowed in 2011 by the late Rev. Dr. Victor Dillman to honor the work of his parents, has now achieved “Scholarship of Distinction” status through a generous gift from Victor’s estate. This gift comes on the anniversary of Victor’s passing in December 2012.

Upon the original endowment, Rev. Victor Dillman stated:

I wish to begin an endowed scholarship for my late parents to assist students entering the ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ….It is hoped that the endowed scholarship will enhance and encourage women and men to enroll at NTS in preparation for the ministry and that they develop sound biblical theology and will spread THE WORD OF GOD faithfully….May God continue to bless the work of NTS as the students go out into the world to preach the gospel and make disciples.

As a Scholarship of Distinction, the Rev. Clifford K. and Bertha M. (Eickelberger) Dillman Endowed Scholarship will now provide a full three years’ tuition for a student of distinction at NTS, in perpetuity.

Rev. Clifford K. and Bertha M. (Eickelberger) Dillman:

Rev. Clifford Dillman began his preaching ministry in 1913 when he pastored a circuit of five churches. During this time, he met Bertha, who became his beloved wife and partner in ministry.

[My parents] were pioneer pastors working in Illinois with District Superintendent E.O. Chalfant in the thirties. Uncle Buddy was an annual guest. They founded Casey First in 1953…and Arcola First, organized in 1936, and they helped pave the way for Spanish Church in Arcola to become a reality….Thank God for the pioneer ministers. – Rev. Victor Dillman

Pastor and Mrs. Dillman served many churches in their long pastoral tenure. Their ministry spanned more than six decades in various parts of Illinois, central-southern Indiana and included evangelistic work, promoting scriptural holiness and the peace of Christ through the Nazarene movement.

Rev. Dr. Victor E. Dillman (1930-2012)

Victor was an ordained minister, educator, social worker, counselor, consultant and a veteran in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.

Rev. Dr. Dillman received a B.S. from Olivet Nazarene University in 1967, a Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Illinois in 1971 and a PhD of Philosophy from International University ULC. He was visiting professor for five summers at Pasadena Graduate College and at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

Rev. Dillman pastored seven United Methodist congregations in Illinois and was an interim preacher at the Free Methodist Church in Sedalia, MO. Victor was also Commanding Officer of Salvation Army Corps in Kewanee and Momence, IL.

Victor was a social worker and counselor at Kewanee High School and was employed for 25 years with Henry-Stark Counties Special Education, both in Illinois. Victor founded the Youth for Christ Inc. in three locations: Fairbanks, AK; Sedalia, MO and Kankakee County, IL. He was foster parent to 15 youths to help them through school and onto either college or vocational training. Victor served as president and Chairman of the Board for the Quad Counties Youth Services, a program to assist youth and family intervention. He served as a member of the Kewanee Drug and Alcohol Task Force and was CEO and president of the Henry County Youth Services Bureau Inc.

Victor also provided consultant services for 25 years for long-term healthcare homes situated throughout Illinois.

NTS President, Dr. Jeren Rowell comments:

We are grateful for Dr. Dillman’s investment that promotes biblical scholarship and pastoral preparation at NTS. We are especially thankful for his example of lifelong service to others in the name of the Lord Jesus. Victor loved the Lord, invested selflessly in others, and believed that higher education, Christian commitment and involvement in one’s community are the pathways to a hopeful future. We are thrilled to be a part of Victor’s dream, helping students “develop sound biblical theology,” “spread the word of God faithfully,” and “go out into the world to preach the gospel and make disciples.” His lasting gift will help students for generations to come.

More about NTS Scholarships:

Scholarship endowments at NTS begin at $10,000 and achieve “Scholarship of Distinction” status at $150,000. Visit to learn about starting a new scholarship or to give to an existing one.


2018 Russia Study Trip

Travel with NTS and Dr. Carla and Chuck Sunberg to Russia this summer! More information available at:


Save the Date

Join us for the inauguration of Dr. Jeren Rowell as the eleventh president of NTS! Questions may be directed to RSVP using the form below.




End of Year Giving

Dear friends of NTS,

Greetings from your Seminary. As we move into a new chapter in the life of NTS, there is a sense of anticipation and hope rising from our confidence that God continues to guide us into a bright future. Hope is a key theme during the days of Advent and Christmas. Hope is what our Lord Jesus Christ brings to the world. God continues to call ministers to preach the gospel and to guide the people of God to bear witness to our hope in Christ.  

Students who pursue ministry preparation at NTS and those who support the Seminary have something in common: A prayer that God’s kingdom come and his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). I would call this “hope.” Over 6,000 NTS alumni have been ambassadors of hope around the world since the Seminary’s launch in 1945.

Though today’s world is changing rapidly, two things remain the same: 1) NTS still prepares women and men to be faithful and effective ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and 2) NTS still relies upon faithful and generous gifts from people like you—people of hope. We are thankful for your support.

As December 31, 2017 approaches, will you prayerfully consider making a special, tax-deductible “End-of-the-Year” gift to NTS? It will mean so much—to our students, faculty, churches and communities everywhere—as the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope to this world.

Peace of the Lord,

Jeren Rowell, President



Welcome, President Dr. Jeren Rowell

Dr. Jeren and Starla RowellIn October 2017, Dr. Jeren Rowell was elected the eleventh president of Nazarene Theological Seminary:

After 25 years as a local church pastor and 12 years as a district superintendent, I am now very excited about this opportunity to help shape the lives of pastors, chaplains, missionaries and educators for the life of the Church. I’m very passionate about the ministries of these God-called servants rising from a biblically-rooted pastoral theology that enables their ministries truly to reflect the life of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. My vision for NTS is that what happens in this place on a weekly basis will impact positively what happens in the local church every week. (See Dr. Rowell’s video message)

Dr. Rowell is ordained an elder in the Church of the Nazarene and has pastored congregations in Idaho, Illinois and Kansas. In 2005, he was elected District Superintendent of the Kansas City District of the Church of the Nazarene a role he held until his election as president of NTS.

Dr. Rowell earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwest Nazarene University. He received his Master of Arts in Religion from Olivet Nazarene University where his research focused on Luke-Acts. Dr. Rowell earned his Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership from Olivet. The focus of his doctoral work was clergy retention in the Church of the Nazarene and the role of the district superintendent. Dr. Rowell has also done additional studies at Trinity Evangelical Seminary and Nazarene Theological Seminary. He has served as an adjunct professor at both NTS and Olivet, teaching courses in the Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership programs.

Dr. Rowell has authored several books and numerous articles on pastoral theology and practice. He and his wife, Starla, reside in the Kansas City area.

What people are saying:

Dr. Josh Sweeden, dean of the NTS faculty, was appreciative of Dr. Rowell’s work with the seminary and looks forward to the future:

Dr. Rowell’s gifts as a pastor-scholar will be a gift to the NTS community,” he said. “As both president and a member of the faculty, Dr. Rowell will further strengthen our academic programs and learning community — academically, spiritually, and professionally. NTS is committed to being a community of Christian wisdom and practice that develops leaders to join in God’s unfolding work in the world. We are excited for the ways Dr. Rowell will lead us forward in response to God’s mission.

Dr. Gustavo A. Crocker comments on behalf of the Board of General Superintendents:

We are pleased with Dr. Rowell’s election as the new NTS president. It is obvious that the Lord has been preparing him for such a time as this. He has been an effective pastor and district superintendent, a gifted writer on both the theology and practice of pastoral ministry, and a committed member and chairman of NTS’ Board of Trustees. The Board of General Superintendents congratulates Nazarene Theological Seminary on the gift of this election. 

Rev. Brit Bolerjack, current NTS student and director of the Young Clergy Network shared of Dr. Rowell’s support for pastors:

Dr. Jeren Rowell champions current and future pastors better than anyone I have ever met. He leads with honesty, humility, and grace. 

Dr. Rowell will be inaugurated on April 3, 2018. All are welcome. We invite you to join us in celebrating God’s faithfulness and continuing to pray for the mission and work of Nazarene Theological Seminary.


#GIVINGTUESDAY Results in Endowed Scholarship

100% endowed! Thanks to the generosity of NTS alumni and friends and a generous gift from the NTS Wynkoop Center for Women in Ministry, NTS received nearly $4,000 in gifts for a special #GIVINGTUESDAY initiative. 

This year’s campaign was called “Preach It, Sister!” and focused on raising funds to support women clergy in their theological education. The gifts received went to help fully endow a scholarship that was established in honor of Rev. Elizabeth Choate, a Nazarene elder who served in ministry throughout the United States until her death in 2000 at one hundred seven years of age. 

In addition to several generous individual donors, the advisory council of the NTS Wynkoop Center for Women in Ministry, after hearing of the initiative, voted to help fully fund the scholarship. Their gift brought the balance of the scholarship to $10,000, allowing it to be used to award to women enrolled at NTS.

The Wynkoop Center for Women in Ministry was launched in 2003 to equip, empower and encourage women as leaders in the church. The Center was named in memory of Dr. Mildred Bangs Wynkoop who was Theologian-in-Residence at NTS from 1976-1979. Dr. Wynkoop, an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, had an extensive ministry of pastoring, writing and working in theological education. She served, along with her husband Ralph, in pastoral and evangelistic ministry for several decades.

Dr. Judy Schwanz, Director of the Wynkoop Center, said, “So often we see families willing to spend money to invest in a husband’s education, but not as likely to do so for a wife or mother. Our goal at the Wynkoop Center for Women in Ministry is to find ways to help women be better supported and equipped for ministry.” 

In addition to scholarships, the Center provides other programming to help support female students. The Wynkoop Center recently selected two theology students to send to an upcoming Association of Theological Schools event where they will be able to present papers. 

NTS gives thanks to God and to all the generous supporters who helped endow the Elizabeth Choate scholarship. If you are interested in investing in a special project at NTS, please contact the Advancement office at 816.268.5434 or email to


Joshua Sweeden Installed as 8th Dean of the Faculty of NTS

Note: A full copy of Dr. Sweeden’s Installation Address can be viewed here.

Dr. Joshua Sweeden was installed as the 8th Dean of the Faculty of Nazarene Theological Seminary in a chapel service held October 24, 2017 at the NTS campus.

Dr. Sweeden holds a BA in Bible and Christian Ministries from Point Loma Nazarene University, an MDiv from Nazarene Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Practical Theology from Boston University School of Theology. He is an ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene and has served in various ministerial capacities for the denomination including local churches, Nazarene higher education, Global Mission, and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. He is the author of several articles and book chapters, reviews, and denominational publications. Josh lives in Kansas City with his wife, Dr. Nell Becker Sweeden, and their two boys, Eli and Asher.

In his address, Dr. Sweeden noted the challenges of education and ministry in a rapidly changing world and the unique role seminaries can play. “As a result of the shifting landscape, both the church and the academy are having to rediscover themselves in a new era,” said Dr. Sweeden. “And right in the middle of it are seminaries; ecclesial-based graduate schools of theology whose primary task is a practical-theological one.”

Faculty, staff, and friends gather around Dr. Sweeden as Dr. Rowell praysDr. Sweeden shared his vision for academics at NTS. “The task of a seminary is to help the church be the church,” he said. “At Nazarene Theological Seminary, we are not waiting, but moving forward in our task ‘to nourish, nurture, discipline, and resource the pastoral and ecclesial imagination’* We are confident that God has called God’s people for such a time as this.”

The service included charges by representatives of the student body and the seminary faculty. “We’re asking you to set an example for us,” said student leader Abe Powers. “We are charging you not just to lead us to knowledge and provide us with a degree, but to lead us to Christ and worship Him with us.”

Dr. Judith Schwanz offered a charge on behalf of the faculty. “We ask you to hold up for the church the need for a vision of a well-prepared clergy, with deep biblical and theological convictions that inform and shape ministry practice,” said Schwanz. “We also ask you to represent us in the area of theological academia so that the fruits of our Wesleyan heritage serve as a voice and a gift to the Christian Church.” 

Before offering a prayer of consecration and blessing, President-elect Dr. Jeren Rowell affirmed the strong leadership Dr. Sweeden has displayed during the seminary’s recent search for a new president. He also conveyed his enthusiasm about the future, “As we anticipate working together to guide this seminary into its next and exciting chapter, I am delighted for the opportunity to partner with Dr. Sweeden as we forge a fresh path for the continuing and increasing vitality of NTS.”

NTS invites the church to join in prayer for Dr. Sweeden and the ministry of the seminary in the days to come. 

*A phrase quoted from Craig Dykstra in “Pastoral and Ecclesial Imagination.” In Dorothy C. Bass and Craig R. Dykstra. For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub, 2008), 43.


NTS Alum Selected by People Magazine and American Heroes Channel as One of Three Red Bandanna Hero Award Finalists

NTS alum Merideth Spriggs (04), President and Chief Kindness Officer at Caridad, has been selected by People Magazine and the American Heroes Channel as one of three finalists for the Red Bandanna Hero Award for her dedication and innovative approach to help humanize the homeless by providing customer service based street outreach. 

After earning a Masters of Divinity in 2004 from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Spriggs lost her job and became homeless in October of 2008. She overcame and was hired at the San Diego Rescue Mission to work in the Recuperative Care Unit. Determined to make a difference, Spriggs founded Caridad Inc. in 2010 in San Diego to collect socks and underwear donations for local homeless charities, educate the public about the facts of homelessness and create partnerships between legitimate agencies and volunteers. She expanded the charity to Las Vegas when she and her husband relocated in 2013 and joined the Downtown Rangers in 2014 to provide customer service based outreach to the homeless. 

Recognized as a homeless advocate and trusted leader, Spriggs was invited to participate in the 100,000 Homes Campaign; has provided training for Seattle, Boise, and San Diego communities under the 25 Cities Initiative; continues to work with Community Solutions to provide outreach leadership in Southern Nevada under the Built for Zero Campaign; and The City of Las Vegas recognized her with a Citizen of the Month Award in October 2015. Currently, Spriggs serves as the Southern Nevada lead on outreach for the federal 25 Cities Initiative working with federal VA, HUD, and USICH to coordinate ending veterans homelessness. A champion of the housing first model, Spriggs has housed hundreds and helped thousands of homeless. 

A brief bio is featured in People Magazine’s October 30 edition. Spriggs’ story is also featured on 911 Hero: The Red Bandanna Legacy on the American Heroes Channel, October 28 at 10/9 p.m. (EST/PST)

To learn more about Caridad and her ministry, contact Merideth at 702-981-7800 or 


Nazarene Theological Seminary Elects Jeren Rowell As Its 11th President

The trustees of Nazarene Theological Seminary are delighted to announce the election of Dr. Jeren Rowell as the seminary’s 11th president.

Dr. Rowell is well-known for his gifted leadership and theological integrity. He is highly respected by NTS’ broad community, including the Board of General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, NTS trustees, faculty, staff, students and the seminary’s global constituency. Dr. Rowell received approval by the trustees October 12, 2017. Dr. Rowell’s election comes three and a half months after NTS’ previous president, Dr. Carla D. Sunberg, was elected to the Board of General Superintendents.

Friday’s election follows a comprehensive search process that began in late July. Dr. David Downs, chair of the Presidential Search Committee and vice-chair of the NTS trustees, noted the trustees’ confidence in Dr. Rowell, especially “his understanding of the intricacies of graduate-level theological education. Throughout his ministry — as a pastor, an adjunct professor, the editor of Preacher’s Magazine, and as superintendent of the Kansas City District Church of the Nazarene — Dr. Rowell has demonstrated a strong passion for the theological education and practical/professional preparation of ministers in the Wesleyan/holiness tradition.”


“We are pleased with Dr. Rowell’s election as the new NTS president,” said Gustavo A. Crocker on behalf of the Board of General Superintendents. “It is obvious that the Lord has been preparing him for such a time as this. He has been an effective pastor and district superintendent, a gifted writer on both the theology and practice of pastoral ministry, and a committed member and chairman of NTS’ Board of Trustees. The Board of General Superintendents congratulates Nazarene Theological Seminary on the gift of this election.”

Upon accepting the position, Dr. Rowell acknowledged the challenges of the role, but noted that he has great joy and confidence in the future — not of his own power, but of God’s. “We have experienced the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in this process,” he said. “By the grace of God, I’m ready.”

Dr. Josh Sweeden, dean of the NTS faculty, was appreciative of Dr. Rowell’s work with the seminary and looks forward to the future. “Dr. Rowell’s gifts as a pastor-scholar will be a gift to the NTS community,” he said. “As both president and a member of the faculty, Dr. Rowell will further strengthen our academic programs and learning community — academically, spiritually, and professionally. NTS is committed to being a community of Christian wisdom and practice that develops leaders to join in God’s unfolding work in the world. We are excited for the ways Dr. Rowell will lead us forward in response to God’s mission.”

Dr. Rowell served in churches in Nampa, Idaho, and Chicago, Illinois, before pastoring the Shawnee Church of the Nazarene in Kansas from 1991 to 2005 when he was elected Kansas City district superintendent. He has served on the NTS board since 2005, and as chair from 2009 until earlier this year. He attended Trinity Evangelical Seminary and NTS. Dr. Rowell earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northwest Nazarene University, a Master of Arts from Olivet Nazarene University, and a Doctor of Education from Olivet. He has served as an adjunct professor for both NTS and Olivet. Dr. Rowell has authored several books and numerous articles on pastoral theology and practice. He and his wife, Starla, reside in the Kansas City area. 


NTS explores preaching, church music in conference events

Nazarene Theological Seminary hosted attendees from across North America 25-27 September for the Hugh C. Benner Preachers Conference.

This year’s events began with a half-day pre-conference on Church Music and the Christian Year, featuring Karen Westerfield Tucker, professor of worship at Boston University. The pre-conference was part of the Watkins Lectures on Church Music, a series established in memory of Rev. and Mrs. A.C. Watkins.

Tucker’s lectures explored the great heritage of music in the Church and its relevance for today. Special attention was given to the unique place music holds in promoting Christian unity and empowering the witness of those in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.

The preaching conference was entitled Finding Your Rhythm: Preaching the Church Year. The theme explored how the church can proclaim the good news of Christ faithfully through the various seasons of the Christian year and a congregation’s yearly life and rhythm. The conference featured preachers from diverse backgrounds and contexts and included Edgar Diaz, Christa Klosterman, Tara Beth Leach, Jon Middendorf, Brent Peterson, and Stuart Williams. Esteban Trujillo served as the worship leader for the event. The conference concluded with a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Each session included a sermon delivered by one of the featured preachers followed by a panel discussion where preachers and scholars fielded questions submitted by participants. The goal was to explore theological and practical concerns surrounding the task of preaching and equip attendees for their ministry context.

“Sometimes in ministry, it feels like you are all alone,” participant Shannon Green said. “But the NTS Preachers Conference reminds me that others are dealing with difficult questions and conversations in their ministry contexts, too, and it offers practical advice on how to tackle those topics from the pulpit.”

Dan Copp, director of Global Clergy Development, spoke to the affect the conference had in equipping ministers.

“I found the preaching and time of conversation/reflection to be helpful in so many ways, including very practical takeaways for women and men desiring to improve as pastors/preachers,” he said. “I particularly appreciated the rich diversity of contexts, cultures, and styles represented by the preachers.” 

Many attendees also experienced the conference as a time of personal spiritual renewal.

“The conference provided space for me to rest, listen, and fellowship with others called to the preaching life,” participant Donabel Martin said. “It was challenging, resourcing, and most all, life-giving.”

The Preachers Conference is named after Nazarene Theological Seminary’s first president, Hugh C. Benner, who served as president from 1945 to 1952. NTS was pleased to welcome Benner’s daughter, Jan Benner Miller, to be a guest and participant at the conference. A video paying tribute to the legacy of Hugh C. Benner’s ministry was shown at the beginning of the conference and a special collection of photos, books, and letters from his ministry was displayed.

“NTS is privileged to serve as convener of a beautiful diversity of contexts and approaches to the practice of preaching and engagement with God’s Word,” said Josh Sweeden, NTS dean of the faculty. “The Watkins Lecture pre-conference and Preachers Conference are ways we resource the church, a continuation of the legacy of our first president, Dr. Hugh C. Benner.”

For more information on future NTS events, join the NTS mailing list and follow the seminary on social media.


Carla Sunberg Receives Towel and Basin Award 

Nazarene Theological Seminary recently awarded Dr. Carla Sunberg with the Towel and Basin Award at its annual homecoming dinner on Tuesday, September 26. The homecoming dinner provides annual opportunity for alumni and friends to reconnect and celebrate what God is doing through the ministry of NTS 

During the evening’s presentation, Dean of the Faculty Dr. Josh Sweeden presented Sunberg with the award. He spoke of its purpose, ”NTS reserves this award for alumni and friends of the seminary who model within our community the very characteristics of Christ—as seen in the Christ Hymn (Philippians 2:5-11), and in the Gospel of John, when Jesus washes the disciples’ feetFrom a Christian perspective, the towel and basin reflect our theology of leadership. 

Dr. Sweeden shared comments on Dr. Sunberg’s servant leadership during her time as president, which spanned from 2014 until her election as a General Superintendent this past summer. He especially highlighted her pastoral approach, strong work ethic, and her commitment to make NTS a place for all students, She was a champion for underrepresented students. She has helped point NTS on a trajectory to serving a multi-cultural multi-ethnic church. Her advocacy for women in ministry was relentless, and rightly so.” 
Dr. Jeren Rowell, chair of the NTS Board of Trustees, also offered congratulatory comments, “The Board of Trustees congratulates Dr. Sunberg on receiving this year’s Towel & Basin Award. The theme of this award perfectly images the kind of leadership that Dr. Sunberg brought to NTS during her tenure. The future of our Seminary is bright and we thank Dr. Sunberg for leading us toward this hope-filled future.” 

The NTS community invites all to join the seminary in prayer as the board of trustees continues its work to elect the next president. Stay up to date on NTS news and events by joining the NTS mailing list and following NTS on social media.