Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) elected Carla Sunberg as its tenth president on January 3. Sunberg, the first woman president in the school’s history, was elected on the first ballot and accepted the position.
The election followed a discussion by the NTS Board of Trustees that resulted in a call for leadership to focus on repurposing the seminary with a strong emphasis on pastoral preparation for the Church of the 21st Century.
“This decision by the Board of Trustees is a bold statement about our confidence in the future of the Seminary,” said Jeren Rowell, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Dr. Sunberg is an experienced leader with the academic and ministry credentials necessary to lead NTS in preparing the next generation of pastors to lead the Church in joining God’s redemptive mission in this world.”
Sunberg is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene. She was ordained during the 13 years that she and her husband Chuck served as missionaries in the former Soviet Union, where she served as director of compassionate ministries as well as director of theological education.
In 2005, the Sunbergs returned to the U. S. and pastored at Grace Point Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Carla served as pastor of evangelism and discipleship. In 2011, she and Chuck accepted a call to serve as co-district superintendents for East Ohio.
“With her experience in leading the educational system in the Commonwealth of Independent States Field and the depth of her theological training in both America and Europe, Dr. Sunberg brings to Nazarene Theological Seminary a fresh and broad perspective that will help her lead the institution to a future of missional effectiveness and doctrinal coherence,” said Gustavo Crocker, Church of the Nazarene general superintendent.
Carla has a Ph.D in historical theology from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, a Master of Arts from Nazarene Theological Seminary and a Bachelors of Science from MidAmerica Nazarene University. In 2012, Olivet Nazarene University awarded her an honorary Doctor of Divinity.
Carla has served on the General Board, the governing board of the Nazarene denomination; on the NTS Board of Trustees; as Alumni Association president for NTS; as member and chairperson of the USA/Canada Region’s Nazarene Women Clergy Council; and as member of the Church of the Nazarene’s Pensions & Benefits USA Board. In addition, after serving on its board as the official representative for the Church of the Nazarene, Carla also served as president of Wesleyan-Holiness Women Clergy.
She is the co-author (with Gene Van Note) of Faxes from Russia (Beacon Hill Press, 1996) and has authored numerous articles for various church publications. This spring, her book (co-written with Suzanne Burden and Jamie Wright), Reclaiming Eve: The Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God, will be released.
Sunberg is passionate about the integration of practical ministry and theological education. She loves to teach and train leaders for the future of the church and has served as adjunct faculty for a number of institutions. She was born in Germany, the daughter of missionaries. Her heartfelt passion is a life of holiness and service for the Lord.
Chuck and Carla are proud parents of two adult daughters, Christa, who along with her husband Iain Maciver lives in England, and Cara, who with her husband Justin Shonamon, lives in Kansas City.