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Carla Sunberg Inaugurated as Tenth President of Nazarene Theological Seminary


On Thursday, October 2, Nazarene Theological Seminary celebrated the inauguration of its tenth president, Carla D. Sunberg.  The service took place in the NTS J. B. Chapman Memorial Chapel on the Seminary’s Kansas City campus.  Sunberg was elected president on January 3.

The service included greetings and words of congratulations from sister institutions, former Presidents, and representatives from the international church, faculty, alumni association, the laity, and the student body and her family, the latter two delivered by her daughter, Rev. Cara Shonamon.  In addition to the service being a celebration of all that has taken place at NTS since her election in January, including an increased summer enrollment, increased giving from donors and the largest Seminarian Offering in 6 years, Dr. Sunberg delivered an inaugural address that cast a challenging and exciting vision for the future of Nazarene Theological Seminary. 

Following the investiture ceremony during which Dr. Jeren Rowell, Chair of the NTS Board of Trustees, officially installed Sunberg as President, prayers of consecration were offered for her by Dr. Nina Gunter, General Superintendent Emerita, Dr. David Busic, General Superintendent, and Dr. Gerald Johnson, General Superintendent Emeritus and father of Dr. Sunberg. 

Prior to her election, Sunberg was co-district superintendent for East Ohio with her husband, Chuck.  They were called to East Ohio while pastoring at Grace Point Church of the Nazarene in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Carla served as pastor of evangelism and discipleship.

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.

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 Doctory of Divinity.

Dr. Sunberg 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.

Dr. Sunberg closed her inaugural address by sharing, “When elected to this position a friend wrote and said, ‘I’m not so much worried about what it [the Seminary] looks like five years from now as I am about the fact that it still exists as an indispensable partner in ministerial preparation and competency for God-called ministers to a complex and needy world.’”

Sunberg’s conclusion and response were as follows:  “The winds may blow in ways we have never imagined and the look may never be the same, but may we allow the wind to take us in the direction of God’s leading and may this place, this Seminary continue to be that ‘indispensable partner’ united together with God and with the Church in faithful service to God’s mission in the world.  With God all things are possible!”

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