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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. 


NTS Seeks Applicants for Faculty Position

Nazarene Theological Seminary seeks a professor (open rank) with demonstrated expertise in evangelism/Christian witness and the ability to contribute to the core curriculum of the seminary in a corresponding discipline such as Church History, Theology, Philosophical Theology, Contextual Theology, Old Testament, Practical Theology or Pastoral Theology. Responsibilities will include teaching graduate introductory and specialized courses, advising doctor of ministry students, and participation in the spiritual formation of students. Additionally, it is anticipated that this professor will serve as the Smith/Cooper Chair of Evangelism and will advance research and scholarship on the theology and practice of evangelism.

Ideal candidates will hold a terminal degree, preferably a Ph.D. or Th.D., and have a record of excellence in teaching, scholarship, and ecclesial practice. NTS faculty teach in online/hybrid and traditional formats. Candidates should demonstrate familiarity with changing ministerial contexts and innovative approaches to teaching and Christian practice.

Nazarene Theological Seminary is a graduate school of theology in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition that prepares women and men—academically, professionally, and spiritually—for ministry in various contexts. As part of its mission, NTS seeks to be a theological resource to the Church of the Nazarene and the broader Christian Church. NTS offers four master’s degrees, a doctor of ministry degree, and various courses and events through its Center for Pastoral Leadership. Candidates must share a Wesleyan perspective and affirm the theological identity and mission of NTS.

Review of applications will begin November 10, 2017. The position will be open until filled. NTS is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Candidates from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.

Application materials should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae with a list of at least three references, and a 500-word (max) statement that describes the candidate’s pedagogical approach and scholarly agenda.

Please submit all materials electronically to: Please include “Faculty position – YOUR NAME” as the subject line.


A Global Community of Scholars

Jay Blossom from The In Trust Center for Theological Schools recently interviewed Dr. Carla Sunberg and Dr. Josh Sweeden about the exciting ways Nazarene Theological Seminary is partnering with six other graduate schools of theology around the world. The global consortium of schools encourages innovation and collaboration. “We’ve been coming together both to learn and figure out how the resources of one school can help the others,” said Dr. Sunberg. 

Through the use of videoconferencing technology, NTS is able to offer a truly global learning experience. When asked about the benefit of such partnerships to students of NTS, Dr. Sweeden said, “It increases the diversity of our faculty and gives students access to that diversity.”

Read the full interview here

To learn more about our academic programs, visit!


NTS Partners with Puerto Rico


Nazarene Theological Seminary Receives Major Gift to Fully Endow a Chair of Evangelism 

Nazarene Theological Seminary is excited to announce a 1.6 million dollar gift from the Smith family to complete funding for the NTS faculty chair of evangelism. The Smith family gift combines with funds firstreceived in 1971 from Frank A. and Gladys L. Cooper, and recent gifts from friends and board members of NTS, to fully endow the Adam Smith/Copper Chair of Evangelism.

These gifts will enable NTS to increase educational opportunities, course offerings, and scholarly contributions in the area/study of evangelism and Christian witness. The generosity of the Smith and Cooper families ensures focused attention and resources will be devoted to the vital practice of evangelism for generations to come, for both the benefit of NTS students and the church.

As a seminary rooted in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, NTS draws from a well-spring of rich theology and innovative models of Christian witness. The early evangelical tradition recognized the holistic nature of the gospel, and recovered ancient yet timely practices for proclaiming the good news in a variety of contexts. Such commitment and innovation is desperately needed today as pastors, leaders, and laity engage a dynamic world full of new challenges and opportunities. 

The 1.6 million dollar gift is representative of the Smith family’s commitment to evangelism and passion for the proclamation of good news. Recognizing the timeless call of Christians to be witnesses of God’s saving work, the gift is future-looking, supporting a rediscovery of the practice of evangelism faithful to Christian scripture and tradition and attentive to the changing contexts and expressions of the church. The Coopers provided initial funding for NTS’ work in evangelism in the 1970s and then again in the 1980s. Those funds provided a partial endowment and supported past NTS professors (Chic Shaver, Chuck Gailey, and Lyle Pointer), courses, and scholarships in the study of evangelism. 

As NTS prepares ministers of the gospel in service to God’s ever-expanding and multi-faceted church, it celebrates the many partners who make possible a variety of courses in evangelism, church planting and development, and ministerial entrepreneurship. In addition, NTS has a Certificate in Evangelism which provides focused study on the theology and practice of evangelism for ministerial leaders interested in resourcing persons and communities toward faithful Christian witness in the contemporary world. 


New NTS grants to fund ministerial entrepreneurship, distance learning programs

Nazarene Theological Seminary received grants from the Association of Theological Schools for faculty development and innovative programming. 

A $50,000 Innovation Grant will support the development of a new NTS initiative, Entrepreneurship and Ministry in the 21st Century. In collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation, NTS will develop curriculum and training opportunities for local pastors and church districts.

“Today’s pastors and ministry leaders must be creative, adaptive, and forward-thinking in their ministry contexts,” said Josh Sweeden, dean of the faculty. “The ministerial entrepreneurship curriculum combines critical theological reflection with increasingly important skills in entrepreneurship and innovation.”

A $15,000 Faculty Development Grant will support NTS faculty in the implementation of new hybrid learning approaches for distance education students.

The grant coincides with NTS’ revised residency format for distance Master of Divinity students, which creates robust, face-to-face learning through four one-week encounters in Kansas City, Missouri, each October. The learning format emphasizes deeper interaction between faculty and students, increased resources for ongoing personal and spiritual formation, and reduced travel, food, and lodging costs for most distance students. 

For more information, send an email to


Dr. Carla Sunberg Elected General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene

The 2017 General Assembly Delegation elected Dr. Carla Sunberg as its 43rd General Superintendent. Dr. Sunberg is the second woman to be elected as a General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. 

At the time of her election, Dr. Sunberg was president of Nazarene Theological Seminary, where she has served since January 2014. Carla was the first woman president in the seminary’s history. Her passion for the Church, missions, education and the Gospel of Jesus Christ—along with her extensive experience and boundless energy—combined to make Dr. Sunberg an especially effective leader at Nazarene Theological Seminary. Through her leadership, NTS is entering an exciting new chapter with innovative academic programs, critical scholarship and vital resources for the church. Dr. Sunberg will now apply her considerable talents and experience in service to the denomination as General Superintendent. The NTS community looks forward to the ways God will continue to use Dr. Sunberg to provide leadership to the church in service to God’s mission.

Dr. Jeren Rowell, chair of the NTS Board of Trustees, issued the following statement: “Trusting the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the Board of Trustees celebrates the election of President Sunberg to the office of general superintendent. Under Dr. Sunberg’s leadership, Nazarene Theological Seminary (Kansas City) enjoys a position of strength both today and into the future. We stride forward in the confidence that God, who has provided for NTS so abundantly, will continue to provide as we seek a new president.”

In accordance with NTS Bylaws, The Board of Trustees will immediately begin the search process for the next president of the seminary. Preparations for NTS’ next academic year are underway; NTS will welcome a strong incoming class of students in August and anticipates continued strength for many years to come. We thank Dr. Sunberg for her vital leadership to NTS and the Church!


Nazarene Theological Seminary Celebrates 71st Commencement

May 7, 2017 – The 71st Spring Commencement activities were held at Kansas City First Church of the  Nazarene.  

“Our intention was not just for you to finish with a degree. Our intention has always been for you to begin and to continue faithful and effective ministry throughout your life,” said Dr. Roger Hahn to the 2017 graduating class. Dr. Hahn was the commencement speaker as he retires after fifteen years as Dean of the Faculty. He will continue teaching at NTS.

Forty-seven graduates of the class of 2017 received the following degrees:

  • 25 Master of Divinity degrees
    • 2 of these students completed their validated Course of Study for Ordination
  • 15 Master of Arts degrees
  • 7 Doctor of Ministry degrees

Thirteen certificates were earned in the following disciplines:

  • Certificate in Chaplaincy Ministries
  • Certificate in Christian Discipleship
  • Certificate in Collaborative Urban Ministry and Development
  • Certificate in Pastoral Counseling
  • Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Also, seven diplomas were awarded:

  • 5 in Cross-Cultural Ministries, our 365m program
  • 1 in Youth and Family Ministry
  • 1 in Children and Family Ministries

This year’s graduates represented nine countries including the United States, India, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, New Zealand and South Africa. Congratulations!



Celebration and Excitement Highlight the Spring Board of Trustee Meeting at Nazarene Theological Seminary

The Board of Trustees for Nazarene Theological Seminary met on April 6, 2017 on the NTS Campus in Kansas City, MO.

“We are excited about where NTS has come the last four years under the leadership of Dr. Carla Sunberg our President,” said Rev. Dr. Jeren Rowell (video interview), Kansas City District Superintendent and NTS Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “We are experiencing excitement and vibrancy and anticipation of what the future will hold for us as God continues to lead us into the future.”

NTS will soon roll out new academic programs to help students better pursue their theological education in a fast-changing world. Our strong faculty is a valuable resource to students, the denomination and the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. The NTS Center for Pastoral Leadership is a tremendous resource for all who desire to grow and earn continuing education units throughout the entire arc of their ministry. NTS is serving the community in significant ways, including rehabbing area homes for student housing, leading the RefreshKC neighborhood painting project and more.

Finally, the latest Board of Trustee meeting focused on celebration. A dinner was held in Dr. Roger Hahn’s honor, as he will soon step aside as Dean of Faculty, but continue teaching at NTS. Dr. Hahn has provided fifteen years of faithful and effective service and has impacted so many lives at NTS and beyond. “Dr. Hahn is a man who loves God and who has given himself in wholehearted service to the kingdom and the church. He is a great scholar who will continue to shape our biblical understanding for years to come. I am personally grateful for the wisdom he has freely shared and for his many years of humble service. His leadership as Dean of the Faculty will be missed, but I am thankful that he will continue to serve on the NTS faculty, even after he steps down as Dean next year,” said Dr. Carla Sunberg.

Dr. Josh Sweeden will assume the role of Dean of Faculty on July 1, 2017 and will help lead NTS into the future!



Creating an Endowed Scholarship as a Way to Honor Those We Love

Rev. J. Paul Downey Scholarship Endowment Fund 

This endowment scholarship is to honor a wonderful father for his profound and thoughtful thinking. He was known for his loving pastoral work and his scholarship in the ministry. 

Carolyn Downey, daugher of J. Paul and Ruth Downey

J. Paul Downey was born in Bethany, Oklahoma on March 24,1914. His parents, Ed and Cornelia Downey, could not decide on his first name—all the ones they discussed started with the letter “J” and so they decided to just use the “J.” as his first name. They called him Paul.

My grandfather was a construction supervisor and built the first building at Bethany Nazarene College, now Southern Nazarene University. This original administration building is today’s Bresee Hall.

When father was five, the family moved to Pasadena, California where they attended Bresee Nazarene Church. Later, father attended Pasadena College, a Nazarene University, and graduated in 1936. During his college years, he met his wife and my mother, Ruth Willis, and they married after father’s graduation. Immediately after the wedding, father was assigned to ministry in the far-away state of Alabama.

My parents served in several ministries while in Alabama. Dad was a young dynamic minister and mother was a talented music director. My father walked several miles to the University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa) where he received his Master’s Degree. Needless to say, he became a lifelong Crimson Tide fan!

A few years later, my parents moved to Selma, Alabama. I was born in Selma on June 3, 1939. My parents had a two-room wooden home with a wood stove and an outhouse. Father talked about all the unpainted shacks around the church and how sad it was. The church in Selma was small with lots of windows which dad would have wide open. 

Father would often tell the story about how deeply-rooted segregation was in the south. African Americans were not even allowed inside their church. In spite of that, African Americans would come for services and sit around the outside of the church. They would sit on the ground, sing the songs and amen the messages with a deep spirituality and great soulfulness. Often, there were more people outside the church than inside. The culture of the South, especially in regard to segregation, was quite a revelation for my parents. Years later, in the 1970s, I went to visit her birthplace and saw the house and church that were still the same. The unpainted shacks were still there with lots of family members on the porches and steps.

Here is a photo of my parents outside their home which was a two-room house with an out-house in the back.  You can also see a portion of the church in the background.

Often, our church in Selma was unable to pay my father’s salary, but we were never in need of food. The parishioners would bring food and quilted blankets to our family. My uncle, Dick Willis, would send some of his salary for my parents to live on. Uncle Dick even bought them their first china set which mother used for years as she entertained in the parsonage.

My parents were always upset about the bigotry in the south and could not adjust to treating people this way, so they decided to go back to California.  They moved to Merced, California where father pastored for five years.  There were two different church buildings during this time. 

Father built a new church and parsonage in Merced, California. It’s a church that Ruth and Carolyn visited from time to time over the years.  It was fun for them to see it still intact as a non-denominational church with great spiritual parishioners. When the our family left Merced, a young man named Jim Jackson took father’s place. Interestingly Jim is now the chaplain at White Sands; he celebrated mother’s 98th and 99th birthdays with her and also came to pray with her the day she passed. 

After Merced, we moved to Walla Walla, Washington where we lived for eight years. Father pastored the First Nazarene Church. During this time, mother went back to school at Whitman College where she completed the two years needed to receive her Bachelor’s Degree and then continued to achieve her Master’s Degree.  

After Walla Walla, father pastored for five years the First Church of the Nazarene in Yakima, Washington then we moved to Phoenix, Arizona where father pastored the First Church of the Nazarene and mother was in charge of the music as well as teaching full time. My parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary while in Phoenix.  

During his years as a pastor, father was very active in District Assemblies and General Assemblies. He was known for his scholarly yet down to earth messages.  Father told me that it was difficult to keep people’s attention for more than 15 minutes, so he prepared messages to last no longer than 15 minutes and always had a beginning, three points will scriptural reference and a story, and ended with a summary. He was a smart man!

J. Paul Downey passed away on February 13, 1970 of a cerebral hemorrhage a few weeks before his 56th birthday while changing planes in Chicago. He was greatly missed. With donations which came in to honor his life, several churches were built in Mexico.

The following are two photos of Paul with his wife, Ruth, just before he passed away.


Nazarene Theological Seminary Partners with Missio Alliance

Nazarene Theological Seminary has partnered with Missio Alliance to further God’s mission by transforming lives, leadership, and communities.

“NTS is a missional seminary serving a missional church,” said Carla Sunberg, NTS president. “We believe that God is calling together like-hearted and like-minded sisters and brothers in the faith who are uniting in the mission of God.”

Sunberg is a featured speaker at the Missio Alliance Awakenings event, April 27 to 29, in Alexandria, Virginia. There will be more than 50 diverse presenters focused on three key areas: spiritual warfare, personal discipleship, and community transformation.

Missio Alliance seeks to work alongside and between churches, denominations, schools, and networks of different kinds to see the Church in North America more fully and faithfully equipped for participation in God’s mission.

“Partnering and working together with organizations like Missio Alliance helps NTS and all of us make a greater difference in a fast-changing world,” Sunberg said. “We’re excited to further our partnership with Missio Alliance in the years to come.”

NTS and Missio Alliance also partnered for the #SheLeads event in October 2016.

Nazarene Theological Seminary


An Invitation to a Pre-General Assembly Prayer Retreat  

Important: Rates for this retreat will increase slightly after April 30th.

June 19 - 20

Would you like to join with others for a 24-hour period of prayer and reflection just prior to the General Conventions & Assembly events in Indianapolis? Good news! Such an opportunity will be provided: 

  • When: Monday afternoon, June 19 – Tuesday afternoon, June 20, 2017 
  • Where: Benedict Inn Retreat & Conference Center, Indianapolis (just a 15 minute drive from the Convention Center) 
  • What: An overnight retreat with shared meals, Scripture presentations based on Ephesians 4:1-16, community & private prayer, and rest 
  • Who: Developed and led by Deidre Brower-Latz (Nazarene Theological College-Manchester), Rhonda Carrim (Northwest Nazarene University), Terry Fach (Ambrose University), Doug Hardy (Nazarene Theological Seminary), Rebecca Laird (Point Loma Nazarene University), and Doug VanNest (Mount Vernon Nazarene University) 
  • Why: In response to Jesus’ invitation to us as his disciples to “Come away … and rest a while” (Mark 6:31) 

Click here to read more!


Corlett Sermon Finalist to Preach March 21st at Chapel

Premal Awasarmal, Kelcie Exline and Jason Phelps have been selected by a faculty subcommittee as finalists in the Corlett Senior Sermon. Please come to chapel in the Koinonia Café on Tuesday, March 21st, at noon with your lunch to hear and support them. The full faculty will then vote for the winner who will represent the graduating class by preaching on Commencement Sunday, May 7th, at Kansas City First Church during their morning services.

This prestigious preaching award dates back to the founding of the seminary in 1945, and includes a cash prize and recognition on the Corlett plaque hanging in the second floor.


NTS Awarded Financial Literacy Grant

Lilly Endowment Inc. recently awarded Nazarene Theological Seminary a $125,000 sustainability grant to continue its work in the critical area of financial literacy for the next generation of pastors and other church leaders. NTS was one of more than 50 theological schools in the United States to receive an initial three-year grant in 2014 to implement a program to encourage seminarians to graduate with manageable (or no) educational debt. The NTS Center for Pastoral Leadership (CPL) has headed up this work, which has included extensive counseling and educational efforts directed primarily at new students, and ongoing campus educational initiatives open to the entire student body, seminary faculty and staff. These efforts are having a great impact! According to the U.S. Department of Education, NTS has the lowest student loan default ranking in Missouri and is tied for the lowest default rate in the nation—with an amazing 0% default rate! This sustainability grant from Lilly Endowment will enable the NTS CPL to continue these important initiatives and cooperate with the denomination’s larger efforts to ensure financial wellness for all Nazarene pastors.


Updated Alumni Association Constitution

Our most recent version of the Alumni Association Constitution is available at In the fall of 2016 your alumni council recommended a few changes that were then approved by the NTS Board of Trustees and affirmed by a vote of the Alumni. This constitution reflects those revisions. 

Dr. Steve Estep
President, NTS Alumni Association 


Your Gift is Needed!

By Tim McPherson, Dean for Advancement

“What do you need?” That is a question often asked of family and friends as a part of the Christmas giving tradition. Oft’ times the answer is, “Oh, I don’t really need anything.” Such an answer, however honest it may be, rarely prevents loved ones from giving. Such is love. Though humankind may not have known their desperate need, God gave his only begotten son. Such is the Gospel.

This season, consider a meaningful gift to Nazarene Theological Seminary “to prepare faithful and effective ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” It’s a gift that reaches family, friends and beyond to impact the world in which we live. The Seminary relies upon your support during this season of generosity to help fund its mission year ‘round. Quite frankly, as the calendar year concludes, NTS needs your gifts—both large and small.


Cyber Monday, November 28

Our CPL membership subscription will be specially priced for gifting to your favorite pastor or church leader. Stay tuned for more details!

Giving Tuesday, November 29

Please join NTS on Giving Tuesday. There are many ways to support NTS:

End of Year Gifts, before December 31

Gifts to NTS are tax deductible! FYI: Donors over the age of 70.5 may now plan each year to make transfers directly from an IRA to a charity (In December 2015 the Path Act made the IRA rollover permanent!

The Seminarian Offering, January 29

Preparations have already begun for this essential offering to be taken on Sunday, January 29, 2017. If each church would tell the story of NTS and take an offering that amounts to at least $1 per church member or attender (whichever is larger), it would dramatically increase the support of NTS. Every dollar invested provides tuition assistance, teacher salaries, multicultural programs, continuing education, library books, technological services, student housing, building improvements and much more! Be watching the mail for instructions and posters. Click here for more information and resources:

We give thanks for the faithful and generous friends of NTS.