Center for World Christian Studies Receives $270K

North Park Theological Seminary students

CHICAGO (February 1, 2010) – The Center for World Christian Studies (CWCS) at North Park Theological Seminary received a large boost recently, when it was given $270,000 from the Evangelical Covenant Church Department of World Mission.

The funds came from the sale of the Covenant Bible College (CBC) campus in Le Merced, Ecuador. The campus was sold in June 2009 to Ecuador’s National Police for $1.5 million. The Ecuador campus was the last of three campuses to be sold.

CBC, which offered a one-year intentional discipleship program, closed the campus in 2007, along with its site in Strathmore, Alberta. The campus in Windsor, Colo., was closed in 2006. Declining enrollment and increased costs forced the school closure.

The gift to the Seminary was presented to North Park's executive vice president and chief financial officer Carl Balsam during a recent ceremony, and will serve as a trust fund for the program. The initial outlay from the fund will be a $25,000 grant this year and $30,000 a year in the future, says Byron Amundsen, World Mission director of administration and finance.

Paul de Neui, associate professor of intercultural studies and missiology at the Seminary, will direct the CWCS. The cooperative venture with World Mission aims to enhance the ability of students to minister cross-culturally abroad and in the United States.

Seminary president and dean Jay Phelan said that many of the students from CBC eventually trained at North Park. Phelan noted that former educators at CBC now teach at the Seminary. Debra Auger is the dean of students and community life, and her husband, Robert, is the director of Youth Nexus. Robert Auger had served as executive director of CBC Ecuador.

De Neui, who was in Thailand when the ceremony was held January 14, said “It is amazing to see the gift of CBC continue to give and promote a new generation of missional leaders.”

Initial activities sponsored by the center will include a course next March in which students will travel to Ecuador to learn of the ministry challenges in that nation. The CWCS also will sponsor a Seminary faculty member to teach at the Confraternity of Hispanic Covenant Churches Triennial that will be held in Argentina later this year.

“We feel it is especially important to have a multidirectional relationship between the Seminary and many national churches that are now mature and asking us for partners to join them,” De Neui said.

The CWCS will also coordinate regional seminars, provide non-formal theological training opportunities around the world, develop a means of testing and measuring improvement of intercultural ministry skills, and develop interdisciplinary courses and ministry experiences.

Students at the North Park University will benefit from the gift, as well. The CWCS will coordinate with the University Ministries Global Partnership Program and open one mission course per year to undergraduate students.