Dave Kersten Installed as Dean of North Park Theological Seminary

Rev. David W. Kersten was installed as the Dean of North Park Theological Seminary on Sunday, September 16, 2012.
Rev. Dr. Dave Kersten greets University Dean of Students Andrea Nevels after the convocation worship service.

New leader installed as part of annual Fall Convocation

CHICAGO (September 18, 2012) – Rev. Dr. David W. Kersten was installed as the 11th dean of North Park Theological Seminary (NPTS) September 16 as the Seminary celebrated its annual Fall Convocation, welcoming new and returning students for the academic year. The event, held at the University's Anderson Chapel, was webcast to an international audience by North Park University.

"I am profoundly aware of the many shoulders I stand upon, and I'm grateful for the heritage and legacy of North Park Theological Seminary," Kersten said in response. "I want to express my deep appreciation to the entire faculty, staff, and the interim leadership team that guided the Seminary through a season of transition and a lengthy search process. In this new role, my goal is to keep student formation and learning the focal point of our work."

Presiding at the Convocation, Dr. David Parkyn, University president, described the convocation as having two parts — the installation of the dean and the reception of new students. With a smile, he described these components as "the dean in waiting, and the dean at work," he said. "This convocation today in all of its parts is a moment of true joy. Make this a wonderful, joy-filled gathering today, and we'll praise God as we do so." The congregation — those attending in-person and those watching in the United States and globally via webcast — were "a representation of a host of God's people," Parkyn observed.

In a homily titled "Nothing is Impossible with God," Rev. Dr. James R. Sandberg, pastor of Trinity Evangelical Covenant Church, Oak Lawn, Ill., said the day was about God. "God has gifted you — given you all the gifts needed at this pivotal point," he said. Sandberg challenged Seminary students, Kersten, and the faculty to carry in their hearts that "nothing is impossible with God."

Kersten began his duties at the seminary August 1. He was formally called into his new role at the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) this past summer after he was nominated by the University board of trustees, following a process of study and deliberation. Both the University and the Seminary are affiliated with the ECC.

Parkyn led the installation litany that included sections delivered by Paul Hawkinson, Green Oaks, Ill., vice-chair of the University board of trustees, speaking on behalf of University leaders; Rev. Dr. Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, NPTS associate professor of theology and ethics, on behalf of the Seminary community; and Rev. Gary Walter, ECC president, on behalf of the ECC. Rev. Deborah Penny, NPTS associate director of field education, led a prayer of dedication. Parkyn presented Kersten a Celtic Cross as a symbol of his leadership appointment. As many as eight representatives of seminaries of other denominations and faith traditions were represented.

New and returning Seminary students were introduced and welcomed by Rev. Dr. Stephen Chester, acting dean of academic programs, and Rev. Deborah Auger, dean of students and community life.

In his charge to students, Kersten cited Song of Solomon 2:10: 'Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." While acknowledging that the verse has been interpreted in many ways, he characterized it as a call to action, and urged students and faculty to hear God's voice, and allow themselves to receive God's love.

"Hear the invitation, the charge, even the command: 'Arise my love, my fair one, and come away' in this new season of your lives," he said.

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