North Park's Inaugural Seminary Alumni Award for Distinguished Service
Rev. Dr. Robert L. Owens S’94
“I’ve made four good decisions in my life: one, to follow Jesus Christ; two, to marry my wife; three, to join the Evangelical Covenant Church; and four, to attend North Park Theological Seminary.”
In 2014 North Park University presented a new honor to recognize Seminary alumni who have made significant contributions in their field while living a life reflective of the core values and mission of North Park Theological Seminary
The inaugural honoree is Rev. Dr. Robert L. Owens, superintendent of the Southeast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, which oversees 45 churches in six southern states. The award was presented on January 28 at an evening reception hosted by North Park during the ECC’s Midwinter Conference in Chicago.
Both honored and “very humbled” by the award, Dr. Owens said the Seminary was responsible for “academically shaping me and allowing me to go deeper in my pursuit of theological truth and become more of a critical thinker. The Seminary also helped me to learn about others who have given their lives for Christ, which was humbling and motivating. I realized that if they could do what they did, the spirit of God can do the same for me.”
Seminary leaders and professors were excellent academics, he said, but they also reflected a “priestly caring spirit that created a different kind of learning environment in the Seminary. It helped us all to live out the call of Jesus—to be inclusive, Kingdom-minded, caring, and shepherding.”
Dr. Owens said that the Seminary is valuable to train and prepare students for the ministry. “But it cannot affirm your calling. It is the Holy Spirit who affirms your calling, and the people you serve who provide the confirmation.”
In his work today, said Dr. Owens, “We are in challenging times and need to prepare for a new future. But what remains constant is our commitment to our core values: reaching the lost; nurturing the faithful; transforming lives; and reflecting the Kingdom. And it’s the latter that really gets me jazzed, as we are a very diverse Conference—and we have a lot of fun.”
Dr. Owens said he is “extremely grateful for how God has shaped and orchestrated my journey through the Seminary and with the ECC. It is always God at work, and he will direct us to the future that he wants for our church.”
His best memories of his Seminary years, he said, begin with the “fellowship of being with others and sharing different perspectives about Scripture. Going to the library was always a precious time for me, as well as being in chapel for worship.” He also enjoyed “the richness of North Park and the neighborhood which caters to such a diverse population. I loved the food!” Dr. Owens’ previous work in ministry included serving as the founding pastor of New Life Covenant Church, Atlanta, and pastoring an inner-city church in Compton, Calif. He has served as chair of the Executive Board of the Southeast Conference, and as a member of the board of trustees for North Park University. He holds a master of divinity from the Seminary, a master in public administration from Pepperdine University, and a doctor of ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary. Dr. Owens and his wife, Mary Ann, have three children: Eric, Ian, and Marc.