Alumni Profile: Curtis Ivanoff S’08
When reflecting on his time and education at North Park Theological Seminary, three main ideas come to Curtis Ivanoff S’08: rich community, a deepening love and care for the ministry of the church, and more fully realizing how broad God’s love is. All of these are reflected in his work as field director for the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska.
A lifelong, fourth generation member of the ECC in Alaska, Curtis served at both his home church in the village of Unalakleet and at Alaska Christian College before taking a year of sabbatical to finish a master of arts in Christian ministry (MACM). He had already completed some graduate Bible and theology courses on a part-time basis, and also earned credit for work done through the Covenant Orientation Program in his process of being credentialed for service in the ECC. Curtis was able to transfer his previous credits to North Park Theological Seminary, making it possible to complete the MACM in one year of full-time study in Chicago. He was also awarded a Covenant Diversity Scholarship, which he says “was a big deal, a big provision” in making it possible to move his family to Chicago.
The community Curtis found at the Seminary and in Chicago is one of the first things he tells people about his experience. “The community is rich. The people that you’re learning with, the people you’re growing with, the support from each other. That was a really rich piece,” he says. “We made great friends; lifelong friends who we still keep in touch with.”
Not only were his classmates a part of his community experience, but Curtis also counts the faculty as a big part of the community experience. “The professors—I had a great experience through their teaching. It was very enriching and I felt like I was drawn deeper into God’s heart. It wasn’t just about books and papers and knowledge.”
Faculty and classes were also instrumental in Curtis’s deepening awareness of the work of the church in the world. “During Seminary, my heart grew for the ministry of the church in a big way,” he says. “It was, in large part, through church history class. This helped me to see more of the bigger picture. So when I came back from Seminary, my heart was really stirred. I was all the more open to a call to a church.”
After graduation, Curtis and his family returned to Alaska, where he served for two more years at Alaska Christian College. He then accepted a call to serve as the field director for the ECC of Alaska, a job he says can be summed up as being a “shepherd of the church.” In this role he works with pastors and churches throughout the state, training, encouraging, and helping to develop church leaders for both the city and rural parts of Alaska. His time at North Park Theological Seminary played a significant role in developing a deep awareness of God’s love for people in all times and places, something he keeps close to his heart as he is serving others.
“I realized how deep and wide and broad and high God’s love is for the world, for us, for me. I realized that there’s such a depth to our faith, to God’s story, because I was able to read scripture in community—with people from the past, with new friends I made at Seminary. It helped me realize how God’s story is the main story, and we’re invited to join in on that and discover that our story is completed in Christ. God’s story became a little clearer. I still carry that with me.”