Rev. Dr. David Kersten came to North Park Theological Seminary in the fall of 2012, ready to lead the school in its continuing mission to prepare individuals to serve the church, a mission he actively participated in as both a student and a pastor. Now he serves as an administrator in North Park’s parent denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). “I was excited about the opportunity to participate in the shaping of a generation of vocational leaders for the whole church and a generation of people going into Covenant ministry, specifically,” says Rev. Dr. Kersten.
“The Seminary has always been at the center of mission for the ECC, particularly in the area of maintaining identity and cohesion, historically and theologically,” says Rev. Dr. Kersten.
Rev. Dr. Kersten believes that seminary education is vital for anyone anticipating a call to the pastorate or another position of service to the church. You still need a grounding in the classics to be a Christian leader, according to Rev. Dr. Kersten. You need Bible, theology, and history—and these are the things that seminaries do really well. In these disciplines, you get some basic tools that you will use the rest of your vocational life.
North Park Theological Seminary’s uniqueness comes from its grounding in the tradition of the ECC to be fully evangelical and fully ecumenical. North Park has this broad form of evangelicalism. Rev. Dr. Kersten thinks that is an immense help to any minister and a real reason to come here.
He points to the nature of the community at the Seminary as another strong draw for students. This includes a commitment to individual attention, care, and mentoring. Plus, an emphasis on spiritual formation and spiritual direction; and the participation of exceptional faculty and staff in students’ discernment process.
Looking toward the future, Rev. Dr. Kersten sees the issue of connecting theological education to the whole church as an essential development. He asserts that all seminaries will have to accept the broader church vision that blurs the lines between lay ministers and clergy and the roles they play. “The seminary of the future is going to embrace this reality and create programs that connect the whole church to significant theological education and formation,” says Rev. Dr. Kersten.
Rev. Dr. Kersten also believes that North Park Theological Seminary is poised to do this well. “We are a people and a culture that bridges gaps and makes connections. The University and Seminary, located in the world-class city of Chicago, and situated in what is considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, are ideally situated to provide a learning laboratory for gospel connections,” exclaims Rev. Dr. Kersten,
Ordained to word and sacrament in the ECC, Rev. Dr. Kersten served as pastor to congregations in Alabama, Florida, Washington, and Minnesota before accepting a call to serve the denomination as executive minister of the Department of the Ordered Ministry for 11 years.