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June 05, 2022

North Park Appoints New Dean of the Seminary and Vice President for Church Relations

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North Park University has appointed Rev. Dennis R. Edwards, PhD as Dean of North Park Theological Seminary and Vice President for Church Relations. He will report directly to North Park President Mary K. Surridge and serve as a member of her senior leadership team, beginning August 1, 2022.

Rev. Dennis R. Edwards

Rev. Dr. Edwards, ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church, is a highly accomplished New Testament Scholar with more than 25 publications to his credit, most recently on Biblical affirmation that black lives matter.

“We are blessed indeed to have Rev. Dr. Edwards in this position,” President Surridge said. “I have full confidence in his leadership, his discipleship and our partnership. I know he will continue the Seminary’s entrepreneurial spirit while assuring an exceptional educational experience for each and every student. And I look forward to the strategic and innovative thinking, and the pastoral presence, that he will bring to the senior team.”

The Seminary is well known for innovation in higher theological education. In addition to the residential campus in Chicago, and online classes, the Seminary has several forward-thinking programs including a master’s degree through its School of Restorative Arts (SRA), which operates inside two correctional facilities within the Illinois Department of Corrections. The SRA is a unique educational opportunity where inside and outside students study together in the same classroom inside the prisons.

Edwards has served as a professor of Biblical studies at eight institutions of higher learning over the past 24 years, including his first service to North Park Theological Seminary, where he taught Mobilizing for Justice in spring 2013 and has served as associate professor of New Testament since August 2019.

Edwards has written more than 25 publications: “1 Peter,” part of the Story of God Bible Commentary series; “What is the Bible and How Do We Understand It?”; and “Might from the Margins: The Gospel’s Power to Turn the Tables on Injustice”. He is also a frequent contributor to Christianity Today magazine. His extensive professional activities also include lectures and presentations, podcasts and webinars, and service on numerous boards and steering committees.

Dean Edwards served for three decades in urban pastoral ministry. He was senior pastor of the Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis; founding pastor of Peace Fellowship Church in Washington, DC; associate and then lead pastor of Washington Community Fellowship on Capitol Hill; and founding pastor of New Community Church in Brooklyn, New York.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, his Master of Divinity (Urban Ministry) at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and both a Master of Arts and PhD in Biblical Studies from Catholic University of America.

“As I follow Jesus, I am continuing to grow in my love for God and love for my neighbors,” Edwards said. “I hope to encourage others to grow similarly in such love and trust that my decades of pastoral ministry along with my scholarly work will be helpful in this new opportunity at North Park. I look forward to working with the Seminary students, faculty, and staff, with the President and her senior team, and with the Covenant in this vital role.”

Jay Carstenbrock, chairman of the search committee and vice chairman of the North Park Board of Trustees, said Rev. Dr. Edwards “was the unanimous choice of the search committee, and strongly supported by faculty and staff at the Seminary. As an accomplished scholar, gifted teacher, collaborative leader, and dedicated Christ-follower, we have great confidence in his ability to lead North Park Theological Seminary as it carries out its mission: ‘With Christ at our center, we seek to educate and form missional leaders for the global church’.”

North Park is the University of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). The Seminary dean is the senior administrative officer of the University’s Seminary, responsible for assuring effective student learning, advancement of faculty scholarship, and stewardship of financial resources. As vice president for church relations, the dean is the primary liaison to the ECC in areas related to the education of ministerial candidates.

Read the dean’s welcome message in the fall 2022 issue of Seminary News.

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