What brought you to the NALS? Why the NALS? 

I have been an admirer of the NALS for a long time. A number of years ago my wife Pam asked me if there were any positions for which I might consider leaving my job at the time. I answered that I could not think of any, but noted as the single, possible exception the North American Lutheran Seminary. Now here we are packing up our bags for western Pennsylvania! 

The NALS is a great fit for several reasons. Chief among them is the opportunity to work in close partnership with the churches of the NALC. Although it has an important place in the academy, theology belongs most fundamentally to the church. The writers of the New Testament regarded sound doctrine as critical to every aspect of the church’s corporate life, not least the preaching and catechesis offered by its ministers. My personal sense of calling has always been to teach theology within the church, and for the church’s benefit. It will be a privilege for me to serve the churches of the NALC by helping to form theologically literate pastors who are committed to the orthodox faith “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). 

I also think it’s wonderful that the NALS partners strategically with sister seminaries representing a diverse spectrum of theological traditions. This mirrors my own journey of theological development which afforded me the opportunity to engage with, and to learn from a broad range of confessional traditions. Ecumenical conversation partners continue to be an important source of enrichment for my thinking, and they have helped me to understand my own theological tradition more deeply than would otherwise be the case. Because of that personal background, I am excited by the vision of the NALS to form pastors who are committed to the Lutheran confessions, but who are also eager to learn from, and to join in mission with other Christians who share their robust commitment to historic orthodoxy, the power of the Gospel, and the authority of God’s Word. 

What was that discernment process like? 

Despite my enthusiasm for the work of the NALS, the process of discernment was neither easy nor straightforward. A move across the country is never fun, and our family was quite happy with life in southeastern Wisconsin. My wife and I recognized from the start that the NALS would be a great fit, but we needed time to discern whether the Lord was indeed calling us to pull up roots, and to make such a significant change at this point in our lives. Our discernment process included much prayer, not a few tears, and the counsel of several friends who know us very well. It was also significant for both of us that the leadership of the NALC had expressed such a clear invitation to partner in its mission through the ministry of theological education. In the end, it became abundantly clear that the Lord was asking us to embark on a new journey. It is a tremendous honor, and very humbling for me to accept this position at the NALS. 

What are you most excited for? 

For me, the best part of teaching has always been working with students. There is nothing quite like the thrill of introducing students to a new subject matter, and seeing that light come on for the first time. I am also very excited to be joining the educational setting in Ambridge (where the NALS is centered at Trinity School for Ministry). With small class sizes, daily worship, and robust community, residential students will experience precisely the sort 

of “life together” pastoral formation which Dietrich Bonhoeffer described so eloquently in his classic text on the subject. 

At a broader level, I am really looking forward to many opportunities for creative collaboration with the NALC. I think it is obvious to most of us that we are living through a time of deep cultural change with new challenges to navigate, and new opportunities to explore. I only officially started my new position on July 1, but Eric Riesen and I have already been brainstorming back and forth with ideas for how the NALS can serve the NALC effectively in the days ahead. I am eager and ready to roll up my sleeves, and to think creatively about what it looks like for seminaries and churches to be faithful at such a time as this, in the very time and place where God has placed us. 

How can we pray for you and your family as you transition?

We are a family of five, and moving across the country naturally brings with it lots of disruptions to normal life. We are also still in the process of finding a house in Pennsylvania, and that lingering uncertainty adds to the general stress that inevitably accompanies the start of something new. We’d be very grateful for prayer that the Lord would care for all of us as we navigate this time of transition, and that He would also guide us in his own good time to exactly the home He has for our family. Scripture offers many examples of the fact that God uses seasons of disruption to stretch his people in salutary ways. In light of that fact, please also pray that God will be powerfully at work among us, and will use whatever stress may come our way during the transition to cultivate godly character, and thus to conform us more fully to the likeness of Christ.

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