Kingswood Chronicle Winter 2017
Kingswood Chronicle Summer 2017

From the Dean: Leadership Changes

david strong

This July marks a milestone for Seattle Pacific Seminary as Dr. Richard Steele, after eight incredibly productive years, hands over his role as one of the two associate deans in the School of Theology. Rick’s official title, associate dean for graduate studies, in effect, means that he has served as the academic dean for the seminary. Beginning in 2006, Rick chaired the committee that began to plan the curriculum for the School of Theology’s proposed graduate program. It was natural, then, that I asked him in 2009 to be the associate dean for that new graduate program — a program that morphed into a full-blown seminary once we decided to offer the master of divinity degree along with master of arts degrees in various theological subfields.

richard steele

What an exceptional job Rick has done in this role! Over the years, he has spent thousands of hours tweaking the curriculum, preparing course schedules, interacting with professors and administrators from across campus, designing and implementing assessment rubrics, and most importantly, advising and counseling scores of seminarians. With students, Rick presents himself both as a firm upholder of academic rigor and as a compassionate pastor — a rare combination. His signal achievement was last year’s highly successful accreditation process with the Association of Theological Schools. Thankfully, Rick will continue in the School of Theology as a beloved professor — teaching both undergraduate and seminary courses, and writing on theological topics for the edification of the Church. Dr. Laura Holmes, assistant professor of New Testament, will be the new associate dean for graduate studies.

Doug Strong
Dean, School of Theology

Theology Students Commissioned

On June 8, faculty, families, friends, and fellow students celebrated the commissioning of School of Theology undergraduate and graduate students at First Free Methodist Church.

At the undergraduate ceremony, 31 students with theology majors or minors were honored. Out of the 14 seminary graduates this year — the largest Seattle Pacific Seminary class to date — 12 were on hand to be commissioned at the service. A joint reception was held between ceremonies.

Three Faculty Affirmed by Denominations

The School of Theology celebrated three new "reverends" within their faculty in June. University Chaplain Dr. Bo Lim, associate professor of Old Testament, was ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church. Dr. Shannon Smythe, assistant professor of theological studies, was ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Assistant Professor of Wesleyan Theology Dr. Matt Sigler was commissioned as a probationary elder in the United Methodist Church.

Undergraduate Alumnus Spotlight: Andrew Lake ’16

Andrew Lake

Andrew Lake always knew he wanted to work with people. As a volunteer for Mission Year in Chicago, Lake is constantly questioning what it looks like to live intentionally.

“I know that word is overused in most Christian situations, but it is very relevant in my work,” Lake said. “It is a mindset of just making decisions about how you want to spend your time, choosing to spend time with your community and meet neighbors.”

With the Running Start program behind him, Lake graduated in 2016 from SPU in just two years with a communication degree and a youth ministry minor, growing his skills to reach and serve people.

Growing up, Lake attended a Catholic church with his family in the Bay Area, where he lived until 2005. After moving to Auburn, Washington, with his family, he faithfully attended the youth group at a Catholic church in South King County, and saw a big heart for youth ministry in those who served, but not a lot of support from the church leadership.

Lake had experience planning and teaching in various youth ministries as a dedicated member and decided he wanted to continue that work in some capacity. Wishing to acquire the skills necessary to actively serve youth, through books and other studies, he pursued a youth ministry minor.

At SPU, Lake served as a student ministry coordinator for Hill Hall, and greatly valued the experience of living in community and loving on his floormates.

In conversations with Campus Minister of Discipleship Deb Nondorf, Lake expressed interest in working in ministry after college and pursuing a master of divinity degree. Nondorf encouraged him to travel and get more life experience before pursuing graduate school at age 20, so Lake looked into mission programs and decided on Mission Year.

Not only had Lake been drawn to Chicago as the home of some of his favorite music artists, including Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, but beyond the artistic community there, he felt that Mission Year offered the ministry and heart similar to his work as an SMC.

“I had this weird affinity for Chicago and now, I’m here,” Lake said.

Since September 2016, Lake has served as a marketing intern at Lawndale Christian Health Center in a neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. Though he has never had a passion for health care, Lake appreciates the opportunities the job has given him to meet and serve others.

He lives in a house with three other people who have all been assigned to different service sites through Mission Year. They serve at those locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and participate in small groups during their off-hours.

“It’s all about how we choose to connect with our surrounding community,” Lake said.

Lake attends two small groups through New Life Community Church in Little Village: one on Tuesday evenings with older men who have young children, and another on Thursdays with young adults.

In addition to the two small groups, Lake volunteers each Wednesday at The Firehouse, a community arts center that serves local youth, and on Saturdays, he and his housemates participate in neighborhood involvement days as part of the Mission Year schedule in which program participants are encouraged to do something that involves engaging with their community.

“Most of the time that means seeking out a pre-existing community event — last week, we went to the Little League kickoff — just hanging out and being an active member of our community,” Lake said.

Lake finds how he chooses to spend his time after work has helped him build a certain mindfulness about community and how it is created. He feels that living intentionally is all about seeing opportunities to build relationships in all aspects of daily life.

“I’ve learned how important geographic living is,” Lake said. “That affects who you come in contact with on a daily basis. The most rewarding part has been the opportunity to live among people dealing with things I have never experienced. I’m experiencing diversity in all senses of the word, and that is the core tenant of my Christian faith. It’s what it means to be a Christian.”

Lake said being in a space that’s so different from anything he has known and building relationships with people expand his worldview, allowing him to grapple with issues on a deeper level. Lake said not only has he come to understand their experiences, but he can also share in their feelings and pain.

Lake cited Associate Professor of Theology Mike Langford and Professor of Christian Ministry, Theology, and Culture Jeff Keuss as his two favorite professors at SPU, as they shaped his views on ministry and theology as a whole.

He also feels that SPU’s School of Theology is realistic about Christian education and teaching the mission of the University.

“They do a lot of things right in terms of teaching students how to engage culture,” said Lake, “and that, aligned with the University mission, was definitely formational for me.”

Seminary Alumnus Spotlight: Daniel Frederick ’17

Daniel Frederick

As both the lead pastor of Bremerton, Washington’s Refuge Church and the director of community development for a chain of nonprofit coffee shops called The Coffee Oasis, Daniel Frederick’s experience of vocation is a tightly knit integration of family, place, business, and faith.

Having just graduated from Seattle Pacific Seminary this spring, Frederick plans on taking his master of arts in Christian leadership back to his work because, in fact, he never left the workplace. Without setting aside his professional roles, he took the ferry and the bus to campus once weekly for four years to complete his degree, and he found it to be a unique, formative experience to bridge these two worlds. But he wasn’t always sure it would be that way.

The Coffee Oasis, a nonprofit celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with five locations on the Olympic Peninsula in Kitsap County, was meant to be more than a coffee shop from the beginning: It’s a true oasis and safe space for homeless youth, not just as a coffee shop that trains and employs those youth, but also for emergency housing and other youth programs that add stability and compassion into the lives of those who are often overlooked. And there is both high demand and great success: Founded by Frederick’s father, Dave, in 1997, the business has grown from just three employees to 70.

Frederick shared about his father’s vision, who chose to end his career as a pastor by starting a business geared toward homeless youth. “My dad wanted to see them prosper holistically, in health and wealth and all those things that often get neglected when you say, ‘Jesus loves you,’” he said.

The majority of people the Frederick family wanted to serve had grown up with a history of abuse — physical abuse, drug abuse, emotional abuse. “To share the love of Jesus, we realized it was a much bigger investment,” said Frederick. “It literally was John 15:13, ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ God was calling us to lay down everything and not just make it a part of what we did. So it really became everything we did.” The Coffee Oasis was born out of the Frederick home, and a house church was eventually born out of that community, too.

The Coffee Oasis, in addition to offering youth employment, deploys a broad array of community services geared toward homeless youth – a case manager and therapist who travel to schools around the county, emergency housing, career counseling, jail visits, meals, community space, laundry service, internships, tutoring, and mentoring, among many other things.

In helping his family’s dream come to fruition, Frederick began by making and serving sandwiches as a youth. But he had a strong sense that he would be a pastor one day somewhere else, somewhere more exciting than the place he grew up. “I probably knew where God was pointing me, but I had bigger and better dreams,” he said.

He left Bremerton for a while and pursued ministry and education elsewhere, but continued to find himself convinced that he needed to return home, that his calling was best served in the place he grew up, culminating in a moment of illumination and a clear sense of direction from God while sitting in a coffee shop in Colorado. Frederick now describes it this way: “Bremerton is where I’m living and Bremerton is where I’m dying. I can rest in whatever shape this ministry takes because it wasn’t my dream in the first place. I can eventually pass it on to others like my dad is passing it on to me.”

This is also what led Frederick to Seattle Pacific Seminary: He needed a holistic vision for his vocation in ministry that was flexible enough to meet both the needs of running and growing a business and pursuing his pastoral calling without separating the two in their mission and intent. And ultimately, after taking some of the collaborative business course offerings through the master of arts in business and applied theology degree and using those, he landed on a master’s degree in Christian leadership. He’ll apply his skills in developing his board of elders and community development team.

If you’re ever in Kitsap County, it’s worth a stop to see the work being done at The Coffee Oasis, whether through the fair trade coffee roasted on-site, huge breakfast burritos, or the sustainable and compassionate employment and support they bring to homeless youth. See the work of God that Frederick is participating in all around the Olympic Peninsula and celebrate in the good news being shared in body, soul, and mind!

Pivot Northwest: Young Adult Initiative Launched

Pivot Northwest logo

The School of Theology’s Lilly Endowment-funded research project to study the relationship between the Christian church and the 23- to 29-year-old demographic has a name: Pivot Northwest. The moniker is both a phonetic shortening of the official project name (Pacific Northwest Faith Innovation Team) and a suggestion of the project’s posture, with one foot in orthodox Christian belief and other in innovative ministries of proclamation and care.

For decades, the trend and concern in many American churches has been the decline in attendance of people in the 20-something demographic. A simple internet search shows a broad range of thoughts as to why this is happening and even more ideas on how to address it.

Where this national trend is evidenced in the Pacific Northwest, there also exists a unique set of opportunities and challenges for our local congregations to address. Some have already begun, while others have no idea where to start. Indeed, even as the nation is not monolithic, neither are the needs and desires of 23- to 29-year-olds when it comes to their faith lives.

Pivot Northwest’s research, in partnership with regional congregations, hopes to reveal some of the important questions, answers, and methods for both the church and 23- to 29-year-olds to approach one another. At the heart of Pivot's work is the belief that the gospel message at Scripture’s core still resonates with people of all ages, and it is the imperative of churches and individual Christians to be innovatively proclaiming and caring in ways that effectively cut through the currents of culture. Pivot Northwest hopes to uncover new modes of being Christ’s church using the very gifts of our culture (sociological research, theological reflection, communal gatherings) and leaning into the understanding that innovation is a natural and proper way to live out our mission.

Selection of participating congregations is underway. Find out more about Pivot Northwest and join the conversation at

AAMP Luncheon With Ken Fong: Leading Change-Resistant People

Ken Fong Luncheon

Each year, the Asian American Ministry Program (AAMP) works to bring together local pastors, ministry leaders, and students to discuss wide-ranging issues facing Asian American Christians, from congregational leadership to contemporary challenges of racial conflict. On April 11, Rev. Dr. Ken Fong from Evergreen Baptist Church in Los Angeles came to SPU to speak at a Church Leaders Forum hosted by Seattle Pacific Seminary and the AAMP. Long known as an early pioneer in Asian American ministry, today Fong’s voice and influence spans a variety of concerns like the relationship between LGBTQ persons and Evangelical communities, and the representation of Asian Americans in media and entertainment.

His talk, “What You Should Probably Know About Leading Change-Resistant People,” focused on understanding the need for social survival as a preliminary requirement for trying to change people’s minds, whether personally or theologically. In conversation with panelists Rev. Jennifer Ikoma-Motzko (ABC-USA) and Rev. Paul Kim (PC-USA), they discussed how conflict in the Church is rarely about the issues alone, as if they could be divorced from the social contexts where people find identity and belonging. This challenge is especially acute in Asian American communities where social coherence is a vital element of how people assimilate and survive in a racialized nation. Fong also shared about his own journey in walking with his church through difficult questions about how to most faithfully love the LGBTQ persons in their community.

The day was marked by a rich and engaging mix of food, fellowship, and dialogue about the challenges and opportunities facing many of our churches. The AAMP hopes to move forward by continuing to organize events like these for the flourishing of our Christian communities in the region and beyond.

Student Group Hosts Christian Ashram Retreat

Ashram Retreat

After the wettest Seattle winter on record, the sun broke through the clouds at Camp Casey just in time for the 2017 Theological Student Union retreat in April. TSU, a club for undergraduates who are interested in the study of theology, hosts an annual retreat for members and other students seeking spiritual renewal, prayer, and discernment. The beautiful weather served as a perfect backdrop for refreshing work of the Spirit.

This year, we partnered with United Christian Ashrams (UCA), an organization founded by legendary Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones. After leaving his teaching post at Asbury College in 1907, Jones spent the rest of his life dedicated to spreading the Gospel in India. In addition to his influential writings, one legacy of his life ministry was the founding of a Christian retreat structure based on the ancient Indian model of the Ashram (a Sanskrit word simply meaning “retreat”).

The Ashram model of spiritual discernment focuses on assisting participants as they move toward a deepened experience of the dynamic reality of God in daily living. Led by UCA Executive Director Tom Albin, Lacey Canfield (a musician and artist from Nashville), and Samuel S.J. Chilkuri (completing a master’s in theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia), the program included silent reflection, Bible teaching, worship, and small-group sharing. Dean Doug Strong brought the weekend to an end with an inspiring message, concluding with Denise Levertov’s poem “Settling,” excerpted below:

Grey is the price
of neighboring with eagles, of knowing
a mountain’s vast presence, seen or unseen.

School of Theology Faculty Books

Race and Place book cover

Race & Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation by Associate Professor of Missiology Dr. David Leong

Geography matters. We long for diverse, thriving neighborhoods and churches, yet racial injustices persist. Why? Because geographic structures and systems create barriers to reconciliation and prevent the flourishing of our communities. Race & Place reveals the profound ways in which these geographic forces and structures sustain the divisions among us. Urban missiologist David Leong, who resides in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, unpacks the systemic challenges that are rarely addressed in the conversation about racial justice. The evening news may deliver story after story that cause us to despair, but Leong envisions a future of belonging and hope in our streets, towns, cities, and churches. A discussion about race needs to go hand in hand with a discussion about place. This book is a welcome addition to the conversation.

Hosea: Two Horizons Commentary book cover

Hosea: Two Horizons Commentary, by Associate Professor of Old Testament Dr. Bo Lim and Professor of Dogmatic and Constructive Theology Dr. Daniel Castelo

In this commentary, Old Testament scholar Bo Lim and theologian Daniel Castelo work together to help the church recover, read, and proclaim the prophetic book of Hosea in a way that is both faithful to its message and relevant to our contemporary context. Though the book of Hosea is rich with imagery and metaphor that can be difficult to interpret, Lim and Castelo show that, with its focus on corporate and structural sin, Hosea contains a critically important message for today’s Church.

Roadmap to Reconciliation book cover

Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice, by Associate Professor of Reconciliation Studies Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil

We can see the injustice and inequality in our lives and in the world. We are ready to rise up. But how, exactly, do we do this? How does one reconcile? What we need is a clear sense of direction. Based on her extensive consulting experience with churches, colleges, and organizations, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil has created a roadmap to show us the way. She guides us through the common topics of discussion and past the bumpy social terrain and political boundaries that arise. In these pages, she voices her call to all believers: “It's time for the followers of Jesus to embark on the prophetic journey that leads to reconciliation and transformation around the world. Many of us may already be aware of the need for reconciliation in our own backyards … We cannot ignore the plight of the people around us and as globalization continues its relentless march onward, we cannot turn a blind eye to the world at large either. We have to face the realities here at home and we must also embrace the stories of people all around the world.” Each chapter lays out the next step in the journey. With reflection questions and exercises at the end of each chapter, it's an ideal book to read together with your church or organization. If you are ready to take the next step into unity, wholeness, and justice, this is the book for you.

Dickinson Fellowships Awarded

Dickinson Fellowship Awardees

Three seminary students, Kate Belbutoski, Lauren Dudugjian, and Brent Watson, have been granted fellowships totaling $24,000 with the Living Well Initiative, a multidisciplinary program that focuses on the training of people to address the needs of persons and families affected by severe and persistent mental health conditions.

In this fellowship, of which there are only 10 spots available each year, the students will work with other undergraduate and graduate students to learn more about working with those affected by mental health conditions. They will have regular opportunities to be educated about direct interaction, family dynamics, community outreach, and government policy. They will also plan meetings and host events with and for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), both on campus and in the community.

It is our hope that through this partnership with NAMI and the Living Well Initiative, the School of Theology can better equip students and leaders to approach mental health concerns with an open heart and a spirit of wisdom.

Seminarian Erin Rooney Studies in Germany

Erin Rooney

Seattle Pacific Seminary student Erin Rooney, who is pursuing a master of arts in reconciliation and intercultural studies, has been accepted into a summer school seminar course in Wittenberg, Germany, called “The Bible as a Source of Knowledge and Spirituality: Feminist and Queer Readings,” which “…introduces basic principles of biblical hermeneutics followed by an intensive engagement with critical and innovative perspectives on academic biblical interpretation.” The course is taught by Professor of Old Testament Christl M. Maier and Professor of New Testament Angela Standhartinger, both of the University of Marburg.

In addition to being accepted into the competitive program, Rooney obtained funding for her travel and tuition via the Phillips University of Marburg’s German Academic Exchange Service. Around 800 students and doctoral students will come to study and learn in Wittenberg during the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation.

Connect with SPU Switchboard

SPU Switchboard

Members of the Seattle Pacific University community are using Switchboard as a tool to connect the skills and opportunities of its members. Current postings include transitional housing opportunities, offers for mentoring and/or internships, short-term project-based jobs, and travel requests. This new tool is growing in use as the number of postings increase daily.

One example of the usefulness for this powerful social networking tool is a post by a recent graduate offering mentoring in social media marketing skills to current students. SPU alumni also post, commonly seeking students as partners in youth ministry for internships or jobs.

While giving financially to SPU is meaningful, many of us are looking for more direct and personal ways to give back to our beloved alma mater. Explore current postings on Switchboard or complete the quick and easy registration. Contact SOT Alumni Coordinator Bill Leese or Alumni and Parent Relations to learn more about Switchboard and other ways to connect with SPU.

Upcoming Events

School of Theology Luncheon at Grand Reunion Weekend
Saturday, October 7, 2017, 12:30 p.m.
SPU campus

Join fellow alums and faculty for a time full of fun and fellowship as part of a weekend of lively reunion activities. Learn more at

Discernment Weekend
Friday and Saturday, November 3–4, 2107
SPU campus

Seattle Pacific Seminary invites potential seminarians to envision the future and discern their calling in the company of seminary faculty, students, and others contemplating seminary. Spend a day and a half in learning, prayer, discussion, thoughtful challenge, worship, and fellowship. Register at

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Kingswood Chronicle, published twice annually, is named after the first school established by John Wesley in Bristol, England, in 1742. For its dedication, John’s brother, Charles, wrote a hymn that included this line: “Unite the pair so long disjoined, knowledge and vital piety.” Our hope is that the Center for Biblical and Theological Education, the undergraduate and Seminary programs, the entire School of Theology, and this publication will unite our academic study of theology with a profound, meaningful faith in Jesus Christ — one that grows deeper every day.