Bexley Seabury announces consolidation at Chicago Theological Seminary 

This summer, the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation will move to a single site on the second floor of the Chicago Theological Seminary building. The move signals the end of a 17-year partnership between Bexley Hall and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. 

Chicago Theological Seminary
Image Credit: Chicago Theological Seminary

Two of the smaller seminaries of the Episcopal Church, Bexley Hall and Seabury Western Theological Seminary formed a federation in 2013 after both institutions sought ways to be economically viable. Initially the federation rented office space near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport; the Bexley half of the federation continued its partnership arrangement with Trinity Lutheran in Ohio, while the Seabury Western half of the federation sold its campus in Evanston, Illinois. 


Under the new arrangement, the collaboration with Trinity Lutheran Seminary will end and all operations will consolidate at Chicago Theological Seminary, which occupies a four-year-old building (above) in Chicago’s Hyde Park/ Woodlawn neighborhood. 


According to the school, the consolidation will have a number of benefits, including use of Chicago Theological Seminary’s online course technology and close proximity to Presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, and other seminaries in the area. Both Bexley Seabury and Chicago Theological Seminary are 30-year members of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools.


LifeWay closes seminary stores 


LifeWay Christian Resources has announced plans to close several of its Southern Baptist seminary bookstores this year. The store at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina will shut down on April 30, while the store at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Missouri will close on May 31. The bookstore at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Texas already shut its doors on February 29. LifeWay has also recently closed its downtown Nashville store.


Cossy Pachares, a vice president at LifeWay, said that the stores were closed in part because “students have been migrating more to digital, rental, and online options for many of their textbook and scholarly resources needs.” 


LifeWay has been moving towards digital text consumption, releasing digital resources on their WORDsearch digital publishing software. 


Cokesbury, the retail division of the United Methodist Publishing House, operated 76 brick-and-mortar stores at its peak in 1999, including 19 on seminary campuses. However, Cokesbury closed all its remaining physical stores in 2013 and has since focused on Internet sales, call centers, and in-person events. 


Jewish seminary sells property 


The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York has been selling some of its Manhattan real estate portfolio in order to raise funds for upgrading the remainder of its campus. In February, the flagship seminary of the Conservative Jewish movement sold a mixed-use, retail and residential building for $35.3 million, or $734 per square foot. The building sits on Broadway in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, directly across the street from Union Theological Seminary.


The transaction comes on the heels of another recent sale, for $96 million, of a residence hall and a vacant parcel about two blocks away, on the Jewish seminary’s east side, along with air rights that will permit the buyer to construct a new tower. The money generated from the sales will enable the seminary to build a new library, an auditorium and conference center, and a new 150-bed residence hall. 


Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood is thick with educational and religious institutions, including Columbia University, Barnard College, Riverside Church, and the Interchurch Center, which houses both New York Theological Seminary and Auburn Seminary. Union Seminary, a close neighbor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, also sold air rights to a developer to finance renovations and updates. 



Changes at the top 

 Peter Rogers

■ Dominican Father Peter Rogers has been named president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. He began his term in 2015, succeeding Dominican Father Michael Sweeney, who had served as president since 2004. Father Sweeney is now co-director of the Catherine of Siena Institute, which he helped found in 1997.

Ordained as a priest in 2002, Father Rogers has served as associate pastor of St. Dominic Church in San Francisco, pastor of the Newman Center at the University of Utah, and pastor of St. Dominic Church in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles. He co-founded the Interfaith Ministers Council at the University of Utah. 

Prior to entering the Order of Preachers in 1997, Father Rogers served as a teacher at American and international schools in Norway, the Netherlands, Egypt, Italy, and Malaysia.


 Jeffrey G. Willetts

The Rev. Jeffrey G. Willetts has been named dean of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. Willetts succeeds the school’s founding dean, the Rev. Alan Culpepper, who stepped down in 2015 after 20 years to return to full-time teaching. The Rev. Robert N. Nash Jr., professor of missions and world religions at McAfee, has served as interim dean since last year.


Willetts was one of the founding faculty members at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Virginia, an accredited Baptist theological school established in 1998. He has also served as a pastor and church planter for Baptist churches in Northern Virginia.


Willetts is a graduate of Campbell University, Yale University, and the University of Wales, Swansea. He and his wife, the Rev. Elizabeth E. Willetts, have three adult children.


 Daniel M. Cere

■ Dr. Daniel M. Cere has been named interim dean of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal. He succeeds Dr. Ian H. Henderson, who has been interim dean since 2014 when he was appointed to succeed the Rev. Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, who died that year from cancer. Henderson remains on the faculty as associate professor of New Testament.

Cere is associate professor of religion, law, and public policy in the Faculty of Religious Studies, and he chairs the Catholic Studies committee in the university’s Faculty of Arts. He is director of the Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law, and Culture, and was the founding director (and is currently vice president) of the Newman Institute of Catholic Studies, an independent association of McGill University scholars studying the role of Catholicism in Quebec and Canadian society. 


Cere is a graduate of McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal. 


 William D. Shiell

■ The board of trustees of Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, has named the Rev. William D. Shiell as president of the seminary, an American Baptist school founded in 1913. He succeeds the Rev. Karen Walker Freeburg, who has been serving as interim leader since the Rev. Alistair Brown announced his resignation last year after seven years as president. Freeburg will continue in her role as dean of academic programs and vice president of academic affairs.

At the time he was named the 11th president of Northern, Shiell was pastor of First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Previously, he was for nine years the pastor of First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tennessee. 


Shiell is a graduate of Samford University and Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. He has been an adjunct professor at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee. He and his wife, Kelly Shiell, have two sons.


 Mark Harris

■ The board of governors of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary in Waterloo, Ontario, has named the Rev. Mark Harris as principal-dean of the seminary. He succeeds the Rev. David Pfrimmer, who led the seminary for 10 years before stepping down in 2015 to return to the faculty. Pfrimmer is now professor of applied Christian ethics and co-director of the seminary’s Centre for Public Ethics.

Harris has served as assistant professor of functional theology at the seminary since 2012. He was previously assistant to the bishop of Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and was, for the prior 27 years, a Lutheran pastor in Peterborough, Owen Sound, and Waterloo, Ontario.


Harris is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Victoria University in the University of Toronto. He and his wife, Connie Harris, are the parents of three grown children.


Waterloo Lutheran Seminary is a federated college of Wilfrid Laurier University and is affiliated with the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

 Martin Ban

■ The board of trustees of Redeemer Seminary in Dallas has named the Rev. Martin Ban as president of the school. He succeeds Bradford L. Bradley, a trustee of the seminary, who served as interim president for one year after former head the Rev. Steve Vanderhill stepped down in 2015. Vanderhill had led the seminary since its establishment as the Texas campus of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1990, and after Redeemer became an independent institution in 2009, he was president for its first six years. He now serves as chief operating officer.

At the time of his appointment, new president Martin Ban had for 13 years been the pastor of Christ Church Santa Fe, a Presbyterian Church in America congregation in New Mexico. Ban has helped to plant four other churches since 1989 and has worked with other denominations as a consultant for church planting.


A graduate of Austin College and Westminster Theological Seminary, Ban is married to Mari Anne Ban, and the two have five children.

 Corné Bekker

■ The Rev. Corné J. Bekker has been named dean of Regent University School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He succeeds Dr. Joseph Umidi, interim dean since 2014, who will continue in his role as the university’s executive vice president for student life. Former dean Dr. Amos Yong, who stepped down in 2014, is now director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary.

A member of the Regent faculty since 2005, Bekker was most recently chair of the department of biblical studies and Christian ministry. He has also led the organizational and ecclesial leadership concentration in Regent’s School of Business and Leadership. Before joining the faculty at Regent, he was associate dean for academics at Rhema Bible College in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Bekker is a graduate of Rhema Bible College and Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg. An ordained minister, Bekker serves as an elder at New Life Providence Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. He and his wife, Luana Serzio Bekker, have one son.


Regent University was founded in 1977 by television evangelist Pat Robertson. The School of Divinity opened in 1982.


 Graham A. Cole

■ The board of regents of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, has named the Rev. Graham A. Cole as the new dean of the university’s graduate division, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Cole succeeds Dr. Tite Tiénou, who stepped down last year after 15 years as dean of the divinity school. Tiénou was named dean emeritus by the board of regents and continues on the faculty, holding the Tite Tiénou Chair of Mission and Global Theology.

Cole has also been named professor of biblical and systematic theology. He served on the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School from 2002 until 2011, when he departed to join the faculty of the Beeson School of Divinity at Samford University. He previously held positions at Moore Theological College and was the principal of Ridley College, University of Melbourne.


A graduate of the University of Sydney, the University of London, Moore Theological College, and the Australian College of Theology, Cole is ordained in the Anglican Church of Australia and is married to Jules Cole.


 M. Kent Millard

■ The board of trustees of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, has named the Rev. M. Kent Millard as president of the seminary. He succeeds the Rev. Wendy Deichmann, president for the last eight years, who is returning to the faculty as professor of history and theology.

Millard was pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis from 1993 until he retired in 2011. Later he served as interim minister at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.


A graduate of Dakota Wesleyan University, Boston University School of Theology, and McCormick Theological Seminary, Millard is married to Cheri Miller and has two adult children.  

Top Topics
Roles & Responsibilities
Board Essentials

Back to Issue  Read Previous Article Read Next Article

Advertise With Us

Reach thousands of seminary administrators, trustees, and others in positions of leadership in North American theological schools — an audience that cares about good governance, effective leadership, and current religious issues — by advertising in In Trust!

Learn More