Sneak Peek: CQ 73:3-4 | NPTS@125

The latest issue of the Covenant Quarterly is now published. This special double issue celebrates the 125th anniversary of  North Park University and North Park Theological Seminary, with a particular focus on the seminary. 


Philip J. Anderson

Philip J. Anderson, professor emeritus of church history at NPTS, contextualizes North Park’s origins within the competing educational ventures pursued by free church Swedish immigrants, 1885–1916, each advocating divergent pathways with respect to ethnic identity and American assimilation.

“Nyvall, however, vigorously disagreed with Risberg’s views of Americanization, saying that ‘in all things personal Risberg and I were one, but in school matters and in matters of denominational interests we did not agree.’ His role in the unfolding stormy discussions of schools and possible mergers led to the conviction that the Covenant needed its own school if the denomination was to have a future and if Swedish-American people were to shape their own cultural and religious lives.”

From “On the Beginnings of North Park University: ‘Risberg’s School’ and Covenant Ministerial Education, 1885-1916



Scott Erickson

Head of the Phillips Brooks School in Menlo Park, California, Scott Erickson presents the rich educational philosophy of NPTS founding president David Nyvall.

“For Nyvall, the life of the mind never required a choice against faith… Cordoning off intellectual challenges was not Nyvall’s vision. Instead, Christian character would be developed in young people through their liberal education. Christian faith and a liberal education should have a constructive relationship in the Christian university… Nyvall wanted to inspire young people to welcome critical intellectual reflection in the context of their Christian faith.”

From “North Park at 125: David Nyvall’s Enduring Impact on Christian Higher Education



C. John Weborg

C. John Weborg, emeritus professor of theology at NPTS, reflects on his decades of experience as an NPTS student and professor.

“The communication of the infinite value of a person’s humanity is gospel. It is not the entire gospel — and we cannot fail to preach and teach the full intellectual content of the faith — but it is the beginning… In order to get a hearing for the gospel, whether from the SBNR [spiritual but not religious] or East Germans, we must first come as fellow human beings. In meeting human to human, the Holy Spirit will show the other that we can be trusted with the deeper matters of their lives. Effective pastors… do not make the mistake of respecting the fully human and calling it secular humanism.”

From “Inhabiting a Dwelling Place: Reflections of a Seminary Student & Professor



Al Tizon

Al Tizon, executive minister of Serve Globally for the ECC and affiliate associate professor of missional and global leadership at NPTS, offers a list of the ideal characteristics found in a well-educated seminary graduate.

“Inherent in quality education is developing the ability to think critically, to question assumptions, and to be willing to abandon beliefs that don’t hold up in the crucible of honest investigation. Theological education is no exception, as we help students to question their assumptions about God, truth, church, and mission. If I may boast, I can deconstruct, interrogate, subvert, and turn tables with the best of them. However, if at the end of a student’s harrowing theological journey their love for God has not been deepened and strengthened precisely by the transforming process of quality education, then we have failed.”

From “The Graduate



David Kersten

Dean of NPTS David Kersten writes about strategic initiatives in process to ensure a strong future for the seminary.

“The ongoing need to keep seminary education affordable and our institutional operation sustainable has led to innovative solutions. Working with Covenant Trust Company (CTC), National Covenant Properties (NCP), and the financial division of the ECC, as well as North Park University, we are in the process of developing the North Park Plan — an interest free lending strategy meant to keep overall lending costs low for our students while increasing per student tuition revenue to the institution.”

From “Strategic Initiatives: Planning for the Future



Gary Walter

Evangelical Covenant Church president Gary Walter examines the viability of continued seminary education.

“Yet even in this era of uncertainty in theological education, I am certain of this: NPTS can be, and must be, a pace-setter among schools preparing leaders in service to the mission of God in the world. My macro view is that the seminaries with meaningful futures will be committed to a particular framing concept: Not merely to theological education but to missional theological education. A commitment is more than an implicit hope; it is an explicit frame of reference.”

From “I Believe in the Future of North Park Theological Seminary


View and download the full issue and individual articles here. Over the upcoming weeks, Forum will be hosting discussions about each article and posting related content. Sign up for email notifications and join the conversation.

Mackenzie Mahon


  1. I am very grateful for the focus on the history of North Park Theological Seminary and for the many men who bring such a wealth of history and wisdom to this issue of the Covenant Quarterly. I am, however, disappointed that the voices of more diverse scholars were not included. I appreciate Dr. Al Tizon’s look forward, but would love to see some additional scholarly writing on the history of our school and denomination from women and men/women of color.

  2. I read with Interest Dave Kersten’s article concerning the strategic initiatives North Park Seminary is embarking upon to remain viable as a theological institution in the twenty- first century. I believe his instincts about the changing role of the seminary for life long learning and initiating new models of financing theological education are essentially correct. Under the heading of new partnerships I was surprised that none of the partnerships Kersten suggests are with theological institutions of like mind. In light of the fact that the oldest UCC seminary in the country (Andover Newton Theological Seminary) has sold its property and has moved in with Yale Divinity School, suggests to me that no theological institution is immune from the forces of change taking place in higher education in general and theological education in particular. Perhaps strong partnerships with other seminaries or theological institutions would provide small denominationally affiliated seminaries like North Park with the chance to remain sustainable as the winds of change continue to blow through theological higher education.

  3. I agree with Brad B. that partnerships with like-minded seminaries will indeed be an essential part of the future for NPTS. We are currently in dialogue with a few different schools, but none of those conversations are at a point that would’ve been appropriate to include in the article. It should also be noted that we are an embedded institution, and while this enhances our viability and sustainability it also complicates and potentially elongates conversations and discernment regarding partnerships. I would like to celebrate that we have several “memorandums of understanding” with sister institutions in Scandinavia, Europe, Africa and Latin America. As we move towards the future it will be important to further articulate the role of NPTS in both serving and leading the mission of theological education globally within our ECC constituency.

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