Programs

Conference teaches church leaders how to respect, engage with science

No Comments » Written on April 28th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Feature, Programs, Seminary, Students

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Many see faith and science like oil and water — they’re impossible to integrate. But New Wine, New Wineskins thinks differently. On April 16 and 23, the institute hosted a conference aimed at dispelling the segregation of these communities through thoughtful dialogue. The conference, Church and Science: Partners for the Common Good, was made possible by a grant Multnomah Biblical Seminary received from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in an effort to integrate science into the seminary curriculum (view the 10 seminary courses that have adopted this integration here).

“It’s bound up with our ongoing, strategic effort at Multnomah to prepare seminary graduates in their pastoral calling to constructively engage our scientific age,” says Paul Louis Metzger, director of New Wine, New Wineskins. “It’s for the sake of their parishioners who have scientific questions and scientific vocational interests, and for the church’s own missional engagement with the surrounding culture.”

The event brought in speakers from Portland and across the country to explore several themes, including the history of faith and science, hermeneutical humility, and faith and scientific methods. Attendants delved into the themes through a variety of formats, such as plenary sessions, panels, workshops and thoughtful discussion times.

“Many young Christians are leaving churches because of what they perceive to be antagonism by the church toward science,” says Metzger. “It’s vitally important that pastors in training are equipped to develop an informed respect for science and discernment on how to articulate biblical faith in our scientific age.”

Many attendees walked away feeling more prepared and aware. “As a pastor, this conference opened my eyes to the tremendous need we have to address the role of science in our faith communities,” says Gaby Viesca, pastor to women at Cedar Mill Bible Church. “It also equipped me with practical tools to help people navigate their own questions and doubts, and how to engage in meaningful conversations around this topic.”

Jared Bennett, associate pastor at Grace Community Church called the conference “phenomenal” and found Dr. John Walton’s session especially insightful. “He stressed that the debate over young earth creationism/evolution is not what we should be focused on; the mechanics of ‘how’ are secondary to the agency of ‘who.’” Bennett claims to have walked away with a lot to think about. “I will continue to read, think and pray on what I learned at the conference in the hope that I can use that personal growth to better pastor my students,” he says.

Join the ongoing discussion. New Wine is hosting forums at local churches, and you can check out their website for information and updates. You can also read endorsements for the Church and Science conference here. Lastly, if you’re a youth pastor, New Wine wants to collaborate with you in order to care for teens wrestling with their faith in the midst of scientific questions. Stay tuned.

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‘A sense of adventure’: Tirzah Allen satisfies her love of travel in the MATESOL program

No Comments » Written on April 18th, 2016 by
Categories: Programs, Students

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Tirzah Allen has the traveling bug. Immediately after high school she packed her bags and headed to Scotland for a year-long adventure. She worked odd jobs, met people from all different backgrounds and explored the country. “That time planted the seeds of travel in my life,” says Allen, who’s enrolled in the Master of Arts in TESOL program. And it wasn’t long before those seeds started to germinate.

After graduating with a BA in English and communication, Allen began researching grad schools. “I had no idea that MU offered grad programs, but I happened to stumble upon it,” she says. “I chose TESOL because I wanted the ability to open more doors and be challenged continuously. I don’t want to be too comfortable, and I want to keep extending myself. This requires a built-in sense of adventure.”

TIRZAH_ClassThat sense of adventure is being satisfied during her studies at Multnomah. Not only does she have enriching classroom time, but she also teaches weekly, on-campus ESL classes. “This is the full program, plus the tools to succeed,” she says. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet with people from Burma, Vietnam, Cuba and beyond.”

Whether she’s preparing coffee for her customers in Roger’s Café, or bantering with her Cuban students over homework, Allen strives to reflect Jesus in every interaction. “Finding a Christian in a public setting is like finding an agate on the beach,” she says. “There is something that sparkles. I can’t always out rightly incorporate the gospel in every environment, but I can always show others what I believe.”

Allen is also enjoying each of her professors. “These are teachers who really care,” she says. “It emanates from them, and they go above and beyond what is required. Their servants’ hearts are evident. I’m learning that a teacher’s journey is one of servitude. I want to inspire my students to aspire to be more.”

Allen doesn’t know where the seeds of travel will take root. But she does know she has an open heart for wherever God leads her. “I’d love to teach overseas,” she says. “Anywhere, anytime, any way. Wherever God sends I will go. I’m taking my life one step at a time.”

Local nonprofit creates unique internship opportunities for business students

No Comments » Written on April 15th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Programs, Students

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Business Department Chair Lee Sellers is passionate about integrating practical experience into his students’ education. So when Andrew Stone at Kingdom Ministries needed interns to help support his young nonprofit, an on-going partnership was created.

“It seemed like a good opportunity to give young people real world experience while helping the organization grow more efficiently,” says Stone, who started the Portland nonprofit with his father, Multnomah alumnus Kevin Stone. Joined by their families, the father-son team equips ministries in Italy by connecting them to volunteers who serve in their summer camps, English classes and city festivals.

Mike Kamlade, Lindsey Weaver, Miranda Schmillen, Grant Warner and Lucia Morud are the interns supporting this mission. Over the course of the school year, the five business majors have diligently worked in finance, marketing and project management roles to promote, arrange and fund this year’s summer camps. They’ll see the culmination of their work in June when they travel with other Kingdom Ministries volunteers to Italy.

Although they’ve encountered a number of hurdles throughout the planning process, the interns say the hiccups are undeniably constructive. “It's teaching me to adapt to my surroundings and be open to learning new things,” says finance intern Mike Kamlade.

Project management intern Lindsey Weaver had to adapt too. “Once you get out of the classroom and deal with people in real life, it changes things,” she says.“I looked for this kind of opportunity in high school, but nothing ever came up.” Weaver’s duties include liaising with contacts, coordinating schedules and planning trip logistics.

Miranda Schmillen, who’s responsible for tracking donations and budgeting, admits the internship would be much harder if she was unequipped. But luckily she has a semester of accounting under her belt. “My accounting class totally helped me,” says the finance intern.

Stone’s instruction has only built upon students’ knowledge, and his attentiveness has inspired them to do their best. “He’s super ambitious and has these huge ideas, but he’s also hands-on and shows you how to do things,” says Schmillen.

Stone has simply created an optimal space for trial, error and learning.“They’re getting experience they won’t get anywhere else,” he says. “It’s a very safe environment to learn in.”

It may have been safe, but it wasn’t easy. The interns have bonded through shared struggles and successions — and they’ve emerged stronger than ever. “This internship has blessed me more than I expected because of the relationships I've built with the other interns and the Stone family,” says Kamlade. “They are all great people.”

For more information about this internship and Kingdom Ministries, visit BuildingTheKingdom.org.

Mixing Bible with career: business owner joins degree completion program

No Comments » Written on April 7th, 2016 by
Categories: Programs, Students

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Curt Heitschmidt worked in construction for more than 20 years. His cabinet business was successful, and he was enjoying life with his wife and three kids.

But he was ready for something different.

“I decided to drop everything and finish my degree because I wanted to learn more about business after owning one for so long,” Heitschmidt says. “I knew that I could study business anywhere, but the business and Bible combination was what I really wanted.”

Multnomah stood out as his best option. He applied to the management & ethics program (which recently changed its name to the business management program) in MU’s Degree Completion Program. Heitschmidt was accepted, and he entered the program with anticipation.

Studying business and the Bible with his classmates has not been disappointing. They even make things more fun by bringing food each week to share with each other. “My cohort experience has been a good mix,” he says. “It’s great to come together around a meal and support each other.”

Going back to school is always challenging, and Heitschmidt’s journey is no different. “Chaos is a constant theme in my life right now,” he says. “My family and I have just moved, my wife works nights, and I’m enrolled full-time in the degree completion program.” But he has no regrets. He even insists his homework load has been manageable alongside his other duties.

Heitschmidt says he’ll probably return to construction after he graduates. But he’ll reenter the field with a revived understanding of what it means to combine Bible with career.

“I’m learning that the Bible isn’t just a handbook,” he says. “It never specifically tells you what to do in each situation. You have to figure out how to bring its principles into the work environment.” Multnomah is equipping him with the tools to do just that.

Spring Thaw unites, inspires local youth groups

Comments Off Written on April 5th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Programs, Students

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Spring Thaw kicked off last weekend, and attendees filled MU’s campus with the contagious energy only 650 high school students could bring. From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, the weekend was packed with activities, including a comedy show, paintball, a game truck, sports tournaments and a photo booth.

For the past six years, Multnomah has been hosting a weekend-long retreat for local high school youth groups. The theme changes from year to year, but there’s always dynamic speaking and teaching, interactive games, and limitless space for students to experience God outside their usual routine.

This year’s theme, PDXperience, brought almost every Portland stereotype onto one campus. A swarm of camping tents were pitched in the North Bradley lawn, an array of food carts circled the gym parking lot, and the main stage was propped with iconic Portland symbols like the White Stag sign. At night, Roger’s Cafe was transformed into a hipster coffee shop. A live piano filled the room with jazz while students fueled up on caffeine before competing in Nerf challenges and Library Laser Tag.

“It’s super fun; the whole thing is enjoyable,” remarked Julia, a student from Grace Point Community Church in Tigard, who said there wasn’t one thing she didn’t like.

Youth Ministry Department Chair Dr. Rob Hildebrand has been running Spring Thaw since he dreamt it up in 2010, but he decided to take a well-deserved hiatus this year. Luckily for youth groups everywhere, Director of Auxiliary Services Bobby Howell stepped in to fill Hildebrand’s shoes. A team of volunteers from the Multnomah community and Central Bible Church worked hard alongside him to produce this year’s event.

When students weren’t noshing on food cart fare or darting around the pitch-black library with plastic laser guns, they were soaking up the wisdom of A.J. Swaboda, a local pastor, professor and author who served as the event’s main speaker. Swaboda pushed the high schoolers to examine their faith more deeply by candidly explaining what following Jesus really requires. The students thought he was relatable and straightforward.

“It’s nice that A.J. is addressing what it’s like to be a Christian,” said Kaylea, a sophomore from Grace Community Church in Gresham. “He’s addressing a reality.”

Brianne, who’s also from Grace Community, agrees. “I like how honest A.J. is,” she said. “He doesn’t sugarcoat things.”

Youth ministry major Brian Hall has been involved with Spring Thaw for the past four years. Aside from garnering skills and experience vital to his field of study, he truly enjoys seeing the impact the retreat has on students. “They’re getting real life stuff from people other than their youth pastors,” he said. “And it’s a fun time for the Kingdom.”

Youth Director Michael Calquhoun from Gladstone First Baptist brings his youth group back every year for that very reason. And because they don’t stop talking about it once they’ve left. “It’s a good way to build community,” he said “We get to know each other better and share common experiences. And we fall more in love with God.”

Words like that are music to Howell’s ears. “We wanted to provide a setting with quality teaching, where any youth group from any denomination could attend and enjoy the camaraderie of being with other youth groups,” he said. “I want students to be energized to take up the cross past this event — to take it back to their everyday lives. I want them to be the light of Christ.”

Register for the April 6 info session

Comments Off Written on March 31st, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Programs

Are you or anyone you know interested in a career focused on global development and justice initiatives? Read the rest of this entry »

Seminary students selected third year in a row for internships at Oxford

Comments Off Written on March 30th, 2016 by
Categories: Events, Faculty, Programs, Seminary, Students

The polished halls of Oxford University have been steeped in centuries’ worth of scholarly culture. Their crevices contain manuscripts, statues, engravings and echoes of the past. What better place for world-renowned biblical experts and students to gather?

For the third year in a row, a handful of Multnomah seminary students has been selected to attend the Logos Conference, a two-week internship in June sponsored by the Scholars Initiative. Any students who have worked on Scholars Initiative projects are invited to apply to the workshop. Scholars from more than 60 schools in North America submit applications, but only 30 students are chosen for the trip.

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 ‘Shocked and overjoyed’

Oxford3_blogChad Woodward had his eyes on Oxford ever since his classmate Daniel Somboonsiri was selected two years ago. “It was a goal I’d set for myself,” Woodward says. “I was on the edge of my seat waiting, and when I heard I was chosen, I felt validated as a Hebrew scholar.”

Alyssa Schmidt is equally enthusiastic. “I’m really excited to be around people who are passionate about God’s word, and to have so much opportunity for learning within two short weeks,” she says.

Ruben Alvarado received his invitation two weeks later than his classmates. He thought he hadn’t made it in. When he finally heard the news, he was ecstatic. “I couldn’t sleep that night,” he says. “I was shocked and overjoyed.”

 ‘Engaging and exploring’

Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz encouraged Woodward, Alvarado and Schmidt to apply for the intership. “We really enjoy our students and are proud of them,” he says. Kutz will join his students at Oxford for three days of the conference.

The conference schedule is packed with activity. There will be excursions to Winchester Abbey and Tyndale House, evensong services at Christ Cathedral, lectures from renowned scholars, tours to the Bodlian and Parker Libraries, and discussions around pots of tea. Guests will even be lodging in an ivy-cloaked Victorian house up the lane.

“This seminar is helpful for two reasons,” Kutz says. “First, students will be able build friendships with peers in the same position. Second, they will be exposed to key scholars who have figured out what it’s like to live as a Christian in the academic world.”

Dr. Rebekah Josberger, who teaches Hebrew at Multnomah, is thrilled to see how her students will grow through this opportunity. “Learning isn’t about ‘arriving’ and knowing everything,” she says. “It’s about engaging, asking questions and exploring. This all happens at the conference.”

Needless to say, this environment of exploration will boost the future careers of attendees. “It’s continued exposure to what I love and enjoy,” Woodward says. “It will bring my studies to a different level.”

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 ‘A community of excellent teachers’

All three students are brimming with praise for the quality of Multnomah’s Hebrew program. “Our professors have created a program that’s different,” says Schmidt. “It’s not just classes, but a community of excellent teachers.”

Kutz prioritizes time with his students during the trip. While other professors wander off on their own adventures, he joins his group in a pub to discuss the highlights of the conference.

“The Hebrew community is a family,” says Woodward. “It’s not just instructive; professors take an active role in our lives and come alongside us as friends.”

Alvarado wholeheartedly concurs. “It’s been the experience of a lifetime to study under Dr. Kutz and Dr. Josberger,” he says. “They teach us the language and teach us how to live life.”

Although the two weeks are crammed with scholastics, MU students are also looking forward to sightseeing. Schmidt will be stopping by Paris on her way home. Alvarado will visit several of London’s tourist attractions like the British Museum, the Tower of London and the National Gallery.

Woodward is planning to take full advantage of the international experience. It’s his 10th wedding anniversary, and he just bought a plane ticket for his wife so they can explore England together after the conference. “It will be a good balance between work and play,” he says. Cheers to that.

MU to launch biology program in fall 2016

Comments Off Written on March 15th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Programs

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Multnomah University’s new biology program will open the door to an array of career options for students who are serious about faith and science.

The four-year program will offer a major and a minor, along with an optional emphasis in science education for those considering a career in secondary education. In addition to core classes, students will explore non-science disciplines and interdisciplinary courses to broaden their scope of education. This will provide a smooth transition into a chosen occupation, or into graduate or professional health schools.

“I’m excited that our students will be able to prepare for graduate studies in medical, dental and veterinary doctoral programs,” says Admissions Counselor Becca Ovall. “MU students are passionate about serving others, and this program opens up new avenues to do so in the health field.”

Dr. Daniel Scalberg, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, couldn’t agree more. “God gave humans the custodial care of creation,” he says. “We need to task people to take care of it.”

The interactive courses will allow students to explore their interests down to the molecular level, while devoted faculty will provide insight for potential careers and give students the in-depth knowledge they need to excel as professionals in their chosen fields. The combination of lab research and biblical and theological studies will complement the integration of faith and learning in the arts and sciences tradition.

“There doesn’t need to be a war between faith and science,” says Scalberg. “Rather, there should be a partnership in knowing about and worshipping the Creator.”

Ovall concurs. “Our biology program will include a depth of faith integration that’s hard to find elsewhere,” she says.  “Because our students complete a substantive core of Bible and theology courses, they’ll bring a level of biblical competence to their studies that will broaden their understanding of biology.”

This integration is something that motivates Dr. Sarah Gall, who will join Multnomah faculty on June 1 as associate professor of biology. “I think deeply about my faith and how to conduct scientific research to the glory of God,” she says. “I look forward to working at a university that encourages students to contemplate how their faith and vocation can be integrated coherently.”

Gall, who received her Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology from Washington University School of Medicine, will be teaching a number of biology subjects at MU, including microbiology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, immunology, human biology, and senior student biology research. She says she’s looking forward to joining an institution that takes integration of faith and learning seriously.

The reaction to the announcement of the biology major has been very positive. “So far, there has been an overwhelming influx of response,” says Admissions Counselor Ashley Sikorski. “We’re fielding phone calls, applications and emails from students who are reaching out to us since they heard the news. By making biology available, we can prepare the next generation of Christian doctors and scientists with a rigorous core of solid values and applicable skills for the workplace.”

MU launches online version of MA in Global Development and Justice program

Comments Off Written on February 11th, 2016 by
Categories: Faculty, Missions, Programs

Multnomah University has launched an online version of the Master of Arts in Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) program. The 18-month program will kick off with two weeks in Rwanda, where students will take their first two courses, embark on study tours and connect with practitioners. All subsequent courses will be taken online, and students will take two eight-week courses at a time.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to be face to face with students at the beginning of the program,” says MAGDJ Director Dr. Greg Burch. “This contextual residency will provide time for cohort members to get to know one another and begin developing the community we envision for the online portion of this educational experience.”

Burch proposed the blended program so students who weren’t able to join MU’s on-campus cohorts could still earn the MAGDJ degree. “The blended program allows for us to pull in students from around the globe who are passionate about global justice and community development,” he says. “We hope to create a strong community as we wrestle together with complex issues that need carefully crafted solutions to bring lasting transformation.”

The first cohort is set to begin in July 2016. Burch is hoping for a good turnout. Things are looking promising: The new program has already sparked interest across the globe. “We’ve received inquiries about the blended program from practitioners in Colombia, India, Kenya, Rwanda and Lebanon,” says Burch. “They see the possibilities for acquiring a new set of skills that will take them to new heights.”

Burch says one of the main benefits prospective students recognize is that they don’t need to leave their work or family. “It can be difficult for global leaders to move to the U.S. or even to a new state,” he says. “This program allows them to stay where they are, keep a flexible schedule, and direct their research in very practical ways for their career and ministry.”

In the years ahead, Burch envisions the new program contributing to MU’s global campus by including students in developing nations. “With the help of Multnomah donors, we anticipate having a significant participation of underrepresented groups in this program,” he says. “We believe it will be necessary to provide significant scholarships, and we’re praying the Lord will provide for students who don’t have the economic means to pay.”

As the program continues to mature, Burch foresees adding contextual residency locations in Asia and Latin America.

To learn more about this program, visit multnomah.edu/blendedMAGDJ, or you can contact Dr. Greg Burch at gburch@multnomah.edu.

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Photo/Jonathan Isensee

‘The fruit of the Spirit in the classroom’: MAT student Sarah Murrell infuses teaching with faith

Comments Off Written on January 27th, 2016 by
Categories: Programs, Students

Ever since Sarah Murrell can remember, teaching has been an integral part of her life. Whether she’s bonding with preschoolers in a neighborhood school or tutoring students in reading, she knows she has a passion for cultivating knowledge in the classroom. “God continues to put me in opportunities to teach and has affirmed me in those places,” she says.

sittingv02The path into Multnomah’s Master of Arts in Teaching program has been a smooth one for Murrell. She received her B.A. in TESOL from MU and spent some time teaching at a school in India for her practicum. But she still had her eyes on graduate school.

“I looked at lots of other schools but was impressed with the quality of MU’s teaching,” Murrell says. “I also worked with an MAT student who had great classroom skills and spoke highly of the program.”

So Murrell jumped right in. “The program is small, but they have their act together,” she says. “Our professors have been top-quality; no class has been a waste, and each one has equipped me for what I need, and more.”

Opportunities for putting learning into action are everywhere. Last year Murrell worked as a reading tutor for a rural school in the area. “I attended MU classes on Tuesday night and was able to try out what I learned on Wednesday morning with the kids,” she says.

Now Murrell is doing student teaching in a multi-ethnic urban school, and though the atmosphere is totally different, she is able to apply the same principles. “It is always amazing to see kids grow as readers; to get them excited about learning,” she says. “I love to see kids feeling good about themselves.”

Teaching in a public school requires a different approach.  “I want the kids to learn how to reflect God’s image in creative and unique ways,” Murrell says. “I want to be the kind of teacher who pours forth the fruit of the Spirit into her classroom, but I can’t be that consistent teacher unless I prioritize a close relationship with God. That is what’s best for my students.”

Murrell is thrilled to learn how to love each child in her class. “At the end of the day I’m relying on God to give me his heart for the kids,” she says. “In order to produce anything good, I need to depend on him.”