Tawny Johnson: Cultivating Knowledge

This week we're featuring a student story about Tawny Johnson, who graduated from both our college and seminary. When Johnson started attending undergrad classes at 45, she had no idea why God had called her to MU. Nearly ten years later, she knows exactly why.

“Isn’t that a guy’s thing?” Tawny Johnson had just told someone she was going to seminary, and that was his response.

Johnson paused. She had never thought that learning about God was gender exclusive — but she was finding that many Christians did.

“There’s a common impression that studying theology at a master’s level is just for men,” Johnson says. “But theology is not masculine.”

Multnomah welcomes men and women into all its programs; nevertheless, its seminary is currently composed of mostly men. This never bothered Johnson; it only highlighted the importance of a seminary education for all Christians, regardless of gender.

'Take responsibility' 

“There’s been an emphasis in some areas of the Church to rely on men, but women need to delve into things themselves and take responsibility for their own spiritual lives,” Johnson says. “Regardless of what you think about men and women leadership roles in the church…that’s beside the point. It’s not a gender issue — it’s a Christian issue.”

Tawny_mainJohnson and Multnomah go way back.

In the ‘80s, she worked full-time for Multnomah Press, a publishing company previously owned by Multnomah. After 13 years filled with administration, marketing, foreign publishing, design, advertising and product development, she left her job in 1992, when Multnomah sold the press to another publishing company.

The right thing

Johnson took the loss of a successful career as a gain in her family life: She spent the next 13 years homeschooling her two daughters.

In 2005, she felt God leading her to Multnomah. She didn’t know why she was supposed to go. All she knew was that it was the right thing to do. So, with the support of her husband and children, she enrolled, not realizing that she was beginning a nine-year journey.

'It wasn't about me'

Freshman orientation in the undergrad program found her surrounded by 18-year-olds. Johnson was 45. “It was a bit intimidating to come back to school as an older adult,” she says. “But I knew that it wasn't about me — it was about what God wanted to do in me.”

For six years, Johnson attended MU while working part time as a receptionist at a hair salon. In 2010, she graduated with a minor in English. After she accepted her diploma and took her seat, she watched as MU’s master’s students were fitted with hoods — a sign of their academic achievements.

“I thought, ‘I want one of those!’” she says. One year later, she was back at Multnomah — this time for a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree.

'Part of a whole'

“I chose theological studies because it was a chance to integrate my love of theology and my love of history,” she says. “Now I have a broader view of the Church — I feel like I’m a part of a whole, and I appreciate the people who came before me in sacrifice and obedience.”

One of her favorite things about seminary was her teachers. “The professors at Multnomah are its strength,” she says. “They care about the student, and they cultivate an environment of stimulating exchange. They also help you think critically and address some misconceptions you probably have.”

One faculty member in particular, Dr. Brad Harper, taught several of Johnson’s theology classes over the years. “One time, he asked me if I felt out of place in the seminary,” she says. “I absolutely did not. My classmates and I all felt called to be there. Gender was never an issue with the professors or with my — almost exclusively male — counterparts.”

'My dream job'

Last month, Johnson finally earned her “hoodie”, as she affectionately calls it. “I threatened my husband that I was going to wear it to the grocery store, just to get some mileage out of it!” she jokes.

But Johnson began reaping the benefits of her degree before she was even finished with seminary. Just a few months before graduation, she was invited to join D.C. Jacobson & Associates as a literary agent.

“It’s my dream job,” she says. “My education in recognizing exceptional writing, depth of content and theological integrity has led me to this career. Multnomah was instrumental in cultivating that passion and knowledge which will assist me as I assess Christian books for publication. I will always feel connected to MU, and I'm sincerely grateful for the role it has played in my life.”

MU Hosts Seminar for MAT Students and Certified Teachers

education_mainMultnomah is hosting a development seminar for MAT students and teachers on May 31. PPS principal Emily Glasgow will speak on how to connect with all families in your school community. Come ready to be challenged, enlightened and educated on how to reach diverse populations and better serve the kids in your classrooms. Attending this seminar will earn you 4 CEUs.

Learn how and why to positively engage all families in their children's education.

Get ready to:

  • Develop a shared understanding on why family engagement is a critical component in student success and what types of family engagement matter the most.
  • Deepen understanding and empathy for our children’s families — view family engagement from their perspective.
  • Discuss and problem-solve around common obstacles to family engagement in urban public schools.
  • Leave with concrete tools and action steps to deepen and maximize your relationship with your students' families.

Emily Glasgow, our featured speaker, brings a rich history of experience with her:

  • Principal of Vestal K8 School in PPS
  • Principal of K8 School in the Boston Public School District for 7 years
  • Masters in School Leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education

Don't miss out on this great opportunity. Register today.

When: Saturday, May 31

Time: 9 a.m. - 12 noon

Cost: $25 if you pre-register, $30 at the door, $20 for Multnomah Alumni and $10 for current MU students and faculty

Where: Multnomah University
8435 NE Glisan St., Portland, OR.
Mitchell Library, Room #108

Refreshments will be provided.

Email Kathy McKee at if you have any questions. And spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.

Check Out Our New D.Min. Track: Global Evangelism

We sat down with Dr. Derek Chinn, director of MU's Doctor of Ministry program, to find out more about the degree's latest track, global evangelism.

Space is still available, and classes start June 2. If you have questions about this track or want to register, contact Dr. Chinn by emailing or calling 503-251-6732.

What's the purpose of the global evangelism track?

Dr. Luis Palau

Dr. Luis Palau

This track is in line with Multnomah’s goal of equipping its students for global mission. The education our students receive is biblically-grounded and academically rigorous, and it deliberately integrates what's learned in the classroom with ministry that takes place in the real world.

How will the track prepare students for missional work?

The majority of the students are already evangelists. They are currently doing the very thing God has gifted them to do, and they will continue to evangelize to those who don’t know Jesus and train local congregations to share the Gospel.

Getting a D.Min. degree will give them the opportunity to study more in-depth the theological underpinnings of evangelism, learn about different strategies and methodologies for evangelism, develop a better understanding and appreciation for the work that builds and sustains evangelistic ministry, and learn from fellow evangelists serving in different contexts.

How is this track distinct from programs offered by other seminaries?


Dr. Tim Robnett

Students participate and study with instructors who are actively engaged in evangelism around the world. The faculty mentor, Dr. Tim Robnett, is president of Tim Robnett Ministries, and he actively trains and mentors evangelists, locally and internationally. International evangelist Dr. Luis Palau is the senior lecturer for this track and will participate in the instruction. Guest lecturers are respected educators and practitioners in evangelism.

How is the track enriching in terms of professional, spiritual and personal development?

Students will use their professional ministry skills in the church and for the community to equip believers in the ministry of evangelism. They are expected to nurture their personal relationship with God and mature in personal character. Participants in this track will have ample opportunity to reflect on and develop a process of adaptation and application of biblical principles in the area of evangelism.

What makes this program stand out?

The experience that Dr. Robnett and Dr. Palau bring to the classroom is outstanding, and I can't think of any program that brings these types of skills and experience to bear. Dr. Robnett’s deep understanding of how evangelists are gifted and wired significantly shapes how instruction will occur, what coursework is assigned, and what topics will be covered.

Want to find out more about Multnomah Biblical Seminary? Check out our seminary page

Seminary Students to Join Leading Scholars at Oxford

Translating a never-before-seen Dead Sea Scrolls fragment is exciting enough. But when that fragment paves the way to an all-expenses-paid trip to Oxford, it brings learning to a whole new level.

Haley Cloyd and Daniel Somboonsiri have been selected to attend the Logos Conference, a two-week internship in Oxford sponsored by the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI). Only students working on GSI projects were invited to apply for the summer conference, where world-renowned academic experts will teach them history, theology and textual studies.

‘I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket’

OxfordPhotoCloyd has been working on MU’s GSI Dead Sea Scrolls project since last fall, and Somboonsiri began analyzing the fragment this spring. Biblical Languages Chair Dr. Karl Kutz, who directs this GSI project, told a few of his Hebrew students about the opportunity in January and encouraged them to apply.

Somboonsiri was shocked when he heard that he was chosen for the internship. “I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket in my hand,” he says. “It’s surreal.”

Cloyd was ecstatic when she received the news. “I’m so excited about the Bodleian Library — it has ancient manuscripts, a Gutenburg Bible and manuscripts written by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien!” she says. “And I’m excited to meet more Hebrew nerds from other schools.”

“I’m not surprised they were selected,” says Kutz. “They are both very capable. I’m very proud of them.”

Kutz will attend the second week of the conference, when professors and students work side-by-side with ancient manuscripts from the Green Collection. “I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to the Green family for their stewardship of the resources God has given them,” he says. “I’m looking forward to working on the projects with the students for most of the day. I enjoy the intense academic environment.”

Students from more than 60 schools in North America applied for the internship, and only 30 were selected. Five additional students who have already participated in the internship were chosen to serve as teaching assistants.

“I know we have a very quality program,” says Kutz. “I think it shows in our students by how well they read the language.”

‘Geek heaven’

OxfordStudent2A few years ago, Somboonsiri was doubtful he could excel in his Hebrew classes. “I thought learning the language was going to be the most daunting thing,” he says. “But Dr. Kutz’s curriculum doesn’t depend on rote memorization; instead, you understand how the language lives and breathes.”

This unique approach, coupled with supportive faculty, made Somboonsiri realize he could do more than he ever thought was possible. “The professors here are so passionate about Hebrew — it’s infectious,” he says. “I’ve been inspired to push myself in my studies thanks to their experience and guidance.”

Now all that work has paid off, and Somboonsiri can’t wait to reap the benefits. “I’m looking forward to the dinner chats with the scholars, especially the chats focused on apologetics,” he says. “We’ll get to hear from them about what it looks like to be a person of faith in the world of academia. To have the advice of people who have walked that path will be amazing.”

Somboonsiri plans to follow in their footsteps. After graduation, he wants to earn a Ph.D. and teach theology and Hebrew at a university. “My heart is to disciple people to be passionate about holistically living in Christ by participating in His redemptive mission in the world,” he says. “I would love to spend my life preparing people of the kingdom to live sacrificially as they bear witness to Jesus’ sacrificial love.”

In the meantime, he’s looking forward to representing his school at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. “Multnomah is small, but Dr. Kutz is very respected,” he says. “His language program is geek heaven. It’s the best in the country.”

‘A glimpse of the bigger picture’

OxfordStudent1Cloyd feels the same way. “Multnomah’s Hebrew program has a high level of scholarship, and the professors build that up in their students,” she says. “What’s really cool is that Dr. Kutz comes alongside you and shows you how to do things. He gets to know each student, and then tailors projects to fit the person.”

The individual attention and rigorous courses have given Cloyd a love for Hebrew that she couldn’t image life without. “Our professors encourage curiosity and investigating,” she says. “And you have to be curious to do research. Otherwise, it can get boring.”

Cloyd isn’t just passionate about the research — she’s invested in every word she’s studying. “The professors have given us a love for the Word, for knowing it well and for knowing its history,” she says. “To study the Bible well, you have to respect the saints who came before you and approach the book with humility.”

Like Somboonsiri, Cloyd plans to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation. Her time in Oxford will bring her dream of being a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Studies closer than ever.

“There are the practical ways the internship will help me — it can go on my résumé, and it looks good,” she says. “But even more than that, it’s affirming that what I’m studying isn’t silly. It’s not just a hobby. And it’s not just something to pay the bills. I’m going to be able to do work that I love. This internship is just a glimpse of the bigger picture.”

Interested in finding out more about our Hebrew program? Check out MU's Biblical Hebrew page.

Have questions about MU's programs or enrollment? Send us a note. We'd love to hear from you. 

You’re Invited to MU’s Free Student Recital and Choir Concert Next Tuesday, April 29

piano pictureHey, all!

My name is Peter Wilson, and I'm a music major here at Multnomah. Next Tuesday, April 29, you'll have an awesome opportunity to see what MU's music department has to offer by attending our free Spring Student Recital.

The Ambassador Choir will be presenting a concert in conjunction with the recital, and there will also be a few surprises, including piano recital pieces featuring some of Bach's compositions and vocal presentations from some very talented individuals!

This will be an awesome night filled with community, excitement, art, and great food after the concert. This is something you don't want to miss. I know that a lot of work has been put into this event by everyone in the music department to make it a night to remember, so come join us!

When: Tuesday, April 29, at 7 p.m.

Where: Bradley Hall, Room 1

This is a free event

If you would like more information about the Ambassador Choir or this event, call the Music Ministry Department at 503-251-5390 or email

Interested in MU's music major? Check out our music ministry page.

‘Reaching Hearts for Christ’: Volunteers Share the Mission Behind Spring Thaw

image'There's a lot of family out there'

It's Juan Gonzalez's first year volunteering at Spring Thaw, but the Youth Ministry major knows a thing or two about the event — he attended the retreat with his youth group all four years of high school. "I got saved in eighth grade and was surrounded by a great community and a great youth group," he says. "It made me want to provide the same thing for other kids."

Now a freshman at MU, Gonzalez is excited to contribute to an event that changed his life year after year. "When I was in high school, I'd see only about two other Christians at my school," he says. "But when I came to Spring Thaw, I would get so fired up when I saw how many Christians were here. This event shows people a broader community of believers; it lets them know that there's a lot of family out there."

Gonzalez will wear many hats during the weekend event, and he's eager for each one. "I'll be volunteering in the puppy room and helping out with with junta darts and operation underground," he says. "I want to branch myself out in this community, and I'm excited to get to know more youth groups."

IMG_1316'It's quality fun'

Katie MacDonald is busy turning Roger's Café into a Disney-themed karaoke hot spot: New lights glisten from the ceiling, clouds billow from a fog machine and a disco ball winks over the stage. It's the psychology major's second year volunteering at the event, and she's glowing with enthusiasm. "Disney karaoke is going to be super magical," she says. "My friend and I are going to MC and dress up like princesses; it's going to be awesome."

The junior hopes the karaoke lounge — and all of Spring Thaw for that matter — will be a place where students can relax and have a good time." So often high schoolers get so involved in what other people think about them," she says. "I want them to remember that they're still kids and can have fun. They can be real with each other and let God work. We want them to find their identity in Christ and not anywhere else."

DSCN0930'I want to be a role model'

Rodney DeJager, a Youth Ministry major, agrees. "MU is a safe environment for these students," he says. "We've been praying that the Holy Spirit will be working in them."

The senior has a big heart for high schoolers.  "It's a really crucial time in peoples' lives," he says "I appreciated the support and encouragement I got from my youth pastor. Now I want to be a role model."

This will be DeJager's third year  as a volunteer and his second year as an intern. He and a group of five other interns have taken months to dream, brainstorm, budget and plan for the 44-hour retreat. "It's a valuable experience," he says. "We've talked about all  this stuff in freshman and sophomore classes, and now I'm putting it into practice."

DeJager will continue to hone his leadership skills this weekend as he joins the more than 200 Multnomah volunteers that make the retreat successful. "Spring Thaw is great for marketing and publicity, but it really shows our school's heart for people," he says. "MU genuinely cares for these high school students. It wants to give them this gift — and reach hearts for Christ."

Registration is full, but visit the Spring Thaw website for more information about this retreat.

‘A Labor of Love’: Dr. Hildebrand Reflects on the Ultimate Youth Event

hildebrand_mainWhat do Disney karaoke, theology seminars, laser tag, MU’s campus and 825 high schools students have in common? You guessed it: Spring Thaw. The weekend retreat, open to youth groups and individuals, will kick off this Friday at 7 p.m. Every year brings a unique theme, and 2014 is all about medieval knights, fairy tales and Disney.

Youth Ministries Department Chair Dr. Rob Hildebrand has been running the event since its debut five years ago. "MU was awarded a large grant so it could offer theological training to high school students," he says. For years, the University hosted a leadership program called CREDO, which benefited hundreds of high school students. But when CREDO began to decline, MU needed to reimagine the event. That's when Spring Thaw was born.

Although many other Christian universities offer retreats for high school students, Spring Thaw stands out. "Our event is more community-based because everyone who’s volunteering already lives here," says Hildebrand. More than 200 volunteers — composed of MU students and staff — plan, build and facilitate the retreat each year. A small group of students majoring in Youth Ministry take on larger leadership roles and serve as interns. "Our students do well at getting hired after they intern at this event," Hildebrand says. "A lot of people do ministry lazily, but I want our volunteers to develop a good work ethic. I want them to see that when you do hard work, you really can make things better."

Making Spring Thaw better is something Hildebrand is passionate about. "I love being innovative, and I try to make improvements every year," he says. He was ecstatic to secure Dr. Chap Clark as the main speaker. “In my book, he’s one of the top five youth ministry experts in the world," Hildebrand says. Besides the main sessions with Clark, the high school students will attend theology seminars led by MU faculty."This isn't a shallow, frivolous retreat," says Hildebrand. "I hope the seminars will help students see Christianity as it is and come to grips with who Christ is."

Hildebrand believes that students learn best when they're in a balanced environment, and he injects plenty of activities into the weekend, including comedy skits, a puppy room, bubble soccer, magic shows and a color run. "This really is a labor of love," he says. "Volunteers are going to be tired, it inconveniences staff and students in the dorms are giving up their space. But we’re doing this because we love these high school students. At MU, we're not all about MU — we're about serving and looking beyond ourselves. We care about the Church and the kingdom."

Registration is full, but visit the Spring Thaw website for more information about this retreat.

Quincy Robinson: Preparing the Mind and Spirit

quincy_mainQuincy Robinson is a lot of things: scholar, leader, researcher, president, friend. He has a lot of goals ahead of him: master's degrees, a doctorate degree, a professorship at Stanford or Oxford. And although Multnomah's only a step in his journey, it's a significant step, and it's equipping him to pursue his passions and purpose.

"This school is an amazing place to push you forward," he says. "What lies ahead is going to be easier for me because I'm doing graduate-level work at the undergraduate level. I'm ever indebted to MU. It's like a family. The people here taught me how to love Jesus." Read his story.

Frank Ocampo: Living Joyfully in the Present

frank_mainFrank Ocampo's goal is to open a community center for at-risk youth in his hometown of London, England. MU's Master of Arts in Counseling program is preparing him with rigorous classes and hands-on experience so he can fulfill his dreams.

"I've learned what it means to live joyfully in the present since I've been at Multnomah," he says. "If you have the joy of Christ in you, no one can rob that but yourself." Read his story.

Truly Holistic: MA in Global Development & Justice Flourishes

The inaugural year of Multnomah's MA in Global Development and Justice (MAGDJ) is in full swing. The program, launched last fall, equips students for a lifetime of fruitful service in the vast world of justice initiatives, poverty alleviation, disaster response and compassion projects. I'm happy to highlight this program, especially in light of the two justice-centered events MU hosted last week: the Global Missions Conference and the Justice Conference Portland. The MAGDJ ties in beautifully with Multnomah's holistic approach to the world's toughest problems. I sat down with Intercultural Studies Chair and Director of the MAGDJ, Dr. Greg Burch, to find out more about this dynamic degree.

'A globally-focused graduate program'

imageBurch earned his bachelor's degree at Multnomah in 1994, and then immediately jumped into global development work in Venezuela. He ministered to homeless youth for several years before moving to Costa Rica to teach at a seminary.

One day, he received an email from MU's Intercultural Studies Chair, Dr. Tom Kopp, who asked him what he thought a globally-focused graduate program in humanitarian studies would look like. Many students had been asking about such a degree, and Kopp wanted to turn their hopes into a reality.

Burch sent Kopp his thoughts. The program never got off the ground, but when Kopp retired from Multnomah two years later, Burch applied for his position. He got the job, and moved with his wife and two kids to Portland. As soon as he began working at MU in summer 2012, Burch threw himself into crafting a program proposal for an MA in Global Development and Justice. The board and accreditors approved it, and a new major was born.

'A fabulous place to prepare'

Students received the program with open arms. Karen Sele says she always knew MU was an intentionally Bible-based university, but she wasn't prepared for the personalized care and customized teaching the MAGDJ program gives her: "I'm impressed that the most intensive assignments are flexibly structured to complement each individual’s focus," she says. "The members of our cohort bring a valuable tapestry of backgrounds, experiences and views to our discussions. After only one term of learning and supporting each other, we’ve developed a deep community of friendship which will extend beyond this program as we come alongside God in his work of restoration here and around the world. If God is calling you to this kind of work, Multnomah is a fabulous place to prepare!"

Sele and her classmates will completes 300 hours of internship before graduating. Burch is currently helping students find their ideal internship matches; he's compiled a list of organizations they can work for, and is busy writing several letters of recommendation. His students are applying to International Justice Mission, World ReliefSamaritan's Purse and several other well-respected for-profits and nonprofits. "We do a good job of networking with organizations who can hire our students after they get their degree," he says. "I want my students to go all over the world after they graduate."

Serving in a quality way

Burch says his students are very different from one another, but they're all earning a MAGDJ degree for the same reason — they have a deep desire to help others and to make the world a better place. "These students are amazing," he says. "They're so passionate about reaching out to people on the fringes of society."

But it takes more than passion to work in the field. Early burnout is a common issue. "Many people only last about two years when they work with a group like at-risk youth," says Burch. "But I want our students to be able to serve a lifetime." Burch and his team of professors make it a priority to train students in the art of soul care, self-care and spiritual formation, "so they can serve in a quality way," he says.

Although Burch dreams of growing his program, he's more concerned about making sure his students are equipped to tackle anything that comes their way. "I'm not numbers-focused," Burch says. "I want to mentor my students and walk with them."

'Truly holistic'

There are other global development and justice degrees out there, but Burch recommends MU's program for a few good reasons: "It's faith-based and truly holistic," he says. "We incorporate spirituality into the curriculum. We want the people we help to develop in their relationship with God and grow in their leadership abilities. A lot of programs just focus on the financial aspect, but humans are whole beings, and we have more than economic needs."

Burch says there are more jobs in this field than anywhere else. More than 1.9 billion people live on less than $1 per day. Sixteen thousand children die from curable diseases each day. "If you're looking to get rich, then this type of work isn't for you," Burch says. "But if you're looking to serve people and see lives change — this is it."

To learn more about this program, check out the MAGDJ page and read Dr. Burch's article.

MU will also offer a part-time MAGDJ program at its Reno-Tahoe site beginning fall 2014.