When Pastor Mike Stewart decided to spring for a Master of Divinity degree, he knew he couldn’t look far from home. The 43-year-old’s roots had burrowed into Reno, Nev. — and into the church he and his wife planted 10 years ago.
So when Stewart discovered Multnomah’s Reno-Tahoe campus, he was delighted. “I love the convenience of experiencing world-class education 15 minutes from my office,” he says. “With my family being planted in Reno, an accredited resource like Multnomah is a God-send.”
'Equipped to minister'
MU’s presence in Reno-Tahoe was a long time in the making. Conversations began more than 15 years ago when several church and business leaders from northern Nevada approached Multnomah about the possibility of creating a Bible college in Reno.
“Many of our young people were leaving Reno for their college education,” says Dean of Students Tony Slavin. “But then they would never return to Nevada. We needed a place where they could be equipped to minister in the church here.”
'Filling a role no one else is filling'
In 2008, MU’s board of trustees approved a recommendation to merge with a little school in Reno called Meadows Bible Institute. After the board at Meadows accepted, both institutions negotiated an agreement that would transfer all Meadow’s assets to Multnomah. Under the direction of former president Daniel Lockwood, the agreement was signed that summer, and the first accredited biblical university in Nevada was born.
“We’re filling a role that no one else is filling,” says Director John McKendricks. “And we’re maintaining connections with the broader faith community.”
Slavin agrees. “What’s going on in the classroom is inseparable with what’s happening in local churches,” he says. “Students are gaining a hands-on approach to ministry from well-educated pastors.”
'A strong biblical foundation'
One of those students is Alina Bjerre, a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher earning her Bible and theology degree. Like Stewart, Bjerre has deep roots in Reno and wanted an education close to home. Multnomah was the perfect fit. “I was so excited about what I would learn here,” she says. “I see value in getting this degree. We should all have a strong biblical foundation.”
Bjerre is building that foundation with the help of some talented and caring faculty. “The professors are fascinating to listen to and passionate about what they teach,” she says. “And they’re so personable — I feel like I can talk to them about anything.”
But what stands out to Bjerre the most is the unique community Multnomah attracts. “People come here with different interpretations, but we all love Jesus,” she says.
'Diversity within our unity'
Slavin feels the same way. “We have amazing students spanning across all ages and representing 17 denominations,” he explains. “MU creates an atmosphere that encourages diversity within our unity. These students have become my family and friends and co-learners. We teach them how to study and how to think, but not what to believe.”
That’s something Stewart has greatly appreciated. “There's a grounded, practical feel to the classes and intended outcomes at Multnomah,” he says. “I've been able to connect so much of what I’ve learned to the church I pastor. MU also provides a place for students to gather in a neutral environment for fellowship and discussion. My education has been valuable, but the relationships I’ve developed have been invaluable.”