Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary and Western Seminary have recently taken a significant step forward in working together to provide quality biblical and theological education in the Northwest. This spring, both boards approved a resolution to form a joint task force that will investigate the benefits of a consolidation between the two institutions. If successful, Multnomah and Western students would benefit from shared faculty, academic programs, enrollment procedures, and library resources.
"The possibility of a formal consolidation between Multnomah and Western was not something any of us were deliberately seeking six months ago," said Dr. Daniel Lockwood, president of Multnomah. "But I believe trustees of both institutions were always open to the leading of the Spirit of God no matter how radical or how surprising that leading might be.
"Multnomah and Western share so many common values, missional goals, doctrinal distinctives, and historic connections that partnering together to impact the Northwest with rigorous biblical, pastoral, and spiritual training made sense on so many levels."
"Over the many years the ministries of Multnomah and Western have impacted this region, the question has been raised as to why these two fine missions don't become one," said Western Seminary's President Dr. Bert Downs. "I find it remarkable and totally of the Lord that at a time when both seem to be at their individual strongest, the Lord is stirring that thought again."
The Spirit Behind Consolidation
The process started last year when the chair of Western Seminary's board of trustees approached Multnomah with the idea of the two institutions collaborating. Since then, the respective boards have discussed and prayed about the details behind such an endeavor. "Back in December we began asking the question ‘Can we serve the Lord better as one team rather than two?'" Western Seminary's board chair Dr. Tom Tunnicliff said. "The answer to that question so far has been nothing but a resounding ‘yes!'"
A resolution from the two boards in April and May stated that "after a period of prayer and discussion we, the executive committees of the respective Boards of Trustees of Western Seminary and Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary, are united in sensing the Lord's leading to partner together in a united enterprise of theological education. Trusting in His timing, we affirm a process of moving forward to glorify the Lord and His Kingdom through the formation of a special task force."
The Task Force
The task force, which met for the first time on June 27th, is responsible for the studying, planning, and implementing of a consolidation plan to guide the boards through several stages of assessment, negotiation, agreement, and implementation while providing the stakeholder communities with timely information and communication.
Chaired by Dr. Lockwood, the task force will be comprised of key trustees, administrators, faculty, and alumni from each institution that will represent critical constituencies. The task force will report to the two boards of trustees on a regular basis with information and recommendations. President Emeritus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Dr. Robert Cooley, who also works as an organizational consultant specializing in seminary education, has been retained to help facilitate this process. The task force aims to complete its work over the next two years.
"It is my sincere belief that the individuals involved on the executive committees at Western and Multnomah are not pursuing any agenda other than to discern God's will in this matter and to follow His leading," Multnomah's board chair Dr. Jack Dryden said. "We have been entrusted with the leadership of institutions that God has blessed and used for great good in the world."
Leaders from Multnomah and Western have been working together to determine how the consolidation may unfold. "This entire discussion began in prayer, genuinely seeking the Lord's guidance and wisdom," Dr. Tunnicliff said. "Prayer has continued to be at the forefront, not an after-thought."
"I think that after several months of talking and praying together the question of collaboration shifted from ‘why should we do this?' to ‘why not?'" Dr. Lockwood added.
For more information about the Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary and Western Seminary consolidation, go to www.multnomah.edu/consolidation or contact Multnomah's Director of Promotions and Communications Robert Leary at 503.251.6452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.