Transitions and Transformation – Dr. Mark Dalbey
May 25, 2012
In light of recent announcements from our Board of Trustees and Dr. Bryan Chapell regarding upcoming leadership transitions at Covenant Seminary, I would like to share with you some thoughts on what we see as an exciting new chapter in the life and ministry of this institution. Let me begin, though, by speaking briefly about how, in the last seven days, we have seen with fresh clarity the amazing grace of God.
Over the course of the past week, we have once again been privileged to witness strong evidence of gospel transformation in the lives of those who are in the midst of ministry transitions. At baccalaureate last Thursday, four student testimonies had a profound impact on the seminary community as each expressed appreciation for God’s deep work of sanctifying grace in their lives. Each recounted how powerfully the Lord has used their time both in and out of the classroom while at Covenant to prepare and sustain them as they transition to the new places to which God is calling them for ministry. At graduation the next evening, we awarded 176 degrees, 70 of which were MDivs—making this one of our largest graduating classes! We were blessed with a wonderful message on the resurrection of Christ from Professor Emeritus of Church History Dr. David Calhoun, who charged the graduates to hold on to Christ, knowing that, despite whatever challenges they may face in the places God is sending them, their labor in him is not in vain. (Use the link below to see video of Dr. Calhoun’s message.) Then, earlier this week, faculty members and their spouses joined my wife, Beth, and me at our home for an end-of-the-academic-year celebration picnic and a farewell to Associate Professor of Educational Ministries Dr. Donald Guthrie as he transitions to a new place of ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. We shared with one another the significant ways in which we are better people and more effective teachers and mentors because of Donald’s transforming impact on our lives and calling. The evidence of God’s grace at work in all these ways has been very encouraging to me personally and to our faculty, staff, and students as well.
As Dr. Chapell transitions into his new role as Chancellor, and as I take on the role of Interim President on June 1, I am confident that the Lord will continue to bless and use Covenant Seminary for his purposes as he does his ever-deepening, dynamic, and ongoing work of gospel transformation in a time of transition. We rest secure in the knowledge that God is present here and working mightily to build his Kingdom by preparing new leaders for his church, and that he continues to unfold progressively his glorious story of redemption across generations and geography, and into all of life.
Indeed, during a period when the Seminary has faced a variety of changes and economic challenges similar to those many of our congregations have been dealing with recently, the Seminary is, in many ways, actually stronger and better equipped to understand and serve the specific needs of today’s church. The future offers many exciting opportunities for us—opportunities that are only possible because of the dedication, diligence, and sacrificial service of those who founded, led, and supported the work of this institution during its first half-century. Our commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible, the Reformed faith, and our core values is stronger than ever. Yet, at the same time we are enthusiastic and passionate about preparing pastors and leaders for the church of 2025 and beyond who are rooted in this unchanging foundation while also being equipped to engage others effectively with the life-transforming power of the gospel of Christ in a wide range of contemporary ministry contexts.
In the coming months we will be communicating more about several initiatives we have been working on that we believe will have a significant impact for Christ’s church. Plans are currently under way regarding the revitalization of the Francis Schaeffer Institute as well as the development of several strategic ministry partnerships with local churches and organizations that will enhance our ability to train future pastors and church leaders and help reach various populations within both the city and county of St. Louis. The potential these initiatives and partnerships will offer to provide valuable mentored internship opportunities for students in contexts similar to what they may experience after graduation is exciting.
We are deeply thankful to God for his sustaining grace to us at Covenant Seminary. We remain energized, motivated, and challenged to pursue excellence by our strong institutional purpose to glorify the triune God by training his servants to walk in God’s grace, minister God’s Word, and equip God’s people—all for God’s mission. We are grateful for the blessings of the past, joyful about the blessings of the present, and eager to receive the blessings of the future as we “look to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Please be in prayer for continued gospel transformation for us as we look forward to seeing what the Lord will do next through this ministry.
Letter from Dr. Chapell – A Time of Transition
May 9, 2012
As our Board of Trustees announced a few days ago, I will be transitioning from my post as President of Covenant Seminary as of June 1, 2012, to the position of Chancellor. I will assume the Chancellor responsibilities following my current sabbatical. Though this move may come as a surprise to some, such a transition has been part of our discussions for several years as the Board, the President’s Cabinet, and I sought to establish a strategic vision for the future of the Seminary’s leadership. As the Board has worked to discern the next phase in the development of the Seminary’s mission, this seemed an appropriate time for the transition to occur.
My wife, Kathy, and I have considered it a great privilege to serve the Covenant Seminary family, the PCA, and Christ’s body by helping to prepare future church leaders to proclaim the gospel of grace. We now give special thanks to our God for a Board that has provided this opportunity to direct our energies to the areas of service we most treasure. I am excited by the opportunity to focus my time on serving as an ambassador for the mission and ministry of Covenant Seminary. As Chancellor, I will continue to be available as a consultant for future Seminary leaders, teach homiletics courses, travel and speak on behalf of the Seminary, and assist in building and nurturing relationships with our many alumni, donors, friends, and other faithful supporters.
As I look back on nearly three decades of service with Covenant Seminary, first as a faculty member, then in various administrative roles, and finally as President—not to mention my time as a student here before that—I am struck by how much of my life and ministry, and that of my family as well, has revolved around and been influenced by the godly people and values of this amazing institution. Kathy and I are profoundly grateful for the many friends in the Seminary community, past and present, who have made it such a joy to live and serve here. We are grateful to have been able to raise our children in a community so steeped in the gospel of grace and so rich with Christ-like love. We are grateful as well for the many ways in which the Lord has blessed the institution during our time here, and how he has grown it so beautifully—through the labors of many faithful and dedicated servants—into a place of increasingly expanding influence for the gospel.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, the wise Preacher reminds us: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Eccl. 3:1 kjv). As one season in the life of Covenant Seminary draws to a close and a new one begins, please pray with me for the Lord’s continued blessing on an institution that has been such a powerfully transforming part of my own life, and of the lives of so many others who have lived, studied, taught, worked, and gone forth from here to minister God’s Word. Pray for wisdom and discernment for the Seminary’s leaders during this time of transition, especially Dr. Mark Dalbey as he assumes the role of Interim President, and the search committee our Board has established to seek the institution’s next President. May they—and we—keep our eyes and hearts fixed always on the One who leads and guides us, and may his boundless loving-kindness spur us on to run the race before us with perseverance and with hope.
In his service,
Communication from the Board of Trustees Regarding
Leadership Transition at Covenant Seminary
May 1, 2012
Since 1956, Covenant Theological Seminary has remained faithful to the Scriptures, true to our Reformed confession, and rooted in the gospel as we fulfill our mission of training pastors and church leaders for effective ministry. As evidenced by the more than 3,300 alumni who are currently ministering in all 50 US states and in more than 40 countries, Covenant Seminary’s decades of theological training has, by God’s grace, had a manifold impact. Today, that commitment remains strong as our faculty of pastor-scholars unites around the charge of equipping students for rapidly changing local and global ministry contexts.
From its founding, Covenant Seminary has been blessed with a legacy of gifted leadership that has strengthened the achievement of mission and prepared generations of those sent to minister. With that in mind, at the April, 2012 meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously moved forward with a goal set in prior years to transition President Bryan Chapell to assume the role of Chancellor, a more outward facing position at the Seminary. Effective June 1, 2012, Dr. Chapell will move from his role as President of Covenant Seminary to assume the new position of Chancellor. As Chancellor, Dr. Chapell will focus on representing the Seminary among its external constituencies, continuing his teaching duties, and engaging in opportunities that advance the Gospel. Dr.Chapell will assume these responsibilities upon his return from his current sabbatical.
Dr. Chapell has responded, “My wife, Kathy, and I have considered it a great privilege to serve the Covenant Seminary family, the PCA, and Christ’s body by helping to prepare future church leaders to proclaim the gospel of grace. We now give special thanks to our God for a Board that has provided this opportunity to direct our energies to the areas of service we most treasure.”
Consequently, the Board of Trustees named Dr. Mark Dalbey, current Vice President for Academics, to the role of Interim President, effective June 1, 2012. Dr. Dalbey began serving at Covenant Seminary in 1999 after 15 years of pastoral ministry. He has served for 10 years as Dean of Students, followed by a period of three years as Vice President for Academics. Dr. Dalbey also serves as Assistant Professor of Practical Theology. As Interim President, Dr. Dalbey will assume the management of the institution’s operations and academics.
Additionally, a search committee will begin a formal process of recommending a new President. Board member, PCA ruling elder, and former Board Chairman, Walt Turner, has been named by the Board as Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee. The Committee, comprised of representatives from the faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees, will lead the Seminary through the Presidential search process.
As Covenant Seminary looks to the future, Board Chairman Bill French reflects, “We are grateful to the Lord for the 25 years of dedicated leadership from Dr. Chapell, and look forward to his participation in a new role, championing the mission of Covenant Theological Seminary, and proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The purpose of Covenant Theological Seminary is to glorify the triune God
by training his servants to walk in God’s grace, minister God’s Word,
and equip God’s people—all for God’s mission.