CHICAGO (September 19, 2012) – David W. Kersten was installed as the 11th dean of North Park Theological Seminary on Sunday as the seminary celebrated its annual Fall Convocation, welcoming new and returning students for the academic year.
“I am profoundly aware of the many shoulders I stand upon, and I’m grateful for the heritage and legacy of North Park Theological Seminary,” Kersten said. “I want to express my deep appreciation to the entire faculty, staff and the interim leadership team that guided the seminary through a season of transition and a lengthy search process. In this new role, my goal is to keep student formation and learning the focal point of our work.”
In his charge to students, Kersten cited Song of Solomon 2:10: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” While acknowledging that the verse has been interpreted in many ways, he characterized it as a call to action. He urged students and faculty to hear God’s voice and allow themselves to receive God’s love.
James R. Sandberg, pastor of Trinity Evangelical Covenant Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois, delivered the homily in which he exhorted students, Kersten, and the faculty to live knowing that “Nothing is impossible with God.”
The event was held in North Park University’s Anderson Chapel and webcast live to an international audience. President David Parkyn presided over the convocation and described the local gathering as well as the global audience watching on the webcast as “a representation of a host of God’s people.”
Parkyn led the installation litany that included sections delivered by Paul Hawkinson, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees; Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, associate professor of theology and ethics; and Evangelical Covenant Church President Gary Walter. Deborah Penny, associate director of field education, led a prayer of dedication and Parkyn presented Kersten with a Celtic cross as a symbol of his leadership appointment.
Eight representatives of seminaries of other denominations and faith traditions were represented.
New and returning seminary students were introduced and welcomed by Stephen Chester, acting dean of academic programs, and Deborah Auger, dean of students and community life.
Kersten began his duties at the seminary August 1. He was formally called to his new role during the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church in June. The university Board of Trustees had earlier nominated Kersten.