Seminary in Oregon will Offer New Theology Degree for Native North Americans

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A partnership between George Fox Evangelical Seminary and the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies allows for introduction of master’s degree in intercultural studies program.

This partnership will enable the seminary to extend its reach to people for whom theological education would otherwise not be an option

A partnership finalized in June between George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Oregon and the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies will result in a new theological education program designed for Native North Americans.

The first offering will be a master of arts in intercultural studies program, tentatively scheduled to begin in January of 2011.

Terms of the agreement call for theological education for Native North Americans and other indigenous peoples to be delivered using instructional approaches and materials developed by NAIITS, according to Terry LeBlanc, executive director of NAIITS.

The courses will be written, directed and taught by faculty of national Native scholars, and each class will incorporate Native worldview and values. The entire program is built around an andragogical (adult learning) rather than pedagogical approach, allowing for greater creativity and flexibility for students to learn in their own unique cultural and social contexts.

Since its inception 10 years ago, NAIITS has delivered seven symposiums on theology and mission, published six journals and facilitated opportunities for graduate and post-graduate study for Native students in partnerships with various seminaries, according to Randy Woodley, distinguished associate professor of faith and culture and director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox.

As a NAIITS board member, Woodley will serve as a liaison between the two organizations. “There is a lot of excitement about this partnership, with both parties having prayerfully undertaken their roles in light of several centuries of misunderstanding and broken treaties between our two communities,” said Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee.

“This partnership will enable the seminary to extend its reach to people for whom theological education would otherwise not be an option,” said Chuck Conniry, vice president and dean of George Fox Evangelical Seminary. “Our relationship with NAIITS promises to enrich the culture of our institution and make us all better teachers and scholars.”

Richard Twiss, a Lakota who serves as vice chairman of the NAIITS Board of Directors, added, “Our vision for NAIITS has been to see Native men and women journey down the road of a living heart relationship with Jesus Christ in a transformative way – one which does not require the rejection of their God-given social and cultural identity.”

This marks the first time such a distinguished group of Native North American men and women scholars – who are also ministry practitioners – have created such an innovative approach to theological education, according to Ray Aldred, a Cree professor of theology in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and incoming chair of the NAIITS board.

LeBlanc, a Mi’kmaq from Canada, said the program features several innovative approaches to theological education and leadership development, stating, “The program is deeply rooted in Native thought and concerns.”

Student applications for the new program will be available upon final approval with links on both websites: georgefox.edu/admission/index.html and naiits.com. For more information, contact Anita Keith, NAIITS coordinator, at office@naiits.com, or LeBlanc at terry(at)naiits(dot)com.

George Fox Evangelical Seminary offers a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree in leadership and spiritual formation, global missional leadership, and semiotics and future studies. Also offered is a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degrees in theological studies, spiritual formation and ministry leadership. Students also may earn a certificate in spiritual formation and discipleship.

George Fox University is ranked by Forbes as one of the top 100 colleges in the country and highest among Christian colleges. George Fox is the only Christian university in the Pacific Northwest classified by U.S. News & World Report as a national university. More than 3,300 students attend classes on the university’s campus in Newberg, Ore., and at teaching centers in Portland, Salem, and Redmond, Ore., and Boise, Idaho. George Fox offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 40 majors, degree-completion programs for working adults, five seminary degrees, and 12 master’s and doctoral degrees.

Contact:
Chuck Conniry
Dean, George Fox Evangelical Seminary
503-554-6152

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