Joshua Sweeden was installed as the 8th dean of the faculty at Nazarene Theological Seminary in a chapel service held October 24 at the NTS campus.
Sweeden holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Christian Ministries from Point Loma Nazarene University, a Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Practical Theology from the Boston University School of Theology. He is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and has served in various ministerial capacities for the denomination, including local churches, Nazarene higher education, Global Mission, and Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. He is the author of several articles and book chapters, reviews, and denominational publications. Josh lives in Kansas City with his wife, NCM Director Nell Becker Sweeden, and their two boys, Eli and Asher.
In his address, Sweeden noted the challenges of education and ministry in a rapidly changing world and the unique role seminaries can play.
"As a result of the shifting landscape, both the church and the academy are having to rediscover themselves in a new era," Sweeden said. "And right in the middle of it are seminaries; ecclesial-based graduate schools of theology whose primary task is a practical-theological one."
Sweeden shared his vision for NTS academics.
"The task of a seminary is to help the church be the church,” he said. “At Nazarene Theological Seminary, we are not waiting, but moving forward in our task 'to nourish, nurture, discipline, and resource the pastoral and ecclesial imagination'* We are confident that God has called God’s people for such a time as this."
The service included charges by representatives of the student body and the seminary faculty.
"We're asking you to set an example for us," said student leader Abe Powers. "We are charging you not just to lead us to knowledge and provide us with a degree, but to lead us to Christ and worship Him with us."
Judith Schwanz offered a charge on behalf of the faculty.
"We ask you to hold up for the church the need for a vision of a well-prepared clergy with deep biblical and theological convictions that inform and shape ministry practice," Schwanz said. "We also ask you to represent us in the area of theological academia so that the fruits of our Wesleyan heritage serve as a voice and a gift to the Christian Church."
Before offering a prayer of consecration and blessing, President-elect Jeren Rowell affirmed the strong leadership Sweeden has displayed during the seminary's recent search for a new president. He also conveyed his enthusiasm about the future.
"As we anticipate working together to guide this seminary into its next and exciting chapter, I am delighted for the opportunity to partner with Dr. Sweeden as we forge a fresh path for the continuing and increasing vitality of NTS," Rowell said.
NTS invites the church to join in prayer for Sweeden and the ministry of the seminary in the days to come. More information about academics at NTS can be found at nts.edu.
*A phrase quoted from Craig Dykstra in “Pastoral and Ecclesial Imagination.” In Dorothy C. Bass and Craig R. Dykstra. For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry (Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub, 2008), 43.