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Graduate School of Theology Celebrates 30th Anniversary

by University Relations

Established in 1983 by founding dean Les Blank, Ph.D., the Azusa Pacific Graduate School of Theology celebrates its 30th anniversary on Saturday, April 12, 2014. The school will host a series of celebratory events, including an open house featuring the Graduate School of Theology Timeline exhibit, a book signing and display, and an exhibition of two volumes of The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition sponsored by Special Collections. The day will also include an awards luncheon honoring alumni, a lecture on holy living, and a gala dinner.

In the last two decades, the school has conferred 1,045 degrees upon remarkable men and women committed to taking the God First motto with them throughout the world. “We maintain relationships with hundreds of gifted alumni who serve as significant leaders in the churches and denominations connected to APU,” said T. Scott Daniels, Ph.D., dean and professor, School of Theology. “As a regional seminary, APU graduates stand on the front line of Kingdom work throughout Southern California and beyond.”

With a wide range of offerings, including master’s degree programs in divinity, youth ministry, pastoral studies, and theological studies, as well as a Doctor of Ministry, the school provides expert preparation for seminary, church and parachurch ministry management, and Christian educational ministry. The school also houses several centers that serve as valuable resources for students–El Centro Teológico Hispano, the Friends Center, and the Free Methodist Center–each of which expands the scope and reach of the school and its students. These resources provide practical tools for students seeking to serve the Church in effective and relevant ways, and add to the rich heritage of God-honoring excellence, sacrificial service, and passion for the Kingdom.

“The graduate faculty and staff at APU significantly impacted my life in ways that still bring forth fruit in my ministry,” said Doctor of Ministry student Kay Wilson, M.A. ’03. “What I experience as a doctoral student goes far beyond classroom assignments and knowledge alone. That rich learning and engagement has become a part of who I am today and how I live out my faith in every aspect of my life. The academic rigor coupled with the opportunity to develop skills necessary in ministry far exceeded my expectations, but the spiritual transformation that resulted within me serves as the greatest reward. I continue reaping the benefits of my experience at Azusa Pacific as I stay connected with faculty, staff, and the many opportunities APU offers to its students and alumni.”

“Since the beginning, our experiential learning emphasis has set us apart,” said Donald Thorsen, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Theology and Ethics. “While many seminaries offer only a year of supervised ministry or field education, APU requires every student to serve in the field within a supervised ministry for the entire three-year Master of Divinity program. This immersion and integration adds value and authority to our programs.”

“APU’s Graduate School of Theology was formed to make sure that those called to ministry are as prepared as possible for the mission God has for them,” said Daniels. “That foundational concern has not changed in 30 years. Our goal is to make it possible for men and women to become healthy pastors, missional leaders, and spiritually mature disciple makers in every area of ministry.”

Originally published in the Winter '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).