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Nazarene Theological College, a gift to the Church…

Homepage Feature — 23rd October 2019

Nazarene Theological College, a gift to the Church of the Nazarene, the broader religious community and beyond.

Dr Carla D Sunberg General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene

The challenges facing higher education around the globe are great. We are living in a time of seismic change and this can lead us in two directions; either we become engulfed in worry and concern about the future, or we embrace the opportunities that change affords and we press on. 

Often people speak of the unprecedented challenges that must be faced in this generation, but we also recognize that every generation has had their unique threats, and in the midst of it all have learned not just to survive, but often to thrive. 

Nazarene Theological College in Manchester is not just surviving but is thriving. Across the globe we see the impact of NTC on theology and praxis, bringing together the people of God around conversations that lead to health and vitality in the kingdom of God. 

My own experience at NTC was life-shaping. I came to Manchester nearly fifteen years ago to begin work on a PhD in historical theology. Many people asked me about my intent in studying and how I planned to use my degree for my career goals.  At that point and time, I had no answer except that my time at NTC appeared to be a divine appointment and I would journey through the experience and see where it may lead. It was at NTC that I discovered a community that was not only academic, but lived out what they believed. Whether it was interaction with the professors, or fellowship during coffee, the conversations were enriching and challenging. I knew that I would be changed by the experience which stretched me far beyond the limitations which I had placed upon myself. This was a community that believed in me and encouraged me to embrace what I could become. 

The affirmation of women in ministry is an expression of holiness theology that is embodied by NTC.

Dr Carla D Sunberg

The language of holiness permeates the work of NTC. Some institutions, even within the holiness movement, have intentionally created distance between themselves and the message of holiness, somehow relegating this beautiful theology to the margins. At NTC the holiness of Jesus Christ provides the foundation for theology and practise exhibited by life in the kingdom of God. The result is that this timeless theology can be taken from England and contextualized across the globe. 

In my current role in the church I have the privilege of traveling the world and witnessing the direct impact of NTC. The imprint of the holiness message experienced in Manchester can be seen across the African continent, in Central America, Canada and the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In every context I discover faithful leaders wrestling with urgent concerns including migration, sex trafficking, natural disasters, gender-based violence, unemployment, poor health care and more. In these varied locations I discover thoughtful dialogue around theology and contextualized practise that results in action. Maybe it’s not so much of an imprint which NTC leaves on the world, as it is a footprint that is on the move and making a difference. 

The affirmation of women in ministry is an expression of holiness theology that is embodied by NTC. Whether Christian or secular society, many cultures repress women because they fail to see women as having been created in the image of God. Today we find female NTC graduates serving as principals of institutions of higher learning where they can speak into and shape the lives of their students. NTC women are serving on boards of educational institutions as well as businesses and organizations where their voices are needed, bringing balance and health to discourse. Female faculty members, educated at NTC, are bringing new insights into research and the classroom from India to Latvia, Japan and beyond. Often standing out in their particular settings, these women have become living witnesses to the message of holiness, living out and fulfilling their calling in reflecting Christ. 

The result is that we do not just survive, but thrive. This is the pathway of impact that NTC has chosen and the results speak for themselves.

Dr Carla D Sunberg

NTC is not only visible in Manchester, or in extension sites, or even in the lives of students, but also in publications. The number of books coming from NTC graduates and professors which can currently be found on academic and personal library shelves continues to increase.  For years to come the words that have been written will speak into the theological conversations of our day.  Individuals who take the opportunity to crack open these writings will be affected for years to come. 

Recently a message was received at my office in Kansas City from a pastor in Louisiana. I had the privilege of editing a book called, “Why Holiness?” which included essays from numerous authors who had studied at NTC. This pastor wrote, “I have just finished reading the book, ‘Why Holiness?’ and the only think I can say is that I wish I had read it fifty years ago. I will be ordering a number of copies for family and friends.” This reach of NTC includes lifelong learning for those who may never have the opportunity to visit the beautiful campus in Manchester.

Nazarene Theological College in Manchester is a gift to the Church of the Nazarene, the broader religious community and beyond. While there are unique challenges to the world in which we currently live, the global nature of NTC’s reach helps to draw us into intimate conversation. Instead of succumbing to worry, a healthy environment for engagement is nurtured. As we interact with those representing a variety of perspectives from around the world we discover that community within the kingdom of God leads to solutions. The result is that we do not just survive, but thrive. This is the pathway of impact that NTC has chosen and the results speak for themselves.

Thank you Dr Carla D Sunberg for writing this article and supporting NTC for many years.