Mark Dalbey, interim president of Covenant Theological Seminary sent the following letter Thursday afternoon:
In light of recent announcements from our Board of Trustees and Dr. Bryan Chapell regarding upcoming leadership transitions at Covenant Seminary, I would like to share with you some thoughts on what we see as an exciting new chapter in the life and ministry of this institution. Let me begin, though, by speaking briefly about how, in the last seven days, we have seen with fresh clarity the amazing grace of God.
Over the course of the past week, we have once again been privileged to witness strong evidence of gospel transformation in the lives of those who are in the midst of ministry transitions. At baccalaureate last Thursday, four student testimonies had a profound impact on the seminary community as each expressed appreciation for God’s deep work of sanctifying grace in their lives. Each recounted how powerfully the Lord has used their time both in and out of the classroom while at Covenant to prepare and sustain them as they transition to the new places to which God is calling them for ministry. At graduation the next evening, we awarded 176 degrees, 70 of which were MDivs—making this one of our largest graduating classes! We were blessed with a wonderful message on the resurrection of Christ from Professor Emeritus of Church History Dr. David Calhoun, who charged the graduates to hold on to Christ, knowing that, despite whatever challenges they may face in the places God is sending them, their labor in him is not in vain. (Use the link here to see video of Dr. Calhoun’s message.) Then, earlier this week, faculty members and their spouses joined my wife, Beth, and me at our home for an end-of-the-academic-year celebration picnic and a farewell to Associate Professor of Educational Ministries Dr. Donald Guthrie as he transitions to a new place of ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. We shared with one another the significant ways in which we are better people and more effective teachers and mentors because of Donald’s transforming impact on our lives and calling. The evidence of God’s grace at work in all these ways has been very encouraging to me personally and to our faculty, staff, and students as well.
As Dr. Chapell transitions into his new role as Chancellor, and as I take on the role of Interim President on June 1, I am confident that the Lord will continue to bless and use Covenant Seminary for his purposes as he does his ever-deepening, dynamic, and ongoing work of gospel transformation in a time of transition. We rest secure in the knowledge that God is present here and working mightily to build his Kingdom by preparing new leaders for his church, and that he continues to unfold progressively his glorious story of redemption across generations and geography, and into all of life.
Indeed, during a period when the Seminary has faced a variety of changes and economic challenges similar to those many of our congregations have been dealing with recently, the Seminary is, in many ways, actually stronger and better equipped to understand and serve the specific needs of today’s church. The future offers many exciting opportunities for us—opportunities that are only possible because of the dedication, diligence, and sacrificial service of those who founded, led, and supported the work of this institution during its first half-century. Our commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible, the Reformed faith, and our core values is stronger than ever. Yet, at the same time we are enthusiastic and passionate about preparing pastors and leaders for the church of 2025 and beyond who are rooted in this unchanging foundation while also being equipped to engage others effectively with the life-transforming power of the gospel of Christ in a wide range of contemporary ministry contexts.
In the coming months we will be communicating more about several initiatives we have been working on that we believe will have a significant impact for Christ’s church. Plans are currently under way regarding the revitalization of the Francis Schaeffer Institute as well as the development of several strategic ministry partnerships with local churches and organizations that will enhance our ability to train future pastors and church leaders and help reach various populations within both the city and county of St. Louis. The potential these initiatives and partnerships will offer to provide valuable mentored internship opportunities for students in contexts similar to what they may experience after graduation is exciting.
We are deeply thankful to God for his sustaining grace to us at Covenant Seminary. We remain energized, motivated, and challenged to pursue excellence by our strong institutional purpose to glorify the triune God by training his servants to walk in God’s grace, minister God’s Word, and equip God’s people—all for God’s mission. We are grateful for the blessings of the past, joyful about the blessings of the present, and eager to receive the blessings of the future as we “look to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). Please be in prayer for continued gospel transformation for us as we look forward to seeing what the Lord will do next through this ministry.