TIGARD — Two decades after a merger that resulted in the creation of George Fox Evangelical Seminary, that same entity has undergone a name change in an effort to strengthen its regional presence and better expand its national outreach.
Effective Jan. 9, George Fox Evangelical Seminary in Tigard became known as “Portland Seminary.” It will remain associated with George Fox University and continue to offer six graduate-level degrees at its Portland Center location, although the names of two of those degrees will change and there will be some modifications to the curriculum.
The new name reflects the school’s embracing of place. In the words of Chuck Conniry, vice president and dean of the seminary, “Portland has emerged on the national consciousness and is now one of the top destinations for people moving within our country. It’s an outdoor-loving city at the confluence of two historic rivers and also the confluence of the churched and the unchurched — a place where an increasingly secular culture has made faith less cultural and more personal.
“It’s a place where people mistrust religion, but still seek the spiritual, and a place where society’s relationship to the church is in flux. What better place to prepare our faith leaders for tomorrow’s challenges?”
Along with a name change are changes to the seminary’s programs themselves. Specifically, the school will continue to offer five master’s degrees and one doctorate (doctor of ministry), but two programs will undergo name and curriculum changes: The Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation program will be rebranded Master of Arts in Spiritual Direction, and the Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership will become a Master of Arts in Ministry (with a specialization). New specializations include leadership, spiritual formation and discipleship, spiritual direction, spiritual direction supervision, creation care, Biblical studies, Christian history and theology, and intercultural studies. The changes in curriculum will take effect this fall.
The seminary will continue to offer its Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies, Master of Arts in Theological Studies and its Doctor of Ministry programs.
“We’re changing the way we do theological education,” Conniry said. “In addition to adding new degrees and new concentrations, we’re adding flexibility in how students take courses, in many cases allowing them to choose between online or face-to-face instruction.”
One thing won’t change, Conniry said: The school’s commitment to “being Christ-centered, Biblically based and broadly evangelical.” The seminary’s purpose, he added, “is to develop leaders and scholars to have a transformative and prophetic influence for Jesus Christ in the church and the world.”
The name change comes a little more than 20 years after the seminary’s last name change, when what was then Western Evangelical Seminary merged with George Fox in 1996. That merger led to more than one name change, as George Fox College became George Fox University.
The seminary programs are offered at George Fox’s Portland Center, 12753 S.W. 68th Ave., in Tigard More information on the seminary and its programs are available at seminary.georgefox.edu or by phoning Ty Sohlman, admissions counselor, at 503-554-6122.