NATIVE NORTH AMERICAN INSTITUTE FORMS HISTORIC PARTNERSHIP WITH NATIONALLY RENOWNED UNIVERSITY AND SEMINARY TO CREATE A NEW THEOLOGICAL DEGREE PROGRAM
NEWS RELEASE – Newberg, OR
OREGON, June 12, 2010 — An historic agreement was entered into on June 12, 2010 between the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) and George Fox Evangelical Seminary at Newberg, OR. The agreement marks the beginning of a new type of partnership and is the realization of a long-standing hope for a new way to provide theological education for Native North Americans.
“The partnership created with this agreement will focus on the delivery of Theological education for Native North Americans and other indigenous peoples using instructional approaches and materials developed by NAIITS,” said Terry LeBlanc, founding chair, now Executive Director of NAIITS. The first offering in the new partnership will be an MA specializing in intercultural studies that is slated to begin January 2011. LeBlanc, a Mi’kmaq from Canada, made it clear that the program features several innovative approaches to theological education and leadership development stating, “the program is deeply rooted in Native thought and concerns.”
The courses will be written, directed and taught by an outstanding faculty of national Native scholars. Each course will incorporate Native worldview and values. The entire program is built around an andragogical approach that allows adult students to exercise greater creativity and flexibility as they learn in unique cultural and social contexts. “Finally, there is a program of study that is uniquely designed for us,” observed one student considering her enrollment. “It’s just brilliant!”
Randy Woodley, Distinguished Associate Professor of Faith and Culture and Director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at George Fox, pointed out that, “Since its inception ten years ago, NAIITS has delivered seven symposiums on theology and mission, published six journals and facilitated opportunities for graduate and post-graduate study for a number of Native students in partnerships with various seminaries.” As a NAIITS board member, Woodley will serve as a liaison between the two organizations. Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee, says that there is a lot of excitement about this partnership, with both parties having prayerfully undertaken their roles in light of several centuries of misunderstanding and broken treaties between our two communities.”
Responding to the question of NAIITS’ purpose, Richard Twiss, Lakota and Vice-Chairman of the NAIITS Board of Directors observed, “Our vision for NAIITS has been to see Native men and women journey down the road of a living heart relationship with Jesus Christ in a transformative way – one which does not require the rejection of their God-given social and cultural identity.”
“This partnership will enable the seminary to extend its reach to people for whom theological education would otherwise not be an option,” said Chuck Conniry, Vice President and Dean of George Fox Evangelical Seminary. “Our relationship with NAIITS promises to enrich the culture of our institution and make us all better teachers and scholars.”
Echoing Twiss, Ray Aldred, Cree professor of Theology in Calgary, Alberta, Canada incoming Chair of the NAIITS board, enthusiastically pointed out “Since our first symposium ten years ago we have hoped that something like this might emerge.” “This is the first time a distinguished group of Native North American men and women scholars – who are also ministry practitioners – have created such an innovative approach to theological education!”
Student applications for the new MA program will be available upon final approvals with links on both websites (http://www.georgefox.edu/admission/index.html and http://www.naiits.com). For more information about this new degree offering, contact Anita Keith, NAIITS coordinator, at Suite 428, 35 – 2855 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg MB R3T 2H5 (email@example.com, http://www.naiits.com) or Terry LeBlanc, Executive Director, North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (firstname.lastname@example.org).
George Fox Evangelical Seminary offers a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree in leadership and spiritual formation, global missional leadership, and semiotics and future studies. Also offered is a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Arts degrees in theological studies, spiritual formation and ministry leadership. Students also may earn a certificate in spiritual formation and discipleship.