Guest Author: Melody McSparran
As the college football season gets underway, it is the time of year when many proclaim their zeal for their beloved alma mater. Winning or losing, we all hold a deep attachment to the schools that have shaped us during pivotal times of our lives. But there may be an educational institution you have never attended and may not even think about that has deeply impacted you.
All of the Christ Community pastoral residents and many of our pastors have received their theological training from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS,) and therefore, those of us who sit in the worship centers of Christ Community and hear their sermons have also been significantly shaped by this institution.
In my 26 years at Christ Community, I know my life has been profoundly shaped by the faithful teaching of Scripture by our pastors, but it wasn’t until I became a TEDS student and more recently a board member, that I began to appreciate the deep connection of our church with this seminary.
What is so special about TEDS and why do we hold it closely as a partner in the mission of our church? Ken Kantzer, a strategic leader who spearheaded the founding of TEDS in 1963, proclaimed that Trinity was the Evangelical Free Church of America’s “love gift” to the local and global church.
The roots of the school date to the late 1800’s when Scandinavian Christians immigrated to the American Midwest. They established “free” churches, meaning churches who were independent from government control, deeply committed to proclaiming the gospel, to Bible exposition and ongoing missionary efforts. The Scandinavians began to set up their own schools for pastoral training and eventually merged them in 1946 to form Trinity Seminary and Bible College on Chicago’s north side. Eventually the campus resettled in Bannockburn, a north Chicago suburb, where TEDS resides today.
By the 1960s, many seminaries had abandoned their evangelical commitments or were lacking the academic rigor needed to respond to the challenges of secular academia and a changing culture. Ken Kantzer believed that graduate level seminaries who were committed to Christian orthodoxy were crucial to shaping future pastors, who in turn, would provide their congregants with a biblical worldview and fortify the church to effectively address the culture. So they set out to hire some of the best biblical scholars in the world.
This blueprint for the future, created by TEDS early leaders, transformed the small denominational school into a major academic institution, serving the broader evangelical world. One of the early draws for students to TEDS that continues today, is that it hires professors from different evangelical backgrounds and traditions, and encourages robust debate and transformational learning.
Christ Community is blessed to be partnered with this amazing institution. And while it may not have a winning football team, we certainly have many reasons to be thankful for TEDS and the impact it has made on all of us!