Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them. I recently interviewed Mark Dalbey, president of Covenant Seminary.
Christina: Can you tell us a little of the history of Covenant Seminary?
Mark: Covenant Seminary was founded in 1956 and served as the denominational seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod until the RPCES joined with the PCA in 1982. From 1982 to the present we have served as the denominational seminary of the PCA. Throughout its history, the seminary has been committed to the inerrancy of the Bible, the Reformed faith as expressed in the Westminster Standards, and the Great Commission.
Christina: How does Covenant Seminary engage the broader St. Louis community?
Mark: Covenant Seminary has served St. Louis PCA churches as a training ground in providing many pastors, ministry staff leaders, and church planters in Missouri Presbytery. While our primary role has been to serve the PCA, our location in St. Louis has also been a training resource for other evangelical churches in the greater St. Louis area as well. This includes a growing relationship with churches of ethnic, socio-economic, and cultural diversity in our area.
Christina: How many students do you have currently? What percentage of them are in the PCA?
Mark: Our total number of students taking classes for credit in the school year that ended June 30, 2019 was 675. Approximately 2/3 of those students are in the PCA.
Christina: What are some of the unique challenges facing those who go into pastoral ministry in our post-Christian society?
Mark: Graduates from CTS entering ministry today must have a “missionary mindset” toward our own culture in the USA. General knowledge about the Bible, the Christian faith, and Judeo-Christian ethics is significantly diminished. This calls for pastors and ministry leaders who understand the Bible and theology more deeply than ever who at the same time love people well enough to winsomely engage them with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ without judging them for a starting point that is contrary to the gospel. We must prepare our graduates to be “in the world without being of the world”.
Christina: Can you tell us a bit about the City Ministry Initiative and the Francis Schaeffer Institute?
Mark: The Francis Schaeffer Institute was started 30 years ago with Jerram Barrs as the FSI scholar. It has a major impact on our students through courses, conferences, and activities focused on apologetics and outreach, evangelism, and cultural engagement that is full of gospel grace and truth. The City Ministry Initiative seeks to learn from evangelical churches and ministry leaders in St. Louis, provide formational field education opportunities for our students, and make an impact in St. Louis as we co-labor with those God is working through in our city.
Christina: Are there any recent works from Covenant professors you’d like to highlight for us?
- The Politics of Ministry: Navigating Power Dynamics and Negotiating Interests by Tasha Chapman, Donald Guthrie, and Robert Burns (IVP, 2019)
- Reading Genesis Well: Navigating History, Poetry, Science, and Truth in Genesis 1–11 by C. John Collins (Zondervan, 2018)
- Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation by Dan Doriani (P&R, 2019)
- The Symphony of Mission: Playing Your Part in God’s Orchestra by Michael Goheen and Jim Mullins (Baker, 2019)
- Finding a Pastor: A Handbook for Ministerial Search Committees by Joel Hathaway (CDM/Covenant Seminary, 2018)
- The Letters to Timothy and Titus by Robert Yarbrough in the Pillar New Testament Commentary (Eerdmans, 2018)
Christina: Since the enCourage blog is for the women of the PCA, what does Covenant Seminary offer in terms of programs for women who either want to deepen their knowledge of Scripture or want to pursue a degree?
Mark: About 1/3 of our students across all of our degrees are women. New student enrollment this fall shows what appears to be our highest ever number of first year female students at CTS and the most ever in our non-ordination track Masters of Divinity program. We have a strong counseling program and a strong Master of Arts in Ministry designed to equip church staff positions in our churches. We have a number of online options for those who want to strengthen their biblical and theological knowledge to be more impactful in their service in the church
Christina: How can the women of the PCA pray for and support the work of Covenant Seminary?
Mark: We are very appreciative of the women of the PCA who been faithful prayer warriors for CTS over the years. We would love for the women of the church to encourage prospective students to consider CTS, to advocate for their churches to include us in their denominational giving to committees and agencies, and to include us in regular prayer opportunities in the life of their churches. Pray for God’s favor in student recruitment, donor giving, recruitment of new faculty over the next several years as long-term faithful faculty members retire, the formational impact of our female faculty and staff on our students, and ongoing faithfulness to the Bible, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission.
CTS appreciates the ministry of CDM and its staff and the increasing impact of the women of the PCA.
About the Author:
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including TGC, Revive Our Hearts, Desiring God, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. She is the content editor for enCourage and the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament , Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish, Idols of a Mother’s Heart and Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms. Christina serves on the advisory board at Covenant College and is on the national women’s ministry team as Regional Adviser of the Southeast. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.