Theology & Philosophy Newsletter
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A Message from Department Chair Keith Beebe
May 2009

The Whitworth University Theology Department is grateful to God for His goodness to us, and for the blessing of serving in this corner of His vineyard. It is wonderful to work with such terrific students and colleagues, and to behold the work of God in their lives. I am glad to be able to share some of the highlights of our year with you.
The most obvious change to our departmental "face" is the relocation of the theology faculty offices to Westminster Hall, in January. Inhabiting a newly excavated and remodeled section of the building, we have dubbed our new digs "The Catacombs" and are in the process of installing artwork representing a variety of historic religious themes.

After a period of discernment and discussions, the theology and philosophy department made a decision to form separate departmental identities. We have always enjoyed our joint departmental relationship, and the decision was not made lightly or without a considerable degree of sadness. A number of factors went into this decision, including the relocation of the theology faculty to Westminster Hall and departmental growth issues. As much as we have loved working together, this organizational separation is a good and logical step that will strengthen both departments for more fruitful ministry.

With the departmental relocation and separation has come a reassignment of our support personnel. After several years of outstanding service to the combined theology, philosophy, chaplain services and WIM programs, Toni Sutherland will now focus her energies solely in the direction of the chapel, WIM, and student life programs….and will be sorely missed by the theology folks! On the other hand, we are grateful for the expanded role that Debbie Stierwalt has played – and will continue to play – in providing excellent support to our newly relocated department during the academic year (Sept.-May).

Our new Master of Arts in Theology Program is off to a fantastic start! Thanks to the outstanding leadership of Jerry Sittser and Tim Dolan, as well as the work of the Whitworth Continuing Studies Office and theology faculty, the first 25-student cohort has completed its first year, with the next cohort ready to begin its cycle this May. I invite you to check out the M.A. in Theology section of the theology department website at to learn more about this exciting and innovative program that seeks to prepare students for lives of committed service to Christ Jesus and His church.

Our newest Theology faculty colleague, Karen Petersen Finch, joined us in fall 2008. Karen’s doctoral work at Gonzaga University focused on the role of epistemology in ecumenical relations (with a particular emphasis upon Roman-Catholic-Reformed dialogue from 1968-present) and utilized the theological method of Bernard Lonergan. Ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Karen adds wonderful pastoral gifts to her wide range of teaching and scholarly interests, and is serving our continuing studies, Core 150, and traditional programs very well.

Sadly, the end of the academic year will mean saying "goodbye and God bless" to two of our colleagues. Chad Carmichael, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of philosophy, has served us very well this past year during our philosophy faculty position search and will truly be missed by his colleagues and students. Assistant Professor of Theology and Core 300 Todd Cioffi, Ph.D., has recently accepted an exciting position at Calvin College's new Department of Church & Ministry Studies. We are sad to see Todd, Erinn and Sophia leave our Whitworth community, but are glad they will have immediate family nearby as they move to Grand Rapids, Mich.

As you can see, this has been a year of growth and change. We thank our Lord Jesus Christ for His gifts of grace and mercy during this transitional year.

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