And here's what I got to say about that ...
Thank you, Phoenix Seminary (and all its supporters). Thank you for letting God use you to be a premier resource for Christ's Church in Phoenix ... and beyond. I know the Holy Spirit used this experience to form me more into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). The most crucial thing I learned from my classes was this: how to develop a shepherd's heart. Without a doubt, the #1 piece I received from Phoenix Seminary was the importance of Christian leaders - especially pastors - maintaining the heart of a shepherd as they serve their congregations (1 Peter 5:1-4). And for that, I thank you.
Currently, I am an elder and pastor at a downtown church. We care a great deal about orphan care (James 1:27), the arts, and Christ-pointing community involvement. We also place a great emphasis on culturally relevant theology and Christian discipleship. I know my time at seminary has better prepared me to be involved with these ministries in an urban context. Phoenix Seminary has equipped me to better do what I am doing now - as well as to be better prepared for what God will have me do in the future.
I believe it is important to engage our current cultural crisis with a Gospel-saturated worldview – this is why I help host an apologetics radio show. I intend to devote more time to the show after I graduate. We interact with skeptics and critics in a bold and yet hopefully friendly way. I saw this humble yet committed attitude displayed by my professors, such as Dr. Wayne Grudem and Dr. John DelHousaye. Thank you.
I want to finish by thanking a former Phoenix Seminary enrollment counselor turned missionary - Hans Anderson – he first opened my eyes to the possibility of seminary. I want to thank my parents for encouraging me, my church leaders for assisting me, and especially for my wife for pushing me, helping me, and loving me all the way through this. I pray I am a good representative of a Phoenix Seminary graduate as I go forward from here.
Soli Deo Gloria!
John-Mark Rieser, Master of Arts in Biblical Leadership