Urbana Theological Seminary

January 16, 2015


Filed under: Course Preview — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 6:02 pm

Spring Semester 2015 is drawing near! Classes begin next week. In this week’s blog, learn why you want to take a specific class we are offering this semester: The Book of Exodus, taught by Dr. Ken Cuffey. Dr. Cuffey explains:

In December Exodus (the movie) hit the theaters. Now you have a chance to study Exodus (the book!) to find out what really happened, and what it has to do with your life. And what an adventure this will be . . . who wouldn’t want to come along for this one? Why take a class about Exodus?

It’s dramatic and exciting.
• There’s a bush that burns but won’t burn up.
• A whole series of totally devastating plagues. Do you know their theological significance? They have a very pointed message.
• A mass escape from oppression.
• A Sea whose waters part and form a pathway to freedom for a large crowd of people.
• Finding food and drink out in the desert where no one expects to find it.
• An imposing mountain where a whole people have a direct encounter with God. And thunder and lightning, quaking ground, trumpet blast, thick clouds.
• Creation of a new nation.
• An amazing story of God’s forgiveness and grace. Yes, this is the Old Testament.
• God moving into the neighborhood, just down the street.

This adventure doesn’t leave you hanging. The book of Exodus picks up the story line from Genesis and fills in how God came through on the first of his promises from Genesis 12. How, you ask? Which promise is that? Does it still apply to me?

This book has such a colorful cast of characters: two lowly Hebrew midwives who best Pharaoh, an innovative Hebrew couple, Moses, the daughter of a king, Miriam, Aaron, a harsh oppressing Pharaoh, a stubborn and hard-hearted Pharaoh, chariots chasing, an army of Amalekites attacking, birds flying over, and so much more.

Exodus is part of God’s Word, so God uses it to speak to us. It’s an ancient book describing events more than 3000 years ago, but it still is relevant to our lives—today in 2015.

Exodus tells another part of the story leading to the coming of Messiah Jesus.

It’s available for us. You can read the book. You can even study the book—together with a class of other committed followers of Christ who love God and his Word.

What a great way to spend your Wednesday nights (6-9 PM) between the end of January and beginning of May!

For more information about the class or how to register for it for credit or to audit, call the Seminary office (217-365-9005) or check out the website (start with http://www.urbanaseminary.org/courses/spring )
We hope to see you in class!

December 15, 2014

Apologetics? Why Bother?

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This week’s blog entry is from Dr. Todd Daly:

Sally has been perusing the religion section at a local book shop, and has been intrigued by the books of a New Testament scholar who, while arguing that Jesus of Nazareth was a genuine historical figure, claims to Jesus’ divinity were not a part of the earliest teaching of Jesus as found in the gospels, but reflect mythological accretions of the early church. As a result, she’s no longer so sure that we can know anything of what Jesus said, much less what Jesus did.

Ronald is increasingly disturbed by the constant reports of violence around the globe—whether between ISIS and more moderate followers of Islam, between Christians, Jews, and Muslims over holy sites and relics, numerous incidences of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and pastors against innocent children, or fundamentalist Christians bombing abortion clinics. In the face of such atrocities, he now accepts the claims of the “new atheists,” who argue that the world would be a more peaceful place if we did away with religion, quite convincing. Not only does Ronald have no need for religion, he believes that it is down right toxic for anyone’s moral development.

Carol has been seriously thinking about becoming a Christian, but believes that her career as thinks an evolutionary biologist precludes her from embracing the Christian faith, especially since Genesis teaches that God created the earth in six days.

Frank is a devout Christian who regularly interacts with agnostics at his job. He’s had the opportunity to argue for God’s existence over the past several years, but hasn’t really gotten anywhere with his arguments. He’s beginning to wonder what good—if any—can come from defending the beliefs of Christianity by appealing to certain features of nature, or by asking where we have come from, or by engaging in philosophical arguments that always seem to end up in a stand off.

The concerns of Sally, Ronald, Carol, and Frank have a common thread: they deal with the discipline of Christian apologetics—a defense of the core claims of Christianity in the face of doubt, skepticism, and unbelief. How should we respond to their concerns? To be sure, while there are no air-tight arguments that readily elicit faithful ascent to the claims of Christianity, we are called to provide a defense—an apologia—for the hope that lies within us (1 Pet. 3:15). This Spring I’ll be offering a course that will address the issues shared above here, and several more. If you struggled in how to respond to Sally, Ronald, Carol, or Frank, you’re not alone, and you’re invited to join us as we consider how to best communicate the truthfulness of the Christian faith while remaining sensitive to both the reality of doubt, the limits to logic, and necessity of faith.

(This class will be offered in a modular system, meeting four times, one weekend a month, throughout the semester. It can be taken for three credits or audited)

December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday

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Happy Giving Tuesday! The idea behind this day is that so many have shopped for presents avidly on Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday. Now, Giving Tuesday is a chance to give a gift that will make a tangible difference in the lives of others outside of your usual Christmas circles.

In particular, consider making a gift that will have significant impact in 2015 and the years ahead: a donation to Urbana Theological Seminary. God has given us at this seminary the privilege of investing in the lives of these amazing people, our students, who will give back so much in years to come as they lead and serve the church. Yes, it’s the resources they garner in classes, the skills and knowledge for the challenges ahead. It’s also the relationships formed, the friendships and the mentoring. And we get to see God actively at work in and through our students today and tomorrow.

Thank you for considering this, and for your generosity!
Ken Cuffey

P. S. If you would like to make a donation to Urbana Seminary through our secure paypal site, click here: http://www.urbanaseminary.org/giving-uts/donate

November 17, 2014

First Bourbonnais class

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This coming spring, UTS is excited to be offering its first class that will be held in Buurbonnais, IL. Dr. Mike McQueen explains what the class is and why it is so important:

When I did my M.Div. back in the late 70’s, missions was not on my radar at all. My seminary course work with missions was required or I would have skipped it. And when did take it, it was like taking medicine, or eating vegetables – I did it because I was told it was good for me. And like my undergraduate experience with physics and calculus, I promptly forgot it when I finished the class. In the late 1990’s I was asked to teach a lesson for the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course locally, a program with which I was not previously acquainted. Launched in the summer of 1974 by the US Center for World Missions in Pasadena, CA, it was designed to make an understanding of missions accessible to all Christians. (By 2013 more than 80,000 people had gone through the program!) I was intrigued and ended up taking the course the next year myself. By the time I finished the course I was so pumped that I was convinced this material should be part of basic discipleship for every Christian. And from that point on I decided that Perspectives would become the foundation for missions at Urbana Seminary.
PM 554, The World Christian Movement is not just an introduction to missions though. Yes, it’s a survey of the global cause of Christ. Yes, we do some academic study, exploring the biblical, theological and historical foundations for missions. But our approach is to first seek to understand God’s heart for the nations from the very beginning. We seek to comprehend our faith as a manifestation of the Kingdom of God and how that should provide the impetus for the expansion of Christianity. We look at how the church has both succeeded and failed throughout history. We study how the Gospel takes root in culture. We examine the spiritual and cultural forces arrayed against it. We are presented with the global needs and challenges that face the extension of God’s rule and reign. And we seek to help students recognize that global issues have local applications, and prayerfully prepare them for life-long radical discipleship that may be in their hometown, or anywhere around the world in which the Lord may lead.
The class includes lecture, but because Socrates was my teacher, we do a lot of learning by discussion. We spend time in worship and prayer. We’ll see a Star Trek episode, and watch how a missionary leads an entire Iryan Jayan village to Jesus. We’ll use an occasional guest speaker to provide a different perspective on missions. I try to keep the work-load in the realm of the sane so the class does not become a burden. But it does require you to come prepared. This is one of my two favorite classes to teach, so come and join us!

October 23, 2014

Student-Led Worship Service

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On Sunday, November 2, from 6:00-8:00, there will be a student-led worship service and dinner. One of the students who is organizing this service explains:

I am Keith Bufford, a student at UTS. One facet I have come to enjoy at the seminary is getting the opportunity to talk with my fellow students about their classes and reading and discussing their research with them.
A few months ago I had one such meeting with my friend and colleague Ray Lu—little did I know that our meeting would lead me on a great and wonderful adventure into ministry. Words of advice: if you are content with a peaceful, uneventful life, beware of wizards who come knocking for a visit.
Ray had been doing research for an independent study on worship. His research turned up a point of interest for him and me. Ray had discovered that early on in church history, the first hundred years or so before the Eucharist had been institutionalized in the way we know it, it was celebrated as part of a meal known as a love feast, or table fellowship. Ray had also turned up another piece of attention-grabbing information about the Jewish meal time protocol: the host of the meal would start with the breaking of the bread and end the meal with a cup of wine, we see our Lord doing just that at the last supper.
Ray thought it would be interesting to celebrate communion in just that way. But wondered how it could be done. Hours of endless dialogue followed, until we decided to put our money where our month was. We planned a service where table fellowship could be celebrated. Next we pitched it to Drs. Cuffey, Thomas, and Green with the idea of a student-lead worship service for the fall semester. To our delight the idea was met with the approval of the three. So we set the date November 2nd 2014, and we are inviting the entire UTS community.
What should you expect when you come to the service? A time of worship with prayer, scripture reading, a sermon, and worshipful music. The worship service will continue into a dinner. We will begin our meal with the breaking of the bread as was done in the past, and as it is the broken body of Christ that has brought us all together. We will continue with a meal of chili made by volunteers. Our fall worship service will conclude with the cup of Christ, as it is in the cup we go our separate ways free from our sin, with our eyes set on the glorious future Christ has promised us. I hope to see you all there so we may share Christ together! If you are interested in joining us, please RSVP to Dr. Green mgreen@urbanaseminary.org

October 3, 2014

The Pastor’s Identity in Christ

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In this week’s blog, Dr. Robert Smart, who will be the speaker at the upcoming Provisions for Pastors event, explains what the event will be about:

Our identity, besides being one of the most precious things to prevent from theft, crisis, or loss, is extremely important to God. The Father has given His children an identity in Christ that will
shape us on our journey to heaven. If in the process of identity formation we ignore what God says concerning our identity, then we may expect confusion in ministry formation and perseverance.

Just after birth, a child is given an identity. Identity formation, however, is a longer process. When Jesus Christ was approximately thirty years of age the Father spoke of His identity at His baptism just before entering fully into vocational ministry. In the same way, identity in Christ ought to precede and support our calling to Christ. It is in this important sense of identity that Satan challenges each of us, as he did our Lord. The devil’s first attacks on our Lord were aimed at His identity: “If you are the Son of God.” For once we embrace the lies about who we are, our performance in ministry will be hindered.

The evil trinity—the world, the flesh, and the devil—is seeking to kill and destroy us in each season of spiritual formation. In the spring they confuse our identity, in the summer our calling, in the autumn our intentionality, and in the winter our legacy. The world escorts us to the pit; the flesh entices us to fall in; and the devil pushes us over the edge. “The pit,” as it were, represents a dark and slimy collection of lies, condemning thoughts, and foolish strategies designed to confuse and distort our identity formation.

This seminar is designed to promote spiritual formation among pastors and leaders in ministry contexts, where we are vulnerable to terrible thoughts and tempted to quit the race. It is meant to encourage us to finish well and echo Paul’s word to Timothy: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of a Gospel minister, and fulfill all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).

The Seminar will be held on October 20 at Stone Creek church from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The $20 registration fee covers lunch and materials. To register, go to http://www.urbanaseminary.org/events/
Join us!

September 26, 2014

upcoming events

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Now that the semester is underway, we would like for you to know about a few upcoming events:

Provisions for Pastors series: on October 20th, Dr. Robert Smart from Christ Church in Normal, IL will be presenting a day long workshop called “The Pastor’s Identity in Christ: The Key to Keeping Your Head and Persevering in Ministry.” It will be held at Stone Creek Church, and will run from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Cost: $20. Registration information will be available soon.

C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, on Stage: On November 15, Urbana Seminary will be taking a group to Indianapolis to see a stage production of this C. S. Lewis story. Tickets are $29. If you are interested, contact mgreen@urbanaseminary.org for more information.

November 2: Worship Service and dinner. At 6:00, we will be having a worship service led and organized by Urbana Seminary students. The worship service will be followed by a free meal and a communion service. The worship service and meal will take place at University Baptist Church.

August 29, 2014

First week of fall semester

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With the first week of the new semester underway, we decided to ask a couple of students what they thought of their first week. Susan Hinesly a long time auditor, and Bethany Ross, a new Graduate Certificate student, both gave some thoughtful feedback:

When asked, Susan wanted to reflect on her experience here at Urbana Seminary as a whole: “Fall 2014 I begin my 21st UTS class as a perpetual audit student. These classes help reach a deep spot within my soul that only God can fill. I love the thought- provoking classes, the enthusiastic and caring instructors, and the wonderful students of all ages, backgrounds and experiences. UTS helps all of us Glorify God on our life journey though study, prayer and revelation as revealed through the holy scriptures. UTS is truly a blessing, one that we can all share in and grow from regardless of our expected purposes. Praise God!”

Bethany Ross expressed her delight with the first session of the class she is taking: “I was impressed with Dr. Cuffey’s thoughtful arrangement of the Old Testament Survey course. He has designed a comprehensive course, yet full of choices that appeal to many different learning styles. Information is being presented in such a way that visual, auditory, and tactile learners can find ways to connect in a personal way with the material and flourish in the class.”

August 11, 2014

Back to school: class spotlight

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:20 pm

It is hard to believe it is mid-August already! In just a couple of weeks, Urbana Seminary’s fall classes will begin. With that in mind, we have asked three of our professors to say something about a class they are offering this semester:

First, Dr. Mike McQueen explains his favorite class: “Ministry and Evangelism in Cultural Context (MECC) is the class I most like to teach for two reasons. First its content is designed to help students think through ministry in the real, changing and frustrating world in which we find ourselves. Truth meets postmodernism, not only in the context of daily witness, worship, preaching and counseling, but also in work, entertainment, sex, and politics. Second this class is primarily oriented toward discussion. Not just readings, but also TV, movies, songs and jokes provide the basis for critique of both culture and church. This course is by far the most popular among students of the courses I teach.”

Second, Dr. Kenneth Cuffey explains why everyone should take a perennially popular class: “There’s Adam and Eve, there’s Abraham and Moses. Don’t forget David, Solomon, and Isaiah. Abraham lived in tents and lied about his wife. Moses talked to bushes, went through the Red Sea, and got the law from God. David killed Goliath, along with lots of others, and got a crown. Solomon was one wise fellow, but overwhelmed by too many wives (as in 1000). Isaiah spoke for God. So the Old Testament is a long string of exciting stories, right? All having nothing to do with each other? Not so! No way! The Old Testament tells a story. It fits together, it flows along, it starts in the beginning and goes somewhere. What? How? Old Testament Survey is designed to be a life-changing experience, as you get a feel for the glue that connects the seemingly separate stories of the OT one with the other. Do you know where God is heading in the story of the Old Testament? Do you know what that story has to do with you in 2014 in Illinois? Old Testament Survey is a great place to discover–about God, about how to read the Bible, and about what holds it all together. Solid. Thought-provoking. Down to earth and practical for now.”

Finally, we are introducing an exciting new class this semester:

Pilgrimage: A Prominent Theme in Celtic Christian Spirituality
Peter D. Spychalla, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of New Testament & Spiritual Formation

Peregrinatio, or pilgrimage, is an important biblical theme expressed prominently and creatively in the piety of Christians through the centuries living in Celtic lands—modern-day Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany. In the New Testament, believers are exiles (1 Peter 1:1) whose true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). They seek their true heavenly homeland (Hebrews 11:13–16), following their Lord and Savior, Jesus, who had no earthly place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20). Celtic believers sought to be “pilgrims for Christ”—some sailing away to new lands for God’s purposes while others separated themselves from earthly distractions in radical devotion to Christ. Celtic hagiography recounts missionary endeavors and fantastical seafaring voyages of Saint Patrick, Saint Columba, Saint Columbanus, Saint Brendan the Navigator, Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne, and others. The motif of the spiritual life as a journey with the Trinity as one’s companion is woven like a Celtic knot throughout hymns, songs, and poems found in Celtic Christian tradition. As an Irish hymn expresses, “Alone with none but Thee, my God, I journey on my way; what need I fear, when Thou are near, O King of night and day?”
We invite you to join this pilgrimage with us this fall at Urbana Theological Seminary as we study this theme and others in the course “Celtic Christian Spirituality.”

These three classes offer great adventures and learning experiences this fall that you will not want to miss out on!

April 12, 2014

Founders Day 2014

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Every Spring Urbana Seminary observes Founders Day.  For 2014 it’s today, April 12th!


What is Founders Day and why do we observe it?  It’s a day to commemorate the hand of God in our founding as a school, to remember the people who made sacrifices and gave gifts, who prayed and created and worked.  Founders Day is a time to say thank you to all who have helped and played a part, to register our gratitude to God for his hand overseeing the creation of a new ministry here.


Urbana Seminary was founded in 2002.  In 12 years so much has happened.

  • The decision to seek stand alone status as a school
  • The pledge of a significant gift that enabled the Seminary to launch (April 26, 2002)
  • The gathering of a core of people with a heart for the work who began the process of designing a curriculum, teaching and serving students, and applying for state approvals.
  • Dedication of the new suite of offices at 314 E Daniel (April, 2004)
  • Granting of Operating Authority by theIllinoisBoard of Higher Education (April 5, 2005)
  • First graduation of two Certificate students (May, 2005)
  • Granting of Degree Granting Authority by the IL Board of Higher Education (December 4, 2007)
  • Launching of the first Founders Fund campaign (April, 2011)
  • Launching of the 10th anniversary celebration year (April, 2012)


Praise God!  We celebrate his guidance and involvement in all that has happened.  You’ll notice that in the selection of events listed above there are a number that occurred in April, hence our choosing April each year for Founders Day.  And much more—each successive year another graduation (2014 is our 10th annual!); other significant donations that have ministered to our students and staff; a growing library; beginnings of accreditation processes; additions to the faculty and student services staff; a succession of students who have come to study and grow and get equipped.


This is a kingdom ministry to train God’s servants for His glory.

Unless the LORD build the house,

The builders labor in vain. 

Psalm 127:1a

If God’s not in it, it won’t get anywhere.  But if God is in it, He will prevail and work His purposes through our human efforts.  Looking back it seems clear that God has been in this!


Three follow-throughs to mark Founders Day 2014:

  • I encourage you to join me to praise God that he has established a seminary in such a strategic location for the kingdom and to represent Christ.  And look forward with real anticipation to what He will yet do through Urbana Seminary—pray for us for the future and God’s continued provision and direction.
  • Come to graduation this year.  It’s May 23rd, 6:00 PM, at the Chapel of St John the Divine Episcopal Church, near the university campus.  And you’re invited!  Instead of hosting a separate Founders Day event this year we would love to have our community supporters and friends come to see and hear from those who take their training and go out to serve the Lord.
  • On the Founders theme, remember the Founders Fund Campaign.  You will receive more info about this in the near future.  To have a growing circle of financial supporters is essential for the Seminary to move forward into the future to the glory of God.  We cannot do it without you.  This is an urgent ministry.  A huge thanks to those who already give.  And an encouragement to those who don’t yet to consider 2014 as the year you begin to give regularly to the Seminary’s ministry.


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