Fort Mill Times

News from the seminary

Intensive courses to begin

STEELE CREEK -- Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary will offer 23 one-week intensive courses this summer throughout its campuses in Charlotte, South Hamilton and Boston.

Courses cover a broad range of Biblical and theological disciplines, from Old and New Testament, pastoral counseling and contemporary theology, to church planting, Christian leadership and sexual ethics. A new Master of Christian Leadership degree also will be launched at the Charlotte campus in January 2010 that enables students to take three intensives per year and complete the degree in three years.

"In today's difficult economy, intensives are ideal for individuals who know they're called to ministry, but can't leave their jobs or can't afford to go to seminary full-time at the moment," said Dr. Timothy Laniak, acting academic dean of Gordon-Conwell-Charlotte. "It's a great way to begin a degree program.

"Students can also combine these courses with many distance learning options through our Semlink program," he said. "M.Div. students, for example, can get a jump on requirements such as Greek and Hebrew I and II and Old and New Testament Surveys before enrolling full or part time. Students can essentially be working toward a degree from anywhere in the country."

From its inception, the Steele Creek campus has offered a flexible, adult learning model. Most classes are taught on weekends, supplemented by periodic one- and two-week intensives throughout the year.

"We've had students from as far away as California and Canada earn degrees here," Laniak said. "They were in full-time ministry and knew they needed a theological education, but didn't want to leave their ministry positions for three or four years. Instead, they designed a degree program that included weekend classes at this campus and intensives at both our Charlotte and South Hamilton campuses.

"Seminary Admissions representatives have long recognized that in difficult financial periods, people tend to rethink their purpose in life. When they know they're called to ministry, they often will use those times to secure the needed theological education. The many additional intensives we're offering this summer could help them take the first step toward responding to that call."

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Gordon-Conwell in Charlotte names dean

STEELE CREEK -- Timothy S. Laniak, Th.D., has been named dean of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Charlotte campus effective immediately.

Laniak, who also is professor of Old Testament, mentor for the Christian Leadership Doctor of Ministry Track and coordinator of the Urban Ministry Program, has served as acting academic dean since August 2008, and as a professor since 1997.

An ordained minister, he and his wife, Maureen, have ministered cross-culturally in more than 15 countries. Prior to joining the seminary, he was on the management staff of an elderly Jewish community residence in Boston, and director of Boston's International Fellowship House, serving students and scholars from more than 60 nationalities.

He studied at the American Institute for Holy Land Studies in Israel, earned an M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell, pursued further graduate studies at Brandeis University and received a Th.D. in Old Testament and Early Judaism from Harvard Divinity School. From 2003 to 2004, he was the annual professor at the William F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Israel, where he conducted research on shepherd leadership. In conjunction with those studies, he spent significant time interviewing Bedouin shepherds.

Laniak frequently speaks to groups about the historical and religious dynamics of the Middle East, and occasionally takes educational and experiential tours to the region. He also maintains a ministry to help Christians think biblically about leadership (see

He is the author of five books, including "Guide for Hebrew Exegesis: A Step-by-Step Approach;" "While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks;" "Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible;" a commentary on the book of Esther; and "Shame and Honor in the Book of Esther." His forthcoming book is "Images of God and the People of God."

Laniak is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature,Institute of Biblical Research and Biblical Archaeological Society.

The Laniaks co-founded Life Long Learning, a nonprofit organization that offered non-traditional educational opportunities, and Union Academy, a charter school emphasizing character education and community service. Now a school of 1,000 students, UA is graduating its first 12th grade class this year.

Tim and Maureen live with their three children in Weddington, N.C.