John W. VestVisiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism
Department: Practical Theology
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Department: Practical Theology
McCormick Theological Seminary, D.Min.
University of Chicago Divinity School, M.Div.
Rice University, B.A.
A message from Dr. Brian Blount, President of Union Presbyterian Seminary, to the seminary community:
I am delighted to share with you the exciting and wonderful news that Union Presbyterian Seminary has called the Rev. John W. Vest to be Visiting Assistant Professor of Evangelism. As many of you know, the faculty recently revised the seminary’s curriculum in order to ensure that the education of Union students matches the needs of the church in this critical time in the church’s history. Among other changes, the faculty devised a “Church In The World” curricular component. As a part of this new curricular endeavor, students are required to do course work or supervised ministry in three vital areas: evangelism; interfaith study; community engagement. We therefore need a professor who can teach evangelism and, while doing so, make use of the many tools of church, technology, and media, particularly social media, available. We found that professor in John Vest. In partnership with the Presbytery of the James, we will soon add to our resource base an experienced pastor who will be able to equip our students to share the message of the gospel broadly, and quite particularly to the youngest generations.
Let me quote John himself as he describes his new position to his current church, Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago. “This position at Union Seminary was not at all on my radar prior to being contacted about it several months ago, but the more I learned about it the more I felt called to a rare and unique leadership and learning opportunity. My work will involve the fields of evangelism, church growth and vitality, new church development, and ministry among emerging generations. In addition to teaching, I will coordinate student internships in these areas and work closely with the Presbytery of the James to explore new models of missional evangelism. I will also have the opportunity to host conferences and engage leaders around the country as our wider church reimagines what ministry looks like in the twenty-first century. In so many ways this will be a direct continuation of the work I have done in youth ministry here at Fourth Church, my recent doctoral work at McCormick Theological Seminary, my leadership in the Presbytery of Chicago, my engagement in the wider denomination, and the crazy ideas I explore on my blog.”
John received a BA in Religious Studies and Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations from Rice University; an M.Div. from the University of Chicago Divinity School; and a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He has also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and fulfilled all the Ph.D. coursework requirements in Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has served as pastoral intern and pastoral associate at the Community Presbyterian Church, Clarendon Hills, IL, and associate pastor for youth ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church since 2006. He was the moderator of the Presbytery of Chicago for 2014 and, as you might imagine, has served on or moderated many Presbytery committees and task forces. He has also served as commissioner to both the 219th and the 221st General Assemblies. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, the Presbyterian Youth Workers’ Association, and the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators. His ministry presentations, academic presentations, and publications are numerous and give every indication that he will spark imagination and creativity in his students.
John has had a significant impact in the life of Fourth Church, Chicago. One gets that sense not only in his own words that he shared with the congregation upon announcing his move to Union, but also from the Rev. Shannon Kershner, senior pastor of Fourth, and trustee of Union Presbyterian Seminary. So that you have a sense of that impact in their words, I share with you this link to the letter that they shared recently with the Fourth congregation: http://www.fourthchurch.org/news/vest-departure.html
This is an exciting day for Union. In a time when the church needs to tell its story and tell in well, the Union faculty will now have a very gifted and experienced professor who can equip our students in the vital task of evangelism and church revitalization. We await his arrival this summer with great anticipation and excitement. Please join me in welcoming him to our community.