The mandate of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, for the last decade and a half, has been to train leaders for tough places. In most cases, the fulfillment of this mandate is most clearly seen in our school’s practical ministry training, which prepares pastors, church planters, missionaries, and other ministry leaders to serve both in North America and overseas. Throughout our school’s history, however, the high quality of its academic training has also been highlighted, and never more so than in the last 15 years.
CSBS does not promote itself as a preparatory institution for academic doctoral studies. However, of 234 total master’s-level graduates from the seminary’s first class until now, 16 have either graduated with PhDs (including one Doctor of Education degree) or are currently enrolled in PhD programs. All of these students completed Master of Divinity degrees at CSBS, comprising just over 10% of total MDiv graduates. However, 14 of these 16 students graduated from CSBS and enrolled in their respective PhD programs since 2007, representing over 18% of MDiv grads from the last 15 years. The following is a brief update on our graduates who have gone on to PhD studies, and on where God has taken them since their time at CSBS.
William Anderson – CSBS Class of 1992; PhD University of Glasgow 1997
Bill graduated with his Master of Divinity from CSBS in 1992. He then moved to Scotland to pursue a PhD in Old Testament at the University of Glasgow, writing his dissertation on the question of “Scepticism and Ironic Correlations in the Joy Statements of Qoheleth?” He completed his program in 1997 and, in 2005, accepted a position at Concordia University of Edmonton as Professor of Pop Culture and Religious Studies. He continues to teach at Concordia, and in 2018 had the opportunity to serve as Visiting Professor at the University of Pisa in Italy. He states that God has called him to “provide evangelistic and missionary substance in a Canadian context through intra-cultural missionary work,” expressed in his unique opportunity to juxtapose pop culture and biblical studies.
Christopher Black – CSBS Class of 1997; PhD New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 2010
Christopher is a Canadian Forces veteran who served from 1981-86. In 1994 he moved to Cochrane to pursue his Master of Divinity at CSBS, graduating in 1997. After helping a fellow CSBS grad plant a church in Victoria, BC, Christopher returned to CSBS in 2003 to upgrade his MDiv in order to enrol in a PhD program at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004. Despite Hurricane Katrina forcing him to temporarily evacuate New Orleans in 2005, Christopher earned his PhD in Systematic Theology in 2010, with a dissertation centred on Deuteronomy 6:4-6 as a model for the human constitution. After graduation, he taught at NOBTS until 2012, when he moved to Tennessee Temple University as Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian History and Director of Online Learning. He taught there until the school closed in 2014. Following God’s leading, Christopher moved to China in 2017 to teach English at the Henan University of Engineering. In January 2020, during a visit to Canada, Christopher’s life in China was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Both he and the university hope he can return soon!
Roger Boyer – CSBS Class of 2007; PhD Asbury Theological Seminary 2016
Roger graduated with his Master of Divinity from CSBS in 2007. He went on to complete a PhD in Intercultural Studies from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, graduating in 2016 with a dissertation entitled “An Exploration of the Relationship between Faith, Spirituality and Wellness among Anishinabek.” He has a passion for improving the well-being of First Nations people and is the founder and CEO of Makwa Wise, a wellness organization focused on holistic health. Roger lives in Ontario with his wife Stephanie.
Esther Cen – CSBS Class of 2008; PhD McMaster Divinity College 2021
Esther completed her Master of Divinity at CSBS in 2008. She moved to Hamilton, Ontario to pursue her PhD in Christian Theology, with a concentration in New Testament, at McMaster Divinity College. Esther graduated in 2021 after defending her dissertation on “Domination or Empowerment: A Critical Discourse Analysis of 1 and 2 Corinthians.” Even before officially graduating, she was hired by Seattle Pacific University as Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, where she currently teaches. She states that her “dream to empower students from underrepresented groups started at CSBS, where I observed and experienced how my professors empowered me.”
Mark Colebank – CSBS Class of 2008; EdD Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary 2017
Mark graduated from CSBS with his Master of Divinity in 2008. In 2017, he completed his Doctor of Education degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. His research was entitled “Obedience Oriented Discipleship: A Mixed Methods Study of Effective Discipleship Models in Select Southern Baptist Churches.” He is currently turning this dissertation research into a discipleship book entitled Lose to Win, examining disciple-making movement strategies to demonstrate how the Holy Spirit empowers believers to love, serve, and witness. He reflects, “I am thankful for both CSBS and SEBTS for helping me grow in my relationship with God and giving me training that is helping me be part of what God is doing in this movement of the Spirit.”
Brendan Youngberg – CSBS Class of 2009; PhD McMaster Divinity College 2019
Brendan graduated from CSBS with his Master of Divinity in 2009. In 2019 he completed his PhD in Christian Theology, with a concentration in Old Testament, from McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. His dissertation was entitled “The Death of Josiah: Cultural Trauma and Social Identity in the Book of Chronicles.” He states that “the balance of word and spirit that I received from the professors and community at CSBS has long been a source of great remembrance and hope for me as I look to see where God is leading and will lead into the future. The foundations I rest upon now are those founded most firmly during my time there and for that I am truly grateful.”
Michael Akinpelu – CSBS Class of 2010; PhD McGill University 2016
Michael completed his Master of Divinity at CSBS in 2010, after having previously earned a master’s degree in French linguistics at the University of Regina. In 2011 he enrolled in the PhD program at McGill University, and graduated with his PhD in Sociolinguistics in 2016. He was hired by the University of Regina almost immediately and continues to serve as Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Intercultural Studies.
Kelly Reid – CSBS Class of 2010; PhD The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 2020
Kelly graduated from CSBS with his Master of Divinity in 2010. He began his PhD in Missiology in January of 2013, and then took on the senior pastorate of Tapestry Church in August, located first in Calgary and later in Cochrane. Kelly graduated in 2020, after defending his dissertation on “Southern Baptist Convention Missions in Canada: An Indigenous Missiology for a Convention in a Near-Culture Country.” He continues to pastor full time in Cochrane, where he lives with his wife Brooke and their three children.
Caireen Likely – CSBS Class of 2011; PhD University of Aberdeen 2019
Caireen graduated with her Master of Divinity from CSBS in 2011. She moved to Scotland with her family in 2012 and started her PhD program in Theological Ethics at the University of Aberdeen in 2013. She was able to study part-time, thanks to dual Canadian-British citizenship, while simultaneously raising her three children with her husband Grant. Caireen graduated in 2019, after defending her dissertation entitled “‘Even to Your Old Age I Am He, and to Grey Hairs I Will Carry You’: Theological Anthropology, Phenomenology, and Ageing.” She continues to live in Aberdeen with her family and has recently started a coaching and consulting business. She notes that “pursuing a PhD, particularly in the context of the community at the University of Aberdeen, taught me to read generously – to credit the best intentions and give the most positive interpretation – and so, by extension, to assume the best of other followers of Jesus.”
Robert Booth – CSBS Class of 2015; PhD Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary 2021
Robbie graduated from CSBS with his Master of Divinity in 2015, including a thesis on the New Testament’s use of Isaiah 6:9-10. In January of 2017, he began PhD studies in New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He graduated in 2021 after defending his dissertation on “First Jerusalem, Then the Parousia: A Case for a Simple Preterist-Futurist Interpretation of Matthew 24-25.” He is currently applying to teaching positions from his home in North Carolina, where he lives with his wife Robyn and their two children. He will also be teaching a course on the Gospel of Matthew at CSBS&C in the fall of 2021.
Matthew Rowley – CSBS Class of 2015; PhD McMaster Divinity College 2020
Matthew completed his Master of Divinity at CSBS in 2015, including a thesis on the theological relationship between church and state. He began his PhD in Christian Theology, with a concentration in historical theology, at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario in 2016, and defended his dissertation entitled “Church and State in Upper Canada: John Strachan’s Political Theology and Practice” in 2020. He currently serves as the founder and president of the Canadian branch of Training Leaders International, a mission organization that sends trained ministry professionals overseas to teach and equip pastors and leaders. He also pastors a church in rural Alberta, where he lives with his wife Joanna and their seven children.
Emily Buck-Mendenhall – CSBS Class of 2016; PhD Fuller Theological Seminary 2021
Emily graduated from CSBS with her Master of Divinity in 2016. She enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California that fall, working towards a PhD in Theology with a concentration in church history. During her time at Fuller, she met and married her husband, Jeremy Mendenhall. She graduated in 2021 after defending her dissertation on “Remembering Rahab: The History of Interpreting the Profession, Deception, and Salvation of the Madam of Jericho.” She and Jeremy now both teach at a charter high school in Escondido, California.
Matthew Burks – CSBS Class of 2018; PhD New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (to be completed)
Matt graduated with his Master of Divinity from CSBS in 2018, including a thesis on perspectives on the new heaven and new earth. He then began his PhD studies in New Testament/Greek, with an emphasis in New Testament textual criticism, at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary that same fall. Matt is now conducting his dissertation research on “The Text of the Leicester Codex” and plans to graduate in the spring of 2022. He currently lives in New Orleans with his wife Alisha and their three children and plans to pursue teaching or another ministry position after graduation.
Tamara Mitton – CSBS Class of 2019; PhD McMaster Divinity College (to be completed)
Tamara completed her Master of Divinity at CSBS in 2019, including a thesis on the biblical kingdom of priests as God’s intention for humanity. She began PhD studies in Christian Theology, with a concentration in Old Testament, at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario in the fall of 2020. She is now entering her second year of seminars, while maintaining a significant online writing and Bible teaching ministry which she plans to continue for the foreseeable future.
John Baker – CSBS Class of 2020; PhD The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (to be completed)
John graduated with his Master of Divinity from CSBS in December of 2019, including a thesis on Elihu in Job as a positive introduction to divine wisdom. In January of 2020 he jumped straight into the PhD Old Testament program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently engaged in dissertation research under former CSBS faculty member Dr. Duane Garrett, on “The Prophecy Against Tyre in Ezekiel 26 as a Case Study for Interpreting Problematic Prophecy.” He hopes to graduate in 2023, after which he and his wife Blanca plan to serve in theological education in Latin America.
Alicia Hein – CSBS Class of 2020; PhD University of St Andrews (to be completed)
Alicia graduated with her Master of Divinity from CSBS in 2020, including a thesis on the significance of Elijah for biblical theology. She was accepted to the University of St Andrews in Scotland in the spring of 2020 and began her Old Testament PhD studies there that fall. She is currently partway through her dissertation on “The Prophet of Kings, the Messenger of Malachi, and the Forerunner of YHWH: A Literary-Historical Study of the Elijah Texts in Kings, Malachi, and the New Testament” and hopes to graduate in 2023. She also currently holds an adjunct faculty position at Clearwater College of Biblical Studies. She reflects that her time at CSBS “had a massive influence in shaping the current course of my life. It was there that I discovered my passion and calling to teach, under professors who poured into me both academically and personally. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, and I am so grateful for my time at CSBS.”
In reflection on the callings and accomplishments of these students, CSBS&C president Dr. Rob Blackaby reflects: “I am humbled by the role that God has given our school to train leaders for higher education in Canada, and elsewhere. These opportunities represent a strategic placement that provides our graduates the opportunity to influence the worldview of future leaders. Since the beginning of my role as president, I have hoped that our MDiv graduates would be catalysts in the field – that they would take the training they received from us and multiply its effectiveness as they trained others in their sphere of influence. Those who graduate with a PhD and go on to teach in the church and/or the academy are exemplars of this dream. The type of PhD graduates that come out of our school are not ivory-tower ideologues; they are field-ready marshals-in-arms, ready to mobilize, incentivize, and hearten present-day soldiers for service in God’s Kingdom.” We pray that God continues to use our graduates in His service as they continue to walk with Him.