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Jerry Sittser joins Office of Church Engagement as Senior Fellow, launches new Academy of Christian Discipleship

October 29, 2015
Jerry Sittser, professor of theology at Whitworth University, recently joined the Whitworth Office of Church Engagement (OCE) as part-time senior fellow. In addition to teaching part time, Sittser works with the OCE team to create, sustain, and cultivate a deeper relationship between Whitworth and the larger Christian movement on the West Coast. The OCE provides outreach and learning programs as a way to begin building those relationships in programs such as the Ekklesia Fellows Program, the Gospel Conference, the Whitworth Institute of Ministry, and, most recently, the Academy of Christian Discipleship.

“To be a disciple requires a lifelong apprenticeship to Jesus,” Sittser says. “The Academy of Christian Discipleship is designed to provide both instruction in and training for a life of discipleship. It is also designed to work in partnership with ministries and Christian organizations. In a sense, the academy is functioning as if it were a kind of staff member for churches, providing services that churches might not be able to offer on their own.”

 In October, two tracks of the academy were launched: the morning biblical-formation track and the afternoon Christian-leadership track. About 15 churches, with more than 100 participants, are involved in this first round. The process is formational, meaning that participants do more than attend class. They work in small groups or with prayer partners, fulfill homework assignments, practice disciplines and complete a final project at the end of each month. The OCE plans to launch more tracks next year, in consultation with cohort leaders and pastors.

“I see the OCE and the academy as re-establishing a stronger relationship between Christian university and church that once flourished in American history,” says Sittser. “In an increasingly post-Christian culture, a more robust relationship between Christian university and church could contribute to the renewal of both institutions and could help both students and church members to become more faithful followers of Jesus. As the period of easy, nominal Christianity comes to an end, the need for functionally mature Christians is becoming more acute. We hope the OCE and the academy will contribute to that end.” For more information and to sign up for courses, please visit the Academy of Christian Discipleship website.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Michelle Pace, program coordinator, Office of Community Engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3275 or

Lauren Clark, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or