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Ross Wagner and Jim Miller to head up Whitworth Institute of Ministry July 13-17

June 30, 2009

Ross Wagner

Prominent church leaders Ross Wagner and Jim Miller will lead the 34th annual Whitworth Institute of Ministry July 13-17 on the Whitworth campus, in north Spokane. WIM provides clergy, laity, and their spouses and children with a week of spiritual encouragement, equipping for ministry, and inspiring worship.

WIM will offer special tracks for participants this year, including a preaching track and a spirituality track. Throughout the week, Wagner and Miller will lead worship services, Bible hours and workshops. Other workshop leaders will include Whitworth theology and communications faculty members and one of the university's counselors.

The public is invited to attend the institute's worship services Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. in Seeley Mudd Chapel. President Bill Robinson will speak at the concluding worship service on Friday, July 17, at 10:30 a.m., in the chapel. Admission to the services is free.

Pre-registration and payment is required for those who wish to participate in other WIM programming, including Bible hours, seminar tracks and afternoon workshops. For complete WIM details, a schedule of events, and to register, please contact the WIM program coordinator at (509) 777-4345 or visit

Jim Miller

During Whitworth's weeklong institute, youth programs will be available for children of participants. Art, music and recreational activities are planned for all age groups, including a teen program for junior- and senior-high youth. Trained caregivers will be present to care for infants and toddlers. Accommodations in residence halls and on-campus dining services will be available for Institute of Ministry participants.

Ross Wagner, who earned his Ph.D. at Duke University, has taught New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary for 11 years. He also serves as an elder at a growing congregation in Princeton, N.J. His research focuses on early Jewish and Christian interpretations of Scripture, the Septuagint, and Pauline theology. In collaboration with his colleague, Darrell Guder, he regularly offers courses on missional hermeneutics. Prior to teaching at Princeton, Ross spent several years on the pastoral team of a church in the Chicago suburbs.

Jim Miller has been the pastor at First Presbyterian Church, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since 1992, and he also serves as a trustee at the University of Tulsa and at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A native of Wilmington, Del., Miller received a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from the University of Edinburgh, an M.Div. at Princeton Seminary, and an A.B. in history from Wheaton College. His dissertation on the pastoral letters (I, II Timothy and Titus) was published by the Cambridge University Press in 1992. In the past, Miller has served as a pastor at congregations in Linlithgow, Scotland, and Indianapolis, Indiana, and he has worked as an adjunct professor of Greek at Wheaton College.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Toni Sutherland, program coordinator, Whitworth Institute of Ministry, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4345 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or

The power of noncooperation in Iran

June 19, 2009
By Patrick Van Inwegen, Ph.D.

The events currently unfolding in Iran demonstrate the power of noncooperation to stop the normal flow of government in its tracks. Anti-government demonstrators have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest what they view as election fraud perpetrated by the government to secure a more conservative president.

Supporters of the opposition candidate have attended rallies by the hundreds of thousands in Tehran and throughout the country. In response, the Basij, or morals police, as well as the normal police and special riot squads have brutally cracked down on peaceful demonstrators. In an effort to quell the protests, the Basij have entered Tehran University, violently beating students with clubs in retribution. At least seven people have been killed in the clashes between police forces and the demonstrators. Most recently, the government has clamped down even more on the media to try to keep people from finding out about rallies, deaths, or any activities related to the election.

The protests are illegal in Iran, but, the opposition argues, are justified given that the government’s manipulation of the election was also illegal. Giving some credence to the opposition’s complaint, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and ultimate source of authority in the theocracy, has said that the government should look into the irregularities.

The events are well covered in the media and continue to unfold, but let’s pull back for just a minute to realize the power of what is happening. There is the very real possibility of regime change in Iran, something that all of the U.S. saber-rattling and Axis-of-Evil labeling could not do.

Many people participated in the election, though we shouldn’t go so far as to call it a democratic election, but many more are now participating in a more robust form of democracy – non-cooperation. The regime demands compliance and the Iranian people will not submit. The police force people from the streets, and yet they come back by the hundreds of thousands. The government says that President Ahmadinejad won the election in a landslide, but the people do not accept the election results.

The power of noncooperation is startlingly clear – Iran has not backed down from pursuing nuclear capabilities, even with the threat of Israeli airstrikes and UN sanctions. However, the clergy are terrified of the possibility of continued noncooperation by the opposition’s supporters.

While threats of airstrikes, sanctions or a robust military presence in the region may look intimidating, noncooperation is working to force the government to change – it is not clear that the government will accept the opposition’s demands, but it has already conceded to investigating the irregularities. This change is extremely positive because noncooperation, at its heart, is democratic. It depends on rule by the people. This may pave the way for real democracy in an area where it has historically been absent.

Whatever the outcome of this particular event, the use of noncooperation to pressure the government to change has helped lay the groundwork for a more vibrant transition to democracy. Compare this with historical US efforts at regime change that have relied on military domination, thereby reinforcing submission to power.

Noncooperation, as a tactic, is something we should support as much as possible given the positive outcomes that are likely. Using noncooperation creates the “paradox of repression” – when a government represses peaceful demonstrators who are demonstrating because the government is repressive, it proves their point in a very clear way to the rest of society. That helps to explain why the repression in Iran, so far, has not stopped the demonstrations. Given this, there are only two ways to effectively end noncooperation – complete repression or responding to the opposition. Complete repression would be very difficult in Iran, given the level of affluence, the demographics (70 percent of the population is under 30 and thus has relatively little to lose), and the claim that the government is a theocracy guided by Islam. Response by the government opens the way to peaceful change and negotiations that look much more like the compromise necessary in a democratic regime.

Response from the government carries the problem, for the government, of setting the precedent that it is responsive to the demands of its people. Again, this will help to push the regime toward democratization.

The events in Iran give us a powerful example of the power of noncooperation to promote democracy by building democratic processes. It is one we should support and promote throughout the world.

Patrick Van Inwegen is an associate professor of political science at Whitworth University. His areas of specialization/expertise include international relations; comparative politics; the strategy of nonviolent action; and trends in revolutions.

Note: The opinions expressed in works written by Whitworth faculty and staff do not necessarily represent the views of Whitworth University or members of its community. They are, however, symbolic of Whitworth’s commitment as a Christian university to the free exchange of ideas.

Whitworth to open site downtown this fall

June 17, 2009
Business degree, general education courses to be offered in Spokane's University District

Photo courtesy of the Journal of Business
In response to growing demand from its students and from the surrounding community, Whitworth University plans to start offering courses this fall in the University District, located just east of downtown Spokane.

The new site will be located on the second floor of the Sirti Building, at 665 N. Riverpoint. The University District includes Sirti, which is a state economic-development-related agency, as well as Gonzaga University, branch campuses of Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, and the district offices of Community Colleges of Spokane.

"Whitworth has a longstanding relationship with the downtown business community, and we are thrilled to expand our services to the Spokane region by offering evening classes for adults who live or work downtown," says Cheryl Vawter, Whitworth's director of administrative services for graduate and continuing studies.

Whitworth will begin by offering a bachelor's degree in organizational management, as well as general education courses that can be applied to the organization management degree or other degrees offered at Whitworth's campus in north Spokane.

The courses will be structured in the university's accelerated format, which is geared toward non-traditional students who want to attend classes at night. In the accelerated format, students take one class during each six-week term, and meet one night each week plus two full Saturdays during the term, or two nights a week with no Saturday sessions. Although Whitworth will initially offer one general education course and one organizational management course during each session, the university has tentative plans to begin offering a third course per session, depending on demand.

Whitworth assigns students in the organizational management program into cohorts, which are groups of up to 20 students who take all of the courses required for their major together. Whitworth designs the program this way to foster a strong sense of community and to increase collaborative learning among the students; professors are also able to get to know the students better throughout their time in the program.

"Offering courses in the University District will give working adults access to our student-centered, high-quality academic programs closer to their homes or workplaces," says Terry Ratcliff, Whitworth's dean of continuing studies. "Students can expect the same high-quality instruction and student support whether they attend courses on campus or downtown."

Whitworth's downtown office will provide all of the services that students would receive on campus. Prospective and current students will be able to meet with their advisors, complete their admissions and financial aid applications, and register for classes, among other services. As with other courses Whitworth offers in its evening accelerated format, the cost of books is included in tuition, and students will receive all of the books required for each course on the first day of class.

After Whitworth researches market data to determine which programs would serve the community best, the university is planning to offer other degree programs downtown.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Cheryl Vawter, director, administrative services and graduate and continuing studies, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4518 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or