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Whitworth Office of Church Engagement Undergoes Changes, but Key Leaders Will Remain Active

June 3, 2020

After 26 years of service to Whitworth, Terry McGonigal, Ph.D., will retire from his position as the director of the university’s Office of Church Engagement (OCE). However, he will continue his work as a senior fellow in the OCE, supporting pastors and the office’s large network of churches.
He also will go back to his teaching roots, filming his signature Shalom class for the Academy of Christian Discipleship resource library within the OCE this fall. 
McGonigal will also film his Gospel of John course in the spring of 2020. Both tracks will be posted in the Academy of Christian Discipleship resource library. 
McGonigal came to Whitworth in 1994 as a campus pastor and associate professor of theology. He served as dean of spiritual life for 20 years before helping establish the Office of Church Engagement in 2014 along with Professor of Theology Jerry Sittser.

McGonigal has championed vital partnerships with more than 100 area churches, and his work with the Lilly Endowment, Murdock Trust and Presbyterian Church (USA) has secured millions of dollars in grants to expand those partnerships and provide opportunities for OCE network churches and Whitworth’s students wanting to “to engage culture with the good news of Jesus.”
The current associate director of the OCE, the Rev. Mindy Smith, D.Min., will become interim director on July 1.
Smith graduated from Whitworth in 1998. She earned her master of divinity degree in 2006 from Princeton Theological Seminary. Two years later she received a call from McGonigal to serve as campus pastor at Whitworth. She graduated with a doctor of ministry from Portland Seminary in 2018 and became the associate director of the OCE in June of the same year.
“I am so proud of the office that Terry has built over the past five years,” Smith says. “Terry’s deep heart for Jesus Christ, his love for the church and his understanding of Scripture has shaped a vision for the office that so perfectly fits the mission of Whitworth. My hope is to continue on in the rich legacy he leaves, one in which the OCE continues to equip disciples with the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Professor Jerry Sittser, a senior fellow in the OCE, will also retire this summer. Sittser has served Whitworth for 31 years and taught numerous classes on the history of Christianity, Christian spirituality and religion in American public life. 
He founded the Certification for Ministry program, the master of arts in theology program and the Academy of Christian Discipleship. He has written nine books, among them: A Grace Disguised, A Grace Revealed, The Will of God as a Way of Life and his latest book, Resilient Faith: How the Early Christian "Third Way" Changed the World.
Sittser will continue his role as part-time senior fellow focused on church-planting initiatives and developing resources for the Academy of Christian Discipleship, including his latest class, “A New Catechumenate.”  
“Whitworth University, along with hundreds of churches and their congregants, is deeply grateful for Terry McGonigal and Jerry Sittser’s vision to extend the resources of the university to enable and equip the life of the local church,” Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor says. “I’m proud of the OCE and its growing influence in the spiritual lives of so many in our region and beyond.” Taylor added, “Mindy Smith will be a capable and passionate leader as the OCE charts its future course, and I’m grateful for her willingness to lead the way during this season of transition.”
To learn more about Whitworth’s Office of Church Engagement, please click here.
About Whitworth University:
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Alexis Perry, assistant director, Office of Church Engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4439 or
Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or