(Minneapolis) – – – Wednesday, September 23, 2020 – – – The Board of Trustees of Bethlehem College & Seminary has called Dr. Joseph James Rigney to be the institution’s 2nd President. In an announcement made today during the school’s weekly chapel meeting, Board Chairman Sam Crabtree said, “The work of selecting a new president has been conducted over the previous two years—covered by the prayers of many and involving arduous effort on the part of my fellow Trustees—all for which we are grateful to God. To our great delight, Dr. Rigney has accepted our call.” Rigney is to assume office June 1, 2021.
“Fifteen years ago Jenny and I moved to Minneapolis to be a part of The Bethlehem Institute,” said Rigney. “We came because we wanted to see Christian Hedonism on the ground. We’d read the books and listened to the sermons. We wanted to see and experience a community shaped and formed by the biblical truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. We wanted to be equipped to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ,” he added.
Rigney continued, “What began as a two-year preparation for ministry has now turned into fifteen years of God’s faithfulness to us in these Twin Cities. And it is with a deep sense of my own insufficiency and a deeper sense of God’s all-sufficiency that I accept this call.”
Chancellor John Piper responded to the announcement saying, “I have known Tim Tomlinson and Joe Rigney longer than Bethlehem College & Seminary has existed. But since it has existed, both of their lives have been interwoven with mine and with the school. For the 11 years of this school’s existence, the grace of God in their lives has come cascading over the little waterfall of my life, becoming an ever increasing part of the reservoir of my thankfulness.”
“Year by year I looked upon their futures with glad trust that God would use them mightily for his glory through Bethlehem College & Seminary. That trust has been warranted—in the remarkable presidency of Dr. Tomlinson and the remarkable professorship of Dr. Rigney. As their trusted future has become a proven past, I am increasingly thankful,” he added.
Dr. Rigney is a member of the Bethlehem College & Seminary faculty, serving presently as Assistant Professor of Theology and Literature. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chester, where his dissertation was on “Diverse Excellencies: Jonathan Edwards on the Attributes of God.”
He holds a Master of Classical Christian Studies from New Saint Andrews College, a Master of Biblical and Pastoral Studies from Bethlehem College & Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Texas A&M. He also serves as a pastor at Cities Church here in neighboring St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a member of the National Board of Directors of The Association of Classical Christian Schools.
Rigney is married to his wife, Jenny, and they are the parents of three young sons. The members of the Rigney household are ardent baseball enthusiasts. Rigney’s grandfather, Bill Rigney, was manager of the Minnesota Twins before concluding a major league career in a second stint as manager of the San Francisco Giants.
Dr. Rigney’s published work includes Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles (Eyes & Pen, 2013), The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts (Crossway, 2015), Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God (Crossway, 2018), and more recently Strangely Bright: Can You Love God and Enjoy This World? (Crossway, 2020).
A Presidential Succession Commission named by the Board of Trustees formally began its work in May 2019. The Commission solicited and received input from every sphere of the school’s community. It considered the names of 39 different candidates, engaging a dozen or so for more careful scrutiny. In April, the Commission unanimously recommended Dr. Rigney to the entire Board of Trustees which on Friday, September 18, 2020—after conducting its own extensive interview—voted unanimously to call him to the presidency and, separately, to submit a nomination of him to become a member of the Board of Trustees, as required, to the Elders of Bethlehem Baptist Church for confirmation, an action which was taken on September 22, 2020.
“On behalf of the entire Bethlehem College & Seminary community we extend our congratulations to Dr. Rigney, as well as our most heartfelt, Godward gratitude for President Tim Tomlinson for his honest, steadfast, faithful, competent, and pious leadership of our school during its formative years and his ready cooperation and wise counsel during this selection process,” Crabtree added.
Bethlehem College & Seminary offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs on its main campus in Minneapolis and at extension sites in Memphis, Tennessee, the Hawaiian Islands, and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Founded in 2009, the school emerged from the ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church during the pastorate of Dr. John Piper, who now serves as the school’s chancellor. Bethlehem College & Seminary is accredited by The Association for Biblical Higher Education.
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