Steller to Receive Honorary Doctorate


Bethlehem College and Seminary Salutes Founding Leader


The Board of Trustees of Bethlehem College and Seminary has unanimously approved President Brian J. Tabb’s recommendation that the school confer the degree of Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) honoris causa on Tom Steller. The conferral is to take place during annual commencement ceremonies scheduled for Friday, May 17, 2024. Steller is a long-serving Minneapolis pastor, professor, and global missionary.

Tabb announced the Trustee’s decision today saying, “The book of Hebrews says, ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’” “Pastor Tom Steller is one of these leaders whose teaching and life are worthy of emulation,” he added.

Steller is regarded as “the architect” of Bethlehem College and Seminary, having conceived in 1998 of a program of academically rigorous pastoral apprenticeship while he was on the pastoral staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. The Bethlehem Institute later became Bethlehem College and Seminary in 2009, a degree-granting institution of higher education. Steller was the school’s first Academic Dean, serving in that capacity until 2020, when he joined the launch team of Bethlehem Seminary, Yaoundé, Republic of Cameroon, as Associate Professor of Biblical and Global Studies. Steller also currently serves as Director of Theological Education-Cameroon at Training Leaders International, another theological training organization he helped to found. 

Dr. John Piper, Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, said, “No one is more deserving of such an honor than Tom Steller. There would be no Bethlehem College and Seminary without his 40-year ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He laid the foundation in years of mentoring. He shepherded the formation of the successive manifestations from mentoring to training to institute to Seminary and College.” Dr. Piper added, “When Tom could have gone on to get his own Ph.D. he stayed to build a launching pad for others. And besides all this, ‘Doctor’ means ‘teacher,’ and Tom is still among the best.”

Steller joined the pastoral staff of Bethlehem Baptist Church in 1980, to serve alongside Piper as its then-new senior pastor, and ministered to that congregation for 40 years. He served in virtually every area of pastoral ministry during that tenure including congregational care, college ministry, global missions, executive leadership, and leadership development. 

A graduate of Bethel College, Saint Paul (B.A.), Steller received a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Fuller Seminary, Pasadena. In 2000, he decided to forgo doctoral studies to concentrate on pastoral and family responsibilities. “A student told Tom Steller then to have no regrets because, ‘We are your dissertation,’” said Tabb. “And so we are, but at last ‘Doctor Steller’ will receive the academic honors that he so richly deserves, with this being just another waypoint on his decades-long path of faithful devotion and service to the cause of Christ,” Tabb concluded.