President Tomlinson Announces Retirement in Summer 2021


(Minneapolis) – – – Thursday, January 16, 2020 – – – Dr. Timothy Tomlinson announced today that he plans to retire as president of Bethlehem College & Seminary in the Summer of 2021, a move that initiates a formal search for his successor and stages a period of leadership transition.

“There comes a time in the life of an institution when the torch of leadership ought to be passed to a new generation, and I have prayerfully discerned that such a time has come for Bethlehem College & Seminary,” Tomlinson stated. “I have no intention to waste a moment of the earthly life with which the Lord may yet bless me to continue to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples in Jesus Christ,” Tomlinson said.

As for the remainder of his tenure, Tomlinson said, “My hope is to use the ensuing months to continue to build the strong and growing reputation of Bethlehem College & Seminary; to extend our accreditation standing; to build a stronger financial foundation for the school; to reach our goal of 250 full-time students enrolled on the main campus; and to foster the growth of our extension sites in Cameroon, Memphis, and perhaps elsewhere.” he added. “I will be eager, as God may permit, to continue to serve Bethlehem College & Seminary after my retirement in whatever ways the trustees and our next president may deem appropriate,” he added.

Tomlinson has been president of  Bethlehem College & Seminary since its founding in 2009, having previously served as the volunteer director of The Bethlehem Institute at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis during the decade prior.

Chancellor John Piper commented, “President Tomlinson has been of inestimable value in leading this school since its founding. We did not deserve the risks he took, or the sacrifices he made, in leaving an esteemed position in his academic field to oversee a fledgling institution with no history. His influence and achievements in bringing us to where we are have been indispensable. God was very kind to us to lead this remarkable man to establish our school in rock solid commitment to the Bethlehem Elder Affirmation of Faith. He has unashamedly waved the banner of Reformed, Complementarian, Christian Hedonism under our allegiance to the infallible Scriptures. Suffice it to say, I love him.”

Bethlehem College & Seminary has grown under Tomlinson’s leadership from a start-up concept to a fully accredited institution of higher education in a decade’s time. “I have always fashioned myself a builder,” said Tomlinson. “After a two-decade career in academia as professor and administrator, the trustees of this new school invited me to join them these last ten years in conceiving and building a new model of theological education, the idea of a church-based college and seminary.  I can say without reservation that God has blessed me beyond measure by allowing me to be part of establishing this school. I am so very grateful to Him and to all those who have served and contributed to bringing this unique vision to fruition.” Tomlinson added.

“There is nothing we have done, or will yet do here, apart from the grace of God,” said Tomlinson. “God’s work at Bethlehem College & Seminary during the last decade has been, above all, to lift high His sacred book and to magnify His sovereign power. By his grace, we have proved out a novel concept of small-scale, high-impact, church-based higher education; assembled a faculty, staff, and student body of extraordinary caliber and gospel ambition; achieved accreditation and peer standing in the larger academic guild in an astonishingly short period of time; and filled pulpits, reached nations, and influenced secular workplaces with the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” he added.

A Presidential Search Commission has been formed by the school’s board of trustees to undertake the work of recruiting, interviewing, vetting, and praying over the selection of the school’s next leader. “Our hope is to identify a preferred candidate by Fall 2020, finalize a selection in early 2021, and install a new president at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year,” said board of trustees chairman, Sam Crabtree. “We will soon make an announcement regarding the commission’s process, but for now we invite all those who know and love Bethlehem College & Seminary to join us in seeking the Lord’s wisdom and favor in this important endeavor,” he added.

A native Minnesotan, Dr. Tomlinson received his B.A. from the University of Iowa. He subsequently received M.A.s from both the University of Wisconsin and Bethel Seminary (Christian Education). His doctoral work was pursued at the University of Minnesota where he earned a Ph.D. He subsequently received a Certificate in Education Leadership from Harvard University. Before being selected as the founding president of Bethlehem College & Seminary, Tomlinson served for 25 years on the faculty and in the administration of the University of Northwestern—St. Paul. He and his wife, Anita, have been members of Bethlehem Baptist Church for over 35 years.

Bethlehem College & Seminary offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs on its main campus in Minneapolis and at extension sites in Memphis, Tennessee 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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