Bystrom and Westgate Set to Retire at Years End

by Megan E. Richard

MB Biblical Seminary is saying farewell to two long-term professors from the Fresno, California campus. Professor of Pastoral Ministries, Raymond O. Bystrom and Associate Professor of Practical Studies James Westgate, have each announced their plans to retire at the end of the 2006-2007 school year.

Bystrom, a former pastor of two MB churches in British Columbia, and former professor of biblical studies at Trinity Western University and Regent College, has been with the Seminary for the past sixteen years serving as both faculty member and director of theological field education. Over the years, he has taught at least 18 courses, including preaching, ministry of the laity, the Missional Church, the Gospel of John and the Pastoral Letters. He has published numerous articles and authored three books.

“Ray’s vision for the Missional Church has provided the focus for the articulation of the seminary’s theological core values. His forthright and caring concern for students will be part of his legacy,” says Academic Dean Lynn Jost.

Bystrom and his wife Betty plan to move back to British Columbia to be closer to family. He will remain available to teach as an adjunct professor at all three of MB Biblical Seminary’s locations and continue pursuing writing with books on homiletics and biblical studies currently in process.

Westgate came to the Seminary thirteen years ago having spent the majority of his life serving as pastor and director for numerous churches and urban ministries in the United States. Westgate has taught a variety of courses on the Seminary’s Fresno campus including Church Revitalization, Racial and Gender Reconciliation, Church Planting, and Urban Ministries. He has also organized the Cross-Cultural Ministry course, an eighteen day intensive exposure to over 50 ministries in Los Angeles and Fresno. Jim has spearheaded many partnerships between the Seminary and local churches and non-profit organizations.

“Jim has been a motivating pioneer for Seminary relations with Fresno community development leaders in the church and parachurch ministries. His passion for the transformation of community systems as well as needy persons has been a beacon for us at MB Biblical Seminary,” says Jost.

Jim plans to write, develop a handbook on church health and revitalization for the Mennonite Brethren church, and continue to work at community development initiatives in the Fresno area. Among the seminary programs that Jim has developed is the Women in Ministry diploma program, which began this fall with over 40 registrants.

A search is underway to fill a Pastoral Ministries faculty position and a position in mission and evangelism for MB Biblical Seminary’s Fresno, California campus.

Through its campuses in Fresno, California; Langley, British Columbia; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, MB Biblical Seminary inspires and equips men and women to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, and to serve and lead in the church and in the world.

Posted: January 18, 2007