In United News

United Theological Seminary establishes Fresh Expressions House of Studies

Rev. Dr. Michael Beck appointed director of House of Studies focused on innovative leadership and ministry.

Michael Beck

DAYTON, OH, SEP. 28, 2020 — United Theological Seminary, in cooperation with Fresh Expressions US, has established a Fresh Expressions House of Studies to equip students called to cultivate and lead new forms of Church. Dr. Kent Millard, President of United, is pleased to announce the appointment of Rev. Dr. Michael Beck as Director of the newly constituted House of Studies, where Dr. Beck will bring experience from his positions as Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions US and Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church as well as on-the-ground pastoral leadership of Christian communities.

Houses of Study at United equip students for service in the communities, movements and denominations where they serve. The focus on Church Renewal at United connects deeply with the work of the Fresh Expressions movement by equipping Christians to start contextual expressions of church among the many segments, neighborhoods and people groups of society.

Currently, United is co-sponsoring and offering continuing education credits through the Fresh Expressions US online Resilient Church Academy, including an upcoming Master Class with Dr. Beck and Dr. Leonard Sweet, president emeritus of United. The creation of this new House of Studies at United further animates the Seminary’s efforts to provide new delivery methods of theological education.

“In a day when things are moving at a rapid pace, I am grateful to United for their pioneering leadership,” said Fresh Expressions National Director, Dr. Christopher Backert. “We are excited to partner with United and the House of Studies to both endorse and offer curriculum aimed at the kind of missional theology and practice espoused by the Fresh Expressions movement.”

Through the Fresh Expressions House of Studies, United is offering a Doctor of Ministry focus group in Fresh Expressions and Church Renewal, multiple non-degree certificate programs, and continuing education units. The Seminary is also launching a Fresh Expressions track in the Master of Divinity program, coming in 2021, under the House of Studies.

“We, at United, are very excited to be partnering with Michael Beck and Fresh Expressions US to equip women and men with the skills and passion to reach those who may not think to come to ‘traditional church’ with the good news of Jesus’ love and freedom,” said Dr. Scott Kisker, Associate Dean for Masters Studies at United. “I can’t think of a better person than Dr. Beck, in terms of his own story of coming to Christ, his knowledge and his skill, to help lead and form ministers for this important missional enterprise.”

Dr. Beck and his wife, Jill, serve as co-pastors of Wildwood United Methodist Church, in Wildwood Florida, where they direct addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, an interracial unity movement, and a network of thirteen fresh expressions that gather in places like tattoo parlors, dog parks, and burrito joints. Michael earned the Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics and Future Studies at Portland Seminary with his mentor Dr. Leonard Sweet. He is the author of the Deep Roots, Wild Branches series (Seedbed, 2019), A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh Expressions (with Jorge Acevedo, Abingdon, 2020) and co-author with Leonard Sweet of Contextual Intelligence: Unlocking the Ancient Secret to Mission on the Front Lines (September 2020).

About United

United Theological Seminary is a graduate professional school of The United Methodist Church offering masters and doctoral theological degrees and continuing education with programs offered on campus and online. United’s goal is to prepare faithful and fruitful Christian leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ. 

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