Contact: Jo Brosius, Director of Communications FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Asbury Theological Seminary ANNOUNCES THE RETIREMENT OF DR. STEVE HARPER
ORLANDO, Fla. (November 26, 2012) – Asbury Theological Seminary announces the retirement of Dr. Steve Harper, Professor of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies and founding Vice President of the Florida Dunnam Campus. Asbury Seminary is set to honor Harper and his wife, Jeannie, at a reception on November 28, 2012.
Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, President of Asbury Seminary, said, “Nearly a decade ago Steve wrote ‘We are never nearer the purpose of our existence than when we embrace the idea of life lived for others.’ Steve has lived out his purpose every day in extraordinary ways, and Asbury Seminary is richer for it.”
In 1997 the Board of Trustees of Asbury Seminary chose Orlando, Florida for the location of its second campus. Orlando was an intentional choice – it was decidedly urban, richly diverse, rapidly growing, and a de facto gateway to the world. The choice of Steve Harper as its first leader was equally intentional. Dr. Maxie Dunnam, former President of Asbury Seminary, said, “Steve Harper was the right person to be the founding leader of our campus in Florida because of his commitment to spiritual formation. I was convinced that theological education needed to take place in the context of community and a community that was defined by its life together in Christ. Steve had been working in the arena of spiritual formation for many years. It seemed natural to me that he would be the right leader for this new expression of Asbury Theological Seminary. His contribution to the spirit and ethos of the campus has been inestimable.”
Under Harper’s leadership, the Florida Dunnam campus has grown to an enrollment of 241 students, making it larger than nearly 80 percent of seminaries in North America. In 2001, he oversaw the development of the Latino/Latina Studies program, a non-degree certificate in theological studies with an opportunity to specialize in six different areas of ministry. The program is taught in Spanish from a Hispanic perspective and is designed to prepare leaders for the rapidly growing Latin Church. In 2008 Harper forged a partnership with Asbury University, a Christian liberal arts undergraduate institution, to establish Asbury ACHIEVE, a non-traditional, accelerated program designed to provide adults with an opportunity to complete a degree.
Today, Asbury Seminary students in Florida study in five graduate degree programs, and the Florida Dunnam Campus is characterized by an active spiritual formation program, close community, vibrant worship, and attentive faculty. Debi Andrews, executive assistant to the Vice President, said, “Asbury Seminary’s Florida Dunnam campus is permeated with the DNA of Steve and Jeannie Harper. They founded this campus with their prayers and tender loving care. God blessed those efforts and multiplied them a thousand fold.”
Harper recently won the Asbury Seminary 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award. His nomination read, in part, “He has never changed his theology nor his determination to carry the Wesleyan message of holiness throughout his distinguished career.” His impact reverberates not only on the Florida Dunnam Campus and with alumni, but also with faculty. Dr. Stephen Martyn, Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation, said, “When I look back over my life I can honestly say that no one person has had a greater overall impact upon me than Steve Harper. He was the first person I heard mention the name of Asbury Theological Seminary, and upon his suggestion I went to Asbury for my M.Div. Then, when the Lord called me to attend graduate school, Steve found the amazing persons of Adrian van Kaam and Susan Muto. Since I was in middle school, attending a Methodist summer camp, Steve has been ahead of me pointing out the way of Christ. Along with many others, I owe Steve Harper an immense debt.”
Dr. Leslie Andrews, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, said, “Dr. Harper has served as a member of the ATS faculty with distinction. His deep passion for community and worship and prayer, along with his teaching, will be an enduring legacy to thousands of his students.”
Harper has served as a youth pastor, evangelist, pastor and professor. He was an elder in the Northwest Texas Conference, United Methodist Church from 1972 to 2004 and then transferred to the Florida Annual Conference. Harper served as professor of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Seminary from 1980 to 1992. From 1992 to 1996, he and his wife, Jeannie, launched and developed a ministry to ministers called Shepherd’s Care, where they served until 1996, when The Upper Room in Nashville invited Steve to become the founding director of The Pathways Initiative, a ministry to spiritual leaders. He served with The Upper Room from 1996 to 1998 when he was invited back to Asbury Seminary. Harper served as Vice President of the Florida Dunnam Campus until 2009. After stepping down from the Vice President’s post, he remained an integral part of Asbury Seminary serving as professor of spiritual formation and Wesley studies.
He is a member of the Theta Phi Honor Society and the 2004 recipient of the Francis Asbury Award (GBHEM). He has authored 12 books and co-authored six others. His latest book is Talking in the Dark, Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense. Harper resides in Winter Springs, Fla. with his wife Jeannie. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.
About Asbury Theological Seminary:
With multiple campuses, Asbury Theological Seminary is an interdenominational graduate school of theology committed to teaching the unchanging truth of historic Wesleyan Christianity through the most dynamic means available. Asbury Seminary offers a variety of degrees, including the master of arts, master of divinity, master of theology, doctor of ministry and doctor of philosophy in intercultural studies, biblical studies. Total current enrollment nears 1,600 students, representing 91 denominations and 44 countries. For more information, please visit asburyseminary.edu.