Farewell North Park

Farewell North Park April 25, 2012

A little over seventeen years ago I got a phone call from David Nystrom, professor at North Park, asking me if I would be willing to consider teaching at North Park. I said I was and that phone call led eventually to my being offered a teaching post at North Park University, where I have been teaching with delight. But this will be my last semester, and tomorrow I will announce our new opportunity.

Where to begin? I begin with David Nystrom and Sonia Bodi, who at that time were Dept chair and Humanities chair, who introduced me to all things North Park — and I cannot say enough about them and how I have missed them as they have moved on — and the many wonderful faculty in Humanities and Biblical and Theological Studies — including my friends Greg Clark, Daniel deRoulet, Ron Dooley, David Gill, Klyne Snodgrass, Boaz Johnson, Brad Nassif, Joel Willitts, Mary Veeneman, Ginny Olson, Jim Dekker, Justin Topp, Jeff Nelson, Kurt Peterson, Linda Parkyn, Linda Duncan … I could go on. I will miss more than anything my long early morning discussions with my good friends Joel Willitts and Boaz Johnson.

The students have been amazing and wonderful and … moans and groans omitted … from the days of Scott Nelson and Karen Wenell to current students like Teel Short and Cory Shumate and Josh Wooden and Kellie Carstensen and Trinity Mather and Abi Svoboda (this sizable group will get irritated with me if I skip any names but I will). My 8am Jesus of Nazareth classes, now taught at 9:50, where so many book ideas got their first airing; the constant teaching of the survey of the Bible class — from Berg to Magnuson to Carlson Tower — and those Honors students have been the highlight of almost every year. 4th Yr Seminar and Women, the Bible and the Church (led by Victor) …  Students in the office chatting, and papers about conversion stories, and papers probing theological topics beyond their reach but amazingly somehow probing big questions with sound methods and ideas, and an irreplaceable memory — this year’s “The Group” who came to my office, early in the morning, every other week, and for whom I became barista and conversation partner (you are the best).

But here’s the family story:

Long ago I used to begin my Jesus class with a form students were to fill out, and one of the questions was “What are your personal aspirations?” Well, one young woman in the back row jokingly wrote down “I want to be your daughter-in-law someday.” Guess what? She is! Before she had met our son, Lukas, she said this. Then Lukas, who eventually graduated from NPU while also playing in the Cubs organization, met Annika Nelson, they got married — and now we have two wonderful grandchildren because of North Park.

Everything about NPU breathes the Evangelical Covenant Church … who supported my book The Jesus Creed in ways that pushed me into circles and opportunities I never anticipated, whose pastors I have met and preached for and chatted with and corresponded with and prayed for … and who have become friends (like Mark Novak, Gary Walter, … better stop there) … and for the wonderful balance this gem of evangelicalism has somehow found.

When I landed at North Park David Horner was President … who was as much a standup comedian as I have ever met and then he was succeeded by David Parkyn, who has become a trusted friend and whose leadership style I admire. How David walked our campus through the last few years, from that nasty flood on has become a model for me of how leadership works well. And Joe Jones our Provost and Charles Peterson our Dean and Mark Olson and Carl Balsam — these folks have given their lives and entire days to the school in ways that deserve gratitude. I can’t fail to forget to mention that wonderful trio on the 2d floor: Susie Olsen, Sue Gost and Karen Mears. (I won’t be bugging you any more.)

When I walk out the gym at graduation, it will be with a memory of all the joys of the opportunity to teach at one of America’s finest Christian schools of learning.

I say this after a month or so of grieving what I knew would be a loss … and I loved North Park and will continue to do so…

… come back tomorrow, I’ll have an announcement.

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  • Aaron

    Thank you Scot – blessings during this time of transition!

  • Looking forward to hearing what God has is store on the next leg of your journey, brother.

  • I pray the Lord blesses you in your new opportunity…but I don’t like the suspense of waiting until tomorrow! 🙂

  • SJA

    Congratulations and many blessings on whatever the new endeavor is. As a “Covenanter,” I’m very sorry to hear that you’re leaving NPU, and I hope you’ll continue to have strong ties within the ECC. You’re right, it’s a gem.

  • Dn4sty

    Farewell, Scot Mcknight 😉

  • Scot you will be missed. We celebrate your new calling!

  • Scot, congratulations and best wishes on new adventures!

  • Keith Irwin

    So glad I got to take a class with you this semester, Scot. Fortunately, I have around 50 of your books and will have the privilege of learning from you moving forward. However, I am mad at you and will deal with you tomorrow for not mentioning me.

  • /gratz and blessings on new endeavor(s)…

  • Scott Nelson


    I cannot say enough of the difference you have made in my life. Thank you for all you have done in my life, and in the lives of so many countless people. I want to say more, but I will include that in an email. God bless you my friend!

  • Boaz_Johnson

    Scot . . . (with moist eyes!), I will miss you my brother, friend, mentor, colleague!

  • Barb

    as someone who is very close to a similar University community–these announcements are always so bitter sweet–for both sides. I’ll be up early tomorrow to see what the news will be.

  • Joshua

    Professor, I never imagined the impact your teaching, but more importantly, your life, would have on me during my time here. God bless you wherever you go, and may he bless whatever you set your mind to. I am sorry to see you leave, and am glad I had the opportunity to take every class you offered (and wished you offered even more).

  • Loved the daughter-in-law story! Looking forward to hearing the big news tomorrow, Scott.

    Thanks for the clarity you bring to all things theological.

  • mmesachi

    “The King Gospel” is in a process of being translated into Japanese and will be published in Japan, hopefully by the end of this year. It is now official. Are you leaving Chicago? I was hoping to have a chance to meet with you someday. (I live in south suburbs of Chicago, and go to Parkview. I was supposed to attend your seminar in Jan., but my mom had a heart attack that week and I had to fly to Japan. )
    I first run into your blog when I was translating “The Language of God” by Francis Collins. At first I didn’t know that you and RJS were two different persons! Anyway, ever since then, I got hooked with this blog, and you totally broaden my world. I can’t thank you enough.

    Best wishes for you and your family.

  • RJS

    Great family story …

  • Scot, as I read your post, it became so apparent that you have spent these 17 years investing in people. The love, admiration, and respect that you have for your students, colleagues, and friends says a lot. Your attention to detail as you reflect on these years really does honor those who have been a part of your life on campus.

    I wish you the best in the next chapter of your life.

  • Scot, what a wonderfully written reflection on your time at North Park. That school was to me the liberal place where most of the people probably weren’t even Christians years ago when I attended a conservative school southeast of there. Thankfully, God has done some work on my heart and head since then. Reading your books I’ve come to have a real appreciation for your students and their willingness to wrestle out loud with what Christian faith looks like. Reading this today only deepens my appreciation for them and for North Park. And you’ve blessed them with your presence there.

    I look forward to hearing about “the next thing.” If you will post it at 12:01 am I promise to stay up to read about it.

  • Ben Z

    Scotty, scotty, scotty and the jets!

  • Luke Allison

    What can I say? Your books and preaching and blogging have impacted me in more ways than I can count. All of my class work is piggybacking off of your proposals in the King Jesus Gospel.

    Thank you for your pastoral heart and your scholarly soul, and your desire to always know more about our teacher and Lord in his context.

  • Judy Diehl

    Blessings in whatever your new calling is! I have mixed emotions, as I know many people do. It has been a pleasure to know you, share our denomination with you, work with you, to read your insights, and have you as an editor. I do hope that it all continues…..:)

  • Peter Herzog

    What a legacy!!

    (is Scot going to be Romney’s running mate??)

  • Alison B

    I will sooo miss your smiles, your laughter, your insights, your sarcasm, your coffee-talk, your songs…I can go on and on. 🙂 It absolutely won’t be the same in 5047 Spaulding without you, but I wish nothing but the absolute best for you and hope you’ll stay in touch!

  • Matt

    Scott is being traded to the Canucks for Luongo.

  • Doreen Olson

    Scot, you’ve been for me a great prompter of good and deep reflection and that for the wider church as well — and I’m going to assume that THAT role you’ve played in my life will continue! Blessings on you in this next segment of the journey, my friend.

  • Oh Scot, bittersweet news! Thank you for your faithfulness to North Park. I am grateful for the time I spent in your Jesus class and what I learned and continue to meditate on today. Blessings to your future!

  • Wow. I’m confident North Park’s loss will be someone else’s gain. It’s clear you’ve blessed many at NPU, as you have me. Blessings to you, your family and your ministry during this time of transition.

  • Ryne Treatch

    Hello Scot,
    We’ve never met, but I still know who you are. My sister and brother-in-law (Eric and Erikka Hedberg) both went to North Park. Through the years I’ve heard many great things about you both as a teacher and man of God. In a way it kind of made me regret opting not to attend NPU when Erikka and I graduated high school. I hope and pray the best for you and your family and I look forward to hearing and seeing the amazing things God will continue to do through you in a world that desperately needs to be filled with his love.

  • a joyful and thankful post. Every blessing in your new role Scot

  • Wow, waiting for the announcement tomorrow. I get up at 5:30 and we’ll see how early you post it. Can’t wait. Blessings and completeness in everything to come!

  • Alice H

    Looking forward to hearing what’s next for you and will sure miss seeing you around. I agree with Alison B’s comment wholeheartedly (as I generally do… I find it’s a good strategy in life).

  • I have been blessed by your guidance, from 8:00 Jesus of Nazareth, through NPTS and finally with my thesis. Thank you Scot!

  • scotmcknight

    The post will appear tomorrow just after 10am …

  • Ah so you finally did it, you are quitting to take up woodworking!!!!

  • God’s richest blessings on your next chapter. You’re what a teacher should be: accessible, challenging, compassionate, wise, curious – and a barista to boot. Even though I have never been in your classroom, I consider myself a student. I can’t wait to hear where you’re launching next!

  • Scot, I’m sure you’ll be greatly missed at NPU. Am sorry about you leaving there, but happy for your new opportunity to come.

  • Liz

    And “The Group” will miss you too, Dr. Scot (one “t”) Your Highness Excellence His Majesty McKnight. I am sad I couldn’t have learned more from you, but grateful for the year I had. Whether in class, in your office, or walking across campus with Joel Willitts and Kellie Carstenson, discussions or casual jokes with you have often been the highlight of my week. Thank you for all of your guidance, and good luck.
    P.S. I insist the pizza party be converted into an impromptu Goodbye party.

  • Stephen Mook

    Scot, sorry for falling asleep during your exam! I look forward to telling that story to my kids one day. Brother, a blessing to have had a year learning from you and for the friendship over the years.

    Mark 12:28-31

  • Davi Baker

    Bless you brother in your next stage of service.

  • Oh, my. A lovely reflection and I am so grateful for these 17 years of your affiliation with our denomination and our university. I’m sitting in a United gate area waiting for the short flight to Santa Barbara after 4 days of work and fellowship with Doreen, Millie and crew out at Techny Towers, often thinking during those days of back and forth of how glad I am that you’ve been part of us. The topic for this next (and last) of three prayer retreat opportunities is spiritual companionship. And though I don’t know you beyond this blog, I am so grateful for your companionship over the years. I look forward to your announcement tomorrow, knowing that God has many good things in store for you and for the church and for the kingdom wherever you land.

  • MatthewS

    Your students were surely blessed to have you.

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rains fall soft upon your fields and as you journey on, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

  • Mike M

    Made me cry. May our Father bless you and your family in whatever you do. If a man’s impact on the world can be measured by the number of lives he changed for the better, then you are one outstanding human.

  • Drew Van Tiem

    Thank you, Scot, for the lectures, laughs and insight into more than just the Bible. I’m humbled to have learned from you and am excited for all the others that will be blessed in your future.

  • JR

    Please don’t tell me you’re going to South Bend or Durham. USC or Fuller would be pretty cool, though. : ) Blessings in your new journey.

  • Lyle Mook

    I especially want to thank you, Scot for your investment in my son’s life that will continue to bear fruit and form him into a better man of God and the Word. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him…!”

  • Mark Habluetzel

    Scot, your classes, books, and blog have been significant for my life journey… and the fact that you remember your students and take the time to chat. Thank you for everything!

  • How very exciting. As one of your “external” students I would like to say Benedicamus Domino for what he has done through you at North Park!

  • Krista Lindwall Chacko

    Blessings on the journey, Scot. Thanks for all your wisdom and training. We are looking forward to what God has in store for you next.

  • Scott Bolinder

    “The Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all ya gotta do is follow.”A gospel chorus with good theology. May God shine as brightly through you and your family in the next assignment as he has in this one, Scot. You are a gift to the church and the Covenant. Godspeed!

  • Jim D

    Scot, We will miss you around the office! Many thanks for the time you took to shape my perspectives. God has a real cool way of going with you – I am glad for those you will touch in the new places you will go.

  • Jessie Flippin

    I understand that you asked about the big guy from DeKalb that went to NorthPark and his where-abouts! I am his mother and if you would like to e-mail me at the listed e-mail address, I would be happy to tell you what he has been doing these last 6 years or so.
    Thanks. Hope to hear from you!

  • All God’s best in your next steps. Us folk out here in Jesus Creed land appreciate you carrying us with you wherever you go.