Dr. Jiri Moskala has been appointed dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. In October Dr. Denis Fortin announced his desire to step away from administration in order to return to full-time teaching in the department of theology at the seminary beginning fall 2013. Moskala will become dean on July 1, 2013.
Moskala has been a professor of Old Testament exegesis and theology at the seminary since 1996 and currently serves as chair of the Old Testament department. “My vision for the Theological Seminary is to be the light for the world and the theological resource for the church,” Moskala said. “We are here to serve the worldwide church in various capacities, to prepare future church leaders to work and deal with different challenges in order to proclaim the eternal Gospel with conviction, urgency and passion, make a difference for good, and prepare people for the second coming of Jesus.”
Born in the Czech Republic, Moskala earned a Master of Theology in 1979 and a Doctor of Theology in 1990 from the Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University. In 1998, he completed a PhD at Andrews University. He began his ministry as a pastor for the Czecho-Slovakian Union, serving until 1989. When the Communist regime fell after the Velvet Revolution, he established and served as the first dean of the Theological Seminary affiliated with the Adventist Church in Prague. He has been a presenter at many Bible conferences and theological symposia in all 13 world divisions of the denomination and has lectured at Adventist universities and colleges around the world.
The new dean is a member of several scholar societies, including the Society of Biblical Literature, Society of Christian Ethics, Chicago Society of Biblical Research, Adventist Society for Religious Studies, and Adventist Theological Society. Moskala has authored or edited a number of articles and books in both English and the Czech language. In addition, he has participated in several archaeological expeditions in Tell Jalul, Jordan. Moskala and his wife, Eva Moskalova, have five adult children and three grandchildren.
With the current discussion of a number of theological issues in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, including ordination and various interpretations of Genesis 1, there has been considerable interest in who would fill the vacancy created by Dr. Fortin’s resignation. Pastor Ben Schoun, chairman of the board for Andrews University, a vice president for the General Conference and former seminary faculty member, described the process in the official news release announcing the new dean. “We narrowed it down to five candidates. When the final candidate review was done, it felt like the Lord was leading because there was a definite consensus that emerged on one candidate: Jiří Moskala.” Schoen described Moskala as “a fine academic scholar and very loyal to the church.” He stated, “I don’t know anyone who can question his commitment to the mission and values that we stand for.”
The Seminary dean is an ex officio member of at least three important bodies for the Adventist Church; the General Conference executive committee, which is the denomination’s governing body; the International Board of Education and the Board of Ministerial and Theological Education, which establish global policy for the denomination’s schools. “The Seminary … is like a wonderful think-tank for the Adventist church,” Schoun said. “For those of us in church leadership … it’s nice to get the counsel of the thinkers who are here at the Seminary. It’s a wonderful resource to be able to call upon in these various kinds of church issues.”
“Moskala is someone who comes from a very strong biblical and mission-oriented background,” Ted Wilson, General Conference president, was quoted in the official news release. “He and his family are very focused on the tremendous task the Lord has given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
The Seminary is one of the most ethnically diverse graduate schools for clergy in the United States with about 550 students on campus and 750 more attending classes at extension sites in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. It is fully accredited by the multifaith Association of Theological Schools, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Adventist Accrediting Association.
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