News and Events

Dr. Shirin Quoted in Christianity Today

Dr. Shirin was quoted in Christianity Today article on the Russian-Ukrainian church schism. This is the biggest church schism since Protestant Reformation. Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, granted the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine autocephaly, or autonomy. Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow, swiftly protested and declared that Russian Orthodox Church will not recognize this decision. Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate remains one of the two largest churches in the Ukraine. As a result of the controversy, Bartholomew is no longer mentioned during Russian Orthodox liturgies. Christianity Today quotes Dr. Shirin as calling on Ukrainians to work diligently to restore peace and unity of Eastern Orthodox family regardless of their allegiances. The full text of the article is available at;


Leland Spotlight

We are excited to announce that our former Director of Enrollment and Development, Rev. Danielle L. Bridgeforth, has published her first book. Vantage Point is a twenty-week devotional that examines foundational spiritual principles from five points of view designed to give readers God’s perspective on them and their lives. You are invited to join her for the official book release and signing on Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 5 pm at the Church at Clarendon (1210 N. Highland Street, Arlington, VA 22201). If you are not able to attend the event, but would like to purchase a copy you can do so here: https://www.redemption-press.com/shop/vantage-point/

Leland Advent – Sunday, December 02 at 6pm

Leland families and friends of all ages are welcome to join us for service as we thank God for the coming of the Prince of Peace. The Advent Celebration service is an annual event for the Leland community. We trust it will be a unifying and positive reminder of the common name we share as children of a God who demonstrated his immeasurable grace in the coming of his son, Jesus Christ. Following the service, conversation, food and fellowship will round out our evening together.


With the holidays approaching, you have enough time to shop at our brand new online Leland store. We’re so excited for our Leland family to represent this amazing seminary! Check out our store here: http://footprintapparel.com/johnlelandstore  and be sure to spread the word! Remember, you have until December 09 to submit your order, and processing will begin on December 10.  Don’t wait to order as there is less than two weeks left until the store closes.

A message from Rev. Walker

The John Leland Center appeals to its friends and supporters for gifts only twice a year. I asked for your help in April; thank you for responding. We need your help at year’s end, too!
Yes, part of Leland’s annual budget is funded by wonderful denominational partners — particularly, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, District of Columbia Baptist Convention, and Northstar Network, including many churches. Another part is from tuition payments from students and scholarships. But, without that third leg — gifts from friends like you — Leland cannot stand. We’ll not be able to make ends meet, let alone thrive robustly in the future.

This is an exciting time — a time of transition — at Leland. The trustees and faculty are making plans to take Leland to new heights. These include, among other things, a vision to enter the realm of online, distance teaching and learning without which small, free-standing, seminaries like Leland cannot survive nowadays. The details have yet to be worked out and therefore announcements are presently premature, but I am sure you would agree that the potential for Leland is bright.

By the way, speaking of the future, Leland this fall is entering its third decade! Can you believe we’ve had twenty wonderful, productive years of preparing students to proclaim the gospel and to promote God’s Kingdom in so many different ways?

Also, on a personal note, my interim presidency will conclude at this calendar year’s end. It will have been an honor and privilege to have served Leland for 16 – plus months. Thank you for being so supportive of my ministry here at Leland.

Again, won’t you please make a generous gift to help meet Leland’s current budget needs and invest in Leland’s future? We appreciate you!

J. Brent Walker
Interim President



We are pleased to announce that Leland would be represented at the 142nd Annual Gathering of DC Baptist Convention (DCBC) to be held on October 25-27 at the Pathways Baptist Church in Gaithersburg, MD, the theme for this year is “Undivided”

In addition, WAVA’s Pastor Conference, entitled Equip “The Art of Preaching,” to be held on Thursday, 10.11.18 at the Museum of the Bible. Both events will be attended by our Director of Enrollment, Min. Jacqueline Coker as an opportunity to network and recruit potential students.

From Dean John Lee

On Friday, September 21st, we gathered together for a prayer meeting at the Church at Clarendon for our Leland community, our area churches, and beyond. The event brought together people from The Rock Presbyterian Church, where Dean Lee serves as the senior pastor, and our Leland community of students and faculty. We also got to hear from Dan Baumann who is a career-missionary who was imprisoned in Iran for nine weeks in 1997. Dan’s message of intimacy with God and God’s embrace of us in our weakness and loving our enemies powerfully stirred all of us.

On Monday, September 24th, we gathered again – this time for the Washington Theological Consortium’s Faculty Convocation – for an extended meeting of worship and lecture. The worship was led by our Leland student, Sly Samudre and his wife, Amy. A combination of well-loved hymns and contemporary praise songs, beautifully sung and wonderfully led by Sly and Amy, brought a little taste of contemporary Baptist/evangelical style of worship to faculty members from other Christian traditions. The worship was followed up by a lecture about the cosmos and spirituality from Dr. John Haught, a well-respected Catholic theologian conversant in science and theology. To top off the evening, those in attendance met over a delightful dinner and conversation in White Hall of the Church at Clarendon.

Thanks goes out to the staff of the Church at Clarendon and all those who participated in these events.

Dean John Lee.

Still Accepting Applications…

If you or someone you know is interested in enrolling for classes, please contact Min. Jacqueline Coker, Director of Enrollment, at jcoker@leland.edu


Civil Rights Pilgrimage – open to all

Professors Jim Melson and Trisha Miller Manarin invite you to join us in November on a Civil Rights Pilgrimage. It is open to all.

We know our country continues to battle the sin of racism, classism, sexism and many other -isms. MACBF along with our partner the Cornelius Corps will engage in a time of spiritual practice leading up to our departure date. We will prepare ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ, not simply tourists learning more about American history. Our pilgrimage will introduce us to people living and dead who have impacted the world with the goodness of the Gospel.
A charter bus will depart from Northern Virginia on Thursday evening getting us to Alabama Friday morning. In addition to visiting these historic sites, we will be hosted by Rev. Reginald Brown of South Elyton Baptist Church. Rev. Brown is remarkable servant of God who has helped integrate public schools as well as pastor a local congregation. Our journey will take us to Selma and Montgomery. We will stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and quietly experience the new Memorial for Peace and Justice and we will stop and pray along the way.
Sites of Interest:
16th Street Baptist Church
Civil Rights Institute
Edmund Pettus Bridge
National Memorial for Peace & Justice
Civil Rights Memorial
Approximate Cost $575 plus meals

$250 deposit due Sept 15 – space is limited

Departing by bus Thursday evening, returning Tuesday (election day) evening. You will need to vote via absentee ballot.
Children over 10 years old may attend with a parent. Teens must be accompanied by a fellow church leader or parent.
***Those who need an advocacy rotation may contact Prof Manarin to earn credit for participating in the pilgrimage and doing an additional assignment tmanarin@leland.edu ***

For more information, please contact Professor Trisha Miller-Manarin


Leland Merchandise Now Available!

 An 11 oz. ceramic coffee or tea mug featuring an imprinted message of “Knowing Christ Serving Christ” image in white printed on both sides.  This ceramic mug is a great hot or cold beverage holder for office or home coffee or tea drinking.  They also make great gifts!  To find out how to order, Please email Jacqueline Coker or Vicki Bohannon  

Melissa Rogers Will Speak at Leland Graduation 2018

Leland will hold its graduation at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Church at Clarendon and our guest speaker will be Melissa Rogers, a member of Columbia Baptist Church and formerly special advisor to President Obama on policy issues related to religion and partnerships with faith-based organization serving people in need.  Melissa currently serves as non resident senior fellow for Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution

News From Leland’s Alumna Lisa Smith

Dear Leland friends!

“I wanted to pass along our news as a Leland Alumna.  Convergence is currently the featured article on Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership online magazine”. https://www.faithandleadership.com/art-and-faith-converge-hybrid-churchcommunity-arts-center?utm_source=FL_newsletter&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=FL_topstory

They read about us in the recently published book Divergent Church: The Bright Promise of Alternative Faith Communities (Abingdon Press). http://www.abingdonpress.com/product/9781501842597#.WsUQz4jwZdg 

I hope that you feel joy as well, since, it is in large part due to Leland and the encouragement of the faculty, staff and students that we are even here. God blessed me with the right teachers, encourages and challengers at just the right time in my life and I am grateful to have had the seminary experience I did. Thank you! Please let me know if there is any way I can be of service by sharing some of what we’ve learned, encouraging, etc. I would really appreciate it if you would share this news with Leland Alumnae, students and supporters. I certainly know how important encouragement and knowing you aren’t “alone” in doing things differently can be.


No Class during Reading Week!

Holy Week (March 25-31)  Students, Please use this time to read, recharge and get closer to God.. Enjoy this time during reading week to get closer to God. Classes will resume on April 2.



Students and young professionals: How can you use your unique skills and passions to join in the mission of God?

Mission Possible is a one-day conference that allows you to explore your faith and calling through art, justice and mission.  To find out more, click here

Who is invited to Mission Possible Virginia 2018? You are!


Lenten Service Sunday, Feb 18

Have you ever thought of Lent as a yearly second chance? Each year we are given a specific time look into our lives to see if our values and priorities are in line with God’s desires for us. Since most of us find that we’ve wandered from God’s path, Lent becomes that second chance, or do-over, to “return to God with our whole heart.”  Join us this year in worship! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018
Church of Clarendon   
  1306 N. Highland St.
Arlington, VA 22201  

Rev. Howard-John Wesley Teaches at Leland

The Reverend Doctor Howard-John Wesley is the son of the late Rev. Dr. Alvin and Dr. Helene Wesley and represents the fifth generation of Baptist preachers in his family. Dr. Wesley is the proud pastor of the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.  Known to challenge the mind and inspire the heart, Dr. Wesley is a much sought after speaker for worship services, conferences, and revivals. His preaching became a favorite of President and Mrs. Barack Obama who worshiped with their family at Alfred Street Baptist Church on several Easter Sundays.

We are offering an intensive, “Preaching with Power & Persuasion”,  taught by Rev. Howard-John Wesley.  The class will meet on Saturday’s starting 1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24, 3/10.  For more information about registration, please contact info@leland.edu

Upcoming All School Gathering

Please mark your calendars and make plans to attend this required Community Formation Event. We are looking forward to kicking off the Spring 2018 semester together as a Community.  At this year’s All-School Gathering and Spiritual Formation Service, we will share a meal, fellowship and worship together.  This will be a great way to start our semester of study.  We hope to see you there!
All School Gathering
January 20, 2018 / 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Main Campus (Arlington VA)
Families are welcomed! Please RSVP with the number attending by emailing our Director of Enrollment, Jacqueline Coker.

January 2018 Reflection by Dr. Dapaah

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will” (2 Cor 8:1-5, NIV)
In the novel Brothers Karamazov, Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky narrates a story about an old, wicked peasant woman who died without leaving behind a single good deed. She was so selfish that everything she did was for her benefit alone. She illicitly acquired whatever she could without giving anything to anyone, no helpful deeds for her community, not even a kind look or smile on her neighbors. When she died, the devil seized her and plunged her into the lake of fire. Her guardian angel wondered what good deed of hers he could bring up to plead for her before God. “She once pulled up an onion in her garden,” said the angel, “and gave it to a beggar.” God then told the angel to take that onion, hold it out to her in the lake, and let her grasp on to it and be pulled out into Paradise. The angel ran excitedly to the woman and held out the onion to her. “Come on,” said he, “take hold and I’ll pull you out.” The angel carefully began to pull her out. She was almost out when the other sinners in the lake, realizing what was happening, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. Remember, she was an unkind woman in her lifetime. So she started screaming and began to kick them. “I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.” As soon she said that, the onion broke and she fell into the lake where she has been burning to this day. So her guardian angel wept and went away.
This is a wonderful story that speaks to the human condition! The story isn’t about how to get into Paradise as much as about how to avoid hell-not that fiery lake at the end of the world’s history, but the hell in the here and now, whose flames include greed, selfishness, self-gratification, pride, indifference, exploitation, exclusion, and the like. We are all innately selfish, doomed to self-destruction without the grace and generosity of God. God, personified in the guardian angel, is immensely good even to the wicked. God seeks to save us and weeps when we are desperately stuck in our sin and refuse His gift of grace.
No life worth living is possible without generosity. Yet, it is not by our generosity, however slender, that we are saved. The Apostle Paul understood this paradox when he wrote: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Our generosity comes from God: a God who gives and forgives; a God who created us to find fulfillment as we share His love with others. May we be generous as the Macedonian believers! And may we follow the example of the Creator God who visited us during that First Advent over two thousand years ago and generously gave Himself up for us so that we might live!



This Sunday, December 3, Join us for our Advent Service!

Leland Advent 
Service of 
Confession and Celebration
Sunday December 3rd, 6:00 pm
The Church at Clarendon
1210 N. Highland Street
Arlington, VA 22201
Leland families and friends of all ages are welcome to join us for a service of confession and reconciliation as we thank God for the coming of the Prince of Peace. The Advent Celebration service is an annual event for the Leland community. This year, an added Confessional part is Leland community’s coming before God to seek forgiveness and reconciliation for the pain and injustice that were committed in the recent past. We trust it will be a unifying and positive reminder of the common name we share as children of a God who demonstrated his immeasurable grace in the coming of his son, Jesus Christ. Following the service, conversation, food and fellowship will round out our evening together.
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Arlington, VA 22201

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