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About Seattle Pacific University

 

“Seattle Pacific University is a Christian University fully committed to engaging the culture and changing the world by graduating people of competence and character, becoming people of wisdom, and modeling grace-filled community.”

– Mission Statement Seattle Pacific University

 

Engaging the Culture, Changing the World
Statement of Faith for Seattle Pacific University
Our Educational Philosophy
Our Christian Community
Our Location
Our History
Our Traditions
Accreditation and Affiliation
Our Resources for Learning

 

ENGAGING THE CULTURE, CHANGING THE WORLD
With a long and distinguished history in Christian higher education, Seattle Pacific University entered the new century positioned to engage the culture and influence the world for good. At a time when the legacy of the secularized modern university is under scrutiny, Seattle Pacific provides 4,000 students with a high-quality, comprehensive education grounded on the gospel of Jesus Christ. This combination of vital scholarship and thoughtful faith is a powerful one that brings about lasting change in the lives of our graduates, and in the people and communities they serve.

Located just minutes from downtown Seattle, the leading urban center in the Pacific Northwest, SPU is committed to engaging and serving in the modern city, cultivating a global consciousness, supporting the church, and addressing the crisis of meaning in our culture. These, we believe, will be some of the Christian university's most important contributions in this century.

We seek to graduate people of competence and character. At SPU, each student is profoundly important. We focus our curriculum and resources on shaping graduates who will be effective and positive change agents in the world. This means that we work to prepare individuals who understand their own giftedness, who are both liberally educated and skilled in their chosen field, who exhibit honesty and integrity, and who value serving others.

We seek to become people of wisdom. As a university, SPU believes that one vital means of transforming lives is through ideas: ideas that matter; ideas that can bring light and understanding where there is darkness and confusion; and ideas that lead to wisdom. We support our faculty in the pursuit of this kind of scholarship, and we educate our students to become thinking Christians who are able to speak clearly and intelligently about their convictions.

We seek to model a grace-filled community. As we serve our students and commit ourselves to the life of the mind, we believe our best work is done in community. In our life together at Seattle Pacific, we strive to treat each other and all people with respect, kindness, and care. Recognizing and respecting differences among individuals, our goal is to become examples of grace, forgiveness, and civility in a culture that is too often polarized and contentious. [Back to top]

 

Guiding the work of Seattle Pacific University are these goals:

Core Theme 1: Seattle Pacific University will be a place that aims to master the tools of rigorous learning and becoming a vibrant intellectual community.

Core Theme 2: Seattle Pacific University will be a place that embraces the Christian story, becoming Biblically and theologically literate.

Core Theme 3: Seattle Pacific University will be a place that understands the world.

Core Theme 4: Seattle Pacific University values the centrality of character formation in the life of the individual.

STATEMENT OF FAITH FOR SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY


Faith and Mission
At Seattle Pacific University, we seek to ground everything we do on the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Such a claim is both personal, a commitment by each member of our community, and institutional, a corporate aspiration that has guided this institution from its founding. Even while we celebrate the rich diversity of the church throughout the world, we anchor our faith on the person of Jesus Christ, the authority of Holy Scripture, and the tradition of the Christian church throughout history.

Our mission at Seattle Pacific University is to engage the culture and change the world, through competence, character, wisdom, and community. We believe our faith in Jesus Christ is the informing and sustaining power through which we fulfill this distinctive calling.

Our position of faith within the Christian church is shaped in four ways:

1. We Are Historically Orthodox. We affirm the historic Christian faith, as attested in the divinely inspired and authoritative Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and as summarized, for example, in the Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed. We affirm that God is triune, and that the three divine Persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — are co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal.

We affirm that by the grace and power of God, the universe was brought into being, is continually sustained and governed, and will ultimately be brought to its promised consummation. We affirm, further, that we human beings are created by God in God's own image to be stewards of creation, and that we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as ourselves. In these divinely appointed tasks we have failed, so that we are now subject to judgment and death.

Yet we rejoice that God's grace is available to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and that through faith in Christ we are delivered from sin and death and empowered by the Holy Spirit for lives of joyful obedience to the Father. Finally, we respond to the Spirit's call to participate in Christ's body, the Church; to embrace Christ's mission to the world; and to live in the hope and assurance that Christ's return will bring to completion God's saving work.

2. We Are Clearly Evangelical. We stand within the broad evangelical tradition of Christianity and, as such, we joyfully accept the task of proclaiming the evangel — God's good news — to the world.

We understand this to mean that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of the world and that he alone can liberate broken and fallen human beings from sin and death. We lift high the authority of Holy Scripture as divinely inspired, embraced by the Church as central to our understanding and witness. We affirm that the Holy Spirit works in human hearts to kindle faith in Jesus Christ, to restore people to a right relationship with God and each other, and to begin transforming people into the likeness of Christ.

And we believe the gospel promise that light, health, wholeness, and peace are abundantly available to everyone who asks. Yet we also believe that we are called to practice what we preach: First, by cultivating vital Christian piety; and second, by engaging the surrounding culture through public testimony and loving service.

3. We Are Distinctively Wesleyan. Standing within the Wesleyan holiness branch of historic and evangelical Christianity, and recognizing the Free Methodist Church as our founding denomination, Seattle Pacific University is informed by the theological legacy of John Wesley and Charles Wesley. We share their conviction that God's saving purpose is the renewal of human hearts and lives in true holiness through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

We are shaped by their emphasis on the importance of the human response to the Spirit's renewing work, including the vital role of the spiritual disciplines and practices — such as prayer, meditation, worship, Scripture study, charitable giving, public witness to Christ's saving love, and service to those in need — all of which serve as means of God's grace. Above all, we embrace the Wesleys' hope that God's transforming love is offered to all persons, addresses all areas of life, and will not rest content until it has redeemed the whole creation.

4. We Are Genuinely Ecumenical. As heirs of John Wesley's catholic-spirited Christianity, we seek to gather persons from many theological and ecclesial traditions who have experienced the transforming power of Jesus Christ. We believe that theological diversity, when grounded in historic orthodoxy and a common and vital faith in Christ, enriches learning and bears witness to our Lord's call for unity within the church.

We are also well aware of other dividing walls that separate people from one another, walls that Christ desires to break down — walls of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, language, and class. We believe that Christ calls us to value diversity and to seek ways for all persons in our University community to grow in their individual giftedness and to contribute in meaningful ways to our common life and work. Thus, in all of our diversity, we are centered in Christ, and called by him to shape, model, and participate together in grace-filled community.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to this faith, and to these shaping influences that define our community of faith, and we pledge ourselves, with humility and conviction, to live as best we know how in loving relationship with Jesus Christ and in faithful service to others. This we believe to be the defining center of our lives and the guiding aspiration of our life in community at Seattle Pacific University.
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OUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY


A Vital Learning Community
We are a Christian university that prizes learning and seeks to be a vibrant learning community that grounds its intellectual activity in learning theory. Our faculty and staff are committed learners and are committed to mentoring learners. We are convinced that the best learning occurs within a relational context of the teacher, student, and subject matter, and we therefore prize the relationships between faculty, staff, and students.

We are committed to learning for cultural engagement. We seek to rigorously investigate the critical issues of our time and to offer thoughtful and Christian insight to these issues. We believe these issues can be investigated through a variety of academic disciplines; however, they cannot be fully understood through only one discipline. Therefore we are committed to interdisciplinary learning — learning that explores these critical issues through several disciplinary lenses in order to come to a clear view of the issue.

We are a learning community and all that we do is intended to support learning. Therefore our work with student life, residence life, student leadership, university ministries, athletics, lectures, and symposia are all intended to contribute to learning along with the curriculum.

An Integrated Curriculum
As a comprehensive university, we offer learning opportunities in the humanities, arts, sciences, and professions, and all of our programs are grounded in the liberal arts. The liberal arts include particular content areas but also imply a style of education that seeks to develop critical thinking, analytical thinking, and communication skills.

Research indicates that students do not see the connections between general education, majors, and their future. Through a three-part curriculum, we seek to integrate general education with the major in ways that help students make the connections.

We begin with a commitment to a very distinctive Christian Common Curriculum. In the first quarter of their freshman year, SPU students are enrolled in University Seminar, an intensive exploration of a special interdisciplinary topic. Twenty to 25 students enroll in each course to form a cohort and attend other freshman classes in the Common Curriculum together. Their University Seminar professor serves as their first-year academic advisor. The relationship between students in the cohort and their professor are intentional and support our belief that the best learning occurs within a relational context.

In their freshman, sophomore, and junior years at Seattle Pacific, students participate in two parallel sequences of required courses. Cumulative and developmental in nature, these classes are designed to support and enhance students' learning in the majors.

The University Core sequence explores key human questions in three classes titled Character and Community; The West and the World; and Belief, Morality, and the Modern Mind. The University Foundations sequence looks at the basics of faith in Christian Formation; Christian Scriptures; and Christian Theology. A senior capstone course in the student's major adds application and personal calling to the picture.

Learning Outcomes
Our learning outcomes are our educational goals for our students and are directly derived from our University's mission statement. Following are the outcomes we seek for our undergraduate students:

Competence
SPU graduates will articulate discipline-specific knowledge and apply essential skills enlivened by the liberal arts. An SPU graduate:

  • Demonstrates knowledge of Christian narrative and beliefs.
  • Demonstrates knowledge in disciplinary field.
  • Integrates liberal arts and disciplinary knowledge.
  • Applies knowledge, inquiry, and critical-thinking skills in problem solving.
  • Demonstrates a global perspective.
  • Communicates effectively.

Model Grace-Filled Community
SPU graduates will cultivate a life of friendship, civility, and community through responsible discourse and respect for each other. An SPU graduate:

  • Demonstrates interpersonal skills necessary for effective personal and professional relationships.
  • Engages with diverse others.

Character Formation
SPU graduates will embody personal and professional integrity by serving the public good in doing what is right and doing so with an awareness of consequences. An SPU graduate:

  • Reflects upon ideas and actions through the lens of Christian faith and ethics.
  • Balances interests of self, others, and the community in pursuit of the common good.

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OUR CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY


Study in a Christian university provides a unique opportunity to explore answers to life's ultimate questions. While honoring the diversity of the members of our campus community, Seattle Pacific University embraces the commitment that all faculty, staff, and students will explore the meaning and implications of the Christian faith for our academic disciplines, our personal and corporate lives, and for the complex issues we face in our society and world. This commitment integrates academic programs with residential and campus life, personal and corporate reflection, co-curricular activities, and community service.

Programs contribute to our vision to be a grace-filled community that nurtures people of competence and character, cultivates the scholarship of wisdom, and equips people to engage our culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For more information regarding the theology and programs, see SPU's University Ministries / Center for Worship (OUM/CFW) and The John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development (JPC).

Commitment
Our campus community is enriched by the diverse faith traditions within our student body, and is therefore committed to honoring and respecting these traditions. We are also committed to the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we seek to do the following:

  • Develop outstanding curricular and co-curricular worship, discipleship and service programs that contribute to the fulfillment of our mission and vision as a Christian university.
  • Give all students the opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of the Christian faith while at the same time honoring the diversity of our student body.
  • Encourage students' responsibility for their own spiritual accountability.
  • Provide abundant opportunities for the development of an informed and thoughtful faith, a vibrant worship life, engagement in a grace-filled community, holistic discipleship, and culture-engaging local and global service.
  • Facilitate students' growth in leadership abilities through student-led programs.

The John Perkins Center, and University Ministries and Center for Worship provide learning opportunities for the campus community through Faith/Learning Forums. Forums are special events regularly offered by these departments addressing various contemporary topics from the perspective of the Christian faith. These often follow a debate or panel format with time for questions and answers. 

We also assist in the planning of all-campus convocations, a rich and vibrant tradition at Seattle Pacific University. Beginning with Opening Convocation at the start of the academic year and extending to Graduation in the spring, these events provide an opportunity to celebrate together as a community and to reflect together through the seasons of the academic year. Both OUM/CFW and JPC offer a variety of programs designed to engage the SPU community in a holistic lifestyle of worship, discipleship, and service.

UNIVERSITY MINISTRIES AND THE CENTER FOR WORSHIP

Gathering in Worship
Our mission to engage the whole world with the love and reconciliation of Christ begins when we gather together to worship God and immerse ourselves in the Christian story. In this way, we learn who we are and how we are called to participate in the Holy Spirit’s work on earth. Though participation in worship services is not required, and students are encouraged to participate in churches from their own traditions, a broad variety of opportunities are available on campus that contribute to our mission as a university. Students, faculty, and staff can participate in different weekly worship services, including the following:

  • Chapel. Normally held on Tuesday mornings, Chapel is a creative and vibrant service featuring a variety of worship styles and outstanding guest speakers. Chapel offers all members of the SPU community — students, faculty, and staff — an opportunity to gather together and re-center our lives on the gospel of Christ. In addition to Tuesday morning services, we occasionally offer a Sunday Night of Worship in collaboration with local churches. The Chapel team also offers regular “Exhale” events — opportunities to worship God through the creation of art.
  • group. At this Wednesday night worship service, students gather to sing, pray, and study the Scriptures together. Each quarter at group, we allow ourselves to be shaped by one particular book of the Bible. For example, during the 2008-09 academic year, we studied the books of Genesis, Matthew, and James. We do this so that we might be better formed in our identity and mission as God’s people — and learn how to support one another along the way.
  • Friday Morning Prayer and Communion. Prayer and Communion is a contemplative and liturgical service of prayer and Holy Communion, and is led by a variety of ordained staff and faculty members.

Building Relationships

Living as people who are reconciled to God and others means stepping outside of ourselves and engaging with the lives and stories of our neighbors. University Ministries facilitates the formation of deeper personal relationships by supporting these small groups on campus:

  • Cadres. Faculty and staff lead more than 20 discussion groups each week with students. Some explore insights the Christian faith brings to contemporary issues; others gather around a particular interest of the participants. Many of these groups meet within specific academic departments and examine in-depth the relationship between the Christian faith, academic disciplines, and vocation.
  • Small Groups and SMC-led studies. More than 40 student ministry coordinators (SMCs) serve in the residence halls to provide support and encouragement. The SMCs lead or facilitate prayer, Bible study, and discipleship groups on each floor of the residence halls, and serve as a link between resident students and the wide array of ministry opportunities available at SPU.
  • Sharpen. The Sharpen ministry is a community of off-campus students dedicated to living every day with Christian purpose. Sharpen forms new small groups and coaches existing ones. Sharpen forms mentoring relationships between upper- and lower-classmen. And Sharpen sponsors students living in apartments or houses who want to form Intentional Living Communities.

Relinquish Prayer Ministry
The purpose of Relinquish is to draw on the gift of prayer as a means of connecting SPU’s student body and act as a resource for the creation and facilitation of prayer groups and prayer-related events on campus.

  • We are an umbrella ministry that serves as a resource for students who want to start a prayer group, be part of a prayer group, or put on a prayer-related event but are not sure the best way to do so.
  • We seek to help students explore different types of prayer through events and retreats that help them to find different ways to connect with God and to offer education of the discipline of prayer through forums or lectures.

 

THE JOHN PERKINS CENTER FOR RECONCILIATION, LEADERSHIP TRAINING, AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Christian Community Development
Emphasizing core values of relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution, Christian community development promotes healthy development in communities of need.

The John Perkins Center at SPU allows students to learn through partnership with local leaders engaged in community-transforming work in Seattle and across the globe. Receiving training, exposure to effective models, and volunteer support, students provide needed service while building cross-cultural skills and awareness.

Local Community Service
Urban Involvement connects student-led teams to Seattle-area organizations for weekly service activities. Opportunities include tutoring, working with homeless individuals, and mentoring young people. Urban Involvement provides volunteer support and facilitates connections between students and effective community leaders.

Latreia coordinates quarterly service projects for students seeking to explore a variety of service opportunities. Additionally, an online volunteer database lists a wide range of local community service needs.

Global Community Service

Seattle Pacific Reachout International (SPRINT) exists to cultivate lives that are awakened to and transformed by God’s purpose and passion for a broken world. From the outset, student involvement has been pivotal in launching the missionary movement in North America. SPRINT wants to continue this legacy of raising students at SPU who will light the fire of a new generation, eager and enthusiastic about God’s purpose and plan for the world. That’s why we offer SPU community unique global learning and service opportunities to challenge you to ask big enough questions:

 

  • What in the world is God doing? 
  • How in the world is God expressing his message of hope?
  • What in the world has this got to do with me?

In trips ranging from two to six weeks to cities and villages around the globe, students will step out of their comfort zone, experience and encounter God, learn from the faith and example of others, and engage in models of reconciliation and community development that demonstrate the wholeness of the Gospel. The trips are designed to help participants discover and develop the following:

 

  • Global vision that sees the needs of a broken world, and sees God in relation and response to these needs.
  • Personal response through a life of self-giving service and vocational alignment with God’s purpose.


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