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David Epstein, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church—the host for the Landmark Luncheon
The only hope for New York is to hear the Word proclaimed in love, and I cannot think of a better way to accomplish this than through the training this Divinity School is providing.  NYDS will help us get there, since it is a seminary under the authority of Scripture and accountable to the church.   This Divinity School is thoroughly evangelical, and the men and women who teach and lead are committed to the historic faith, as well as to compassion, to bringing the love of the Lord to every part of life.

I am very, very pleased to stand with Paul and the NYDS.  I love what is being done.  I am especially excited about the NYDS faculty, course offerings, holistic training, strong academic underpinnings, but also very pragmatic ministry orientation for the City context.

I join with Jim Cymbala and his strong endorsement of NYDS and its vision [see below].  What we need are Spirit-filled men and women who proclaim the truth without apology with hearts filled with love – and NYDS is preparing such men and women in this way to be leaders for the church.  NYDS will do even more as the community of churches gets behind it.   

Chatman Payne, Manager of American Bible Society Bookstore

NYDS has been an inspiration and an encouragement to me.  Dr. de Vries has helped me in a lot of areas – especially in the ministry to hurting people God has entrusted to us.

Being committed is essential to effective ministry.  We all start with vision and then stagnate, lose focus, get off track, and then go back to business as usual.  Instead, we must continue to be trained – to develop and to be equipped.  Men and women of God need to be trained for the growing needs and changing circumstances. 

The only way to serve is to be continually trained, and to remain committed to what God has given us.  And we must partner together.  With NYDS, the door is open for others to stand with us.

Victor Brown, Senior Pastor, Mt. Sinai Christian Church

My spirit resonates with the vision God has given Dr. de Vries.  He has the pulse of God as it relates to the transformation of our City.  Just as God needed a body to come in Jesus Christ, God needs a body now.  The world needs to hear, but also to sense and see.  Now is the time for the City to see the glory of God – in this Divinity School cmmitted to Him, and in a KOINONIA of churches co-laboring with the Divinity School and with each other.  

This is absolutely timely: we need to have responsible preaching, and we need to train people to do it right.  I believe that if irresponsible preaching were a crime, there would be a whole lot of preachers doing life sentences!  A lot of preaching is simply sensationalism, with inappropriate messages.  Many people have passion in preaching, but not skill and not responsibility – and this is disastrous in our churches and in the lives of our people.  NYDS teaches responsible preaching, because people need to be equipped with skill to be able to preach God’s Word with integrity and power. 

Lillian Chappell-Ferguson, Senior Pastor, Mt. Olivet Gospel Assembly in Queens

I met Dr. Paul de Vries fifteen years ago, and he has always been committed to excellent education under the authority of God’s Word.
God has placed us and placed our churches in communities to effect change.  Change is possible only with sharp tools.  Members along with their pastors must be taught in the Word, so that the whole Church can work toward God’s changes, his transformations.  I am here to commit to support Dr. de Vries and NYDS in all the ways that I can.

Ephraim Garcia, Associate Pastor of Bay Ridge Christian Center

I am glad to be here and also to represent Apostle Luciano Padilla, my senior pastor.  One of the things that impressed me with Dr. Paul de Vries is the research that he and two sociologists completed—that clearly demonstrated that only 6% of evangelical pastors in NYC have seminary degrees.  Seeing this Divinity School established is crucial because it is a great benefit to students and the people they will benefit. 

NYDS affords the evangelical community the opportunity to study at a Bible-based, Christ-centered, Spirit-led seminary that belongs to New York City.  For the people that want to be attorneys, there are schools to attend; for the people that want to be managers or doctors, there are schools to attend.  Why should there not be a seminary for evangelical ministers?  Only the Gospel can transform society.

Kevin Gravesandy, a leader of the “exodus” from the International Church of Christ.

We left the cult “International Church of Christ” because it was is not teaching what Christ taught, and it abused our donations.  After we began to question the cult leaders, we did not know where to turn.  I was grateful  that I was able to turn to Dr. de Vries and NYDS for excellent Biblical teaching, and that is now showing us the way.  There is something about knowledge and education in God’s Word that produces a confidence, as well as strength, power, and fruit in a person’s life—and not just for the pastor.  When one dozen of us came to NYDS to meet with Dr. de Vries and Dr. Horace Allen, they walked out not just enlightened intellectually, they walked out empowered.  I would encourage anyone – not just for yourselves, but also for those whom you lead – if you can encourage them to take even one course, you will help God’s kingdom to advance in a much more forceful and educated manner.

Joseph Henry Cortese, Senior Pastor, Crossroads Tabernacle

I am especially grateful to study at New York Divinity School.  God called me into ministry in my late 20s, but I had no training.  I was grateful to turn to NYDS, and now Professor Lawrence Taylor is my teacher for Elementary Greek.  I am a basket case because it has been so long since I have been in school – but Prof. Taylor has the patience and tenderness to bring us students into this important aspect of the New Testament world. 
Our church is 100% behind the vision of NYDS, and this is understood by every member.

Mike Paul, President of MGP and Associates Public Relations (www.mgppr.com)

When we talk of KOINONIA we mean deep-seated fellowship and radical community.  As Dr. de Vries pointed out, this Greek word means open sharing of vision, needs, and opportunities.  Clearly this includes our common cause in fulfilling the Great Commission; training men and women for ministry—lay ministry and pastoral ministry. 

We must live this fellowship, this KOINONIA, with integrity.  Personally, that is why when I arrived here at Calvary Baptist Church, I took the time to meet with my pastor, the host of our Landmark Leading Pastors’ Luncheon, because I needed some pastoral counsel.  No one of us is an island.  We need Godly honesty and integrity in community—especially among leaders—in order to model Biblical fellowship and to transform this City for Christ. If we don’t hold each other accountable, how can we best train students for ministry?  To do so, we must be transparent, honest and humble in the areas we need help before we even consider helping students. As Christian leaders, we are called to be examples for students, but most importantly, for Christ. We are called to mirror Christ’s reputation.

Paul Savage, Manager, Church Relations Department, American Bible Society
Dr. de Vries, I have seen how you’ve been laboring over this dream for years.  I know your passion, I know your vision, and I know your love of the Lord.  I would like to see this dream come true.  I would like to see NYDS become a bright light in the City, and a bright light in the heavens. 

It was (and is) my hope that you would receive the support you need to make your dream come true. 

Jim Cymbala, Senior Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle
At a Pastors' Luncheon at Brooklyn Tabernacle, Senior Pastor James Cymbala emphasized the following four critical points:  (Please request a transcript of Pastor Cymbala’s. comments.) 
1.  Priority: Training of more men and women whom God has called is a top priority of all of us pastors, but many NYC pastors and ministers are woefully unprepared for ministry – unprepared in Bible knowledge and the Spirit’s leadership – and we do not yet have the program in NYC to train them properly.  Intensive reading and individual mentoring are completely inadequate, with only rare exceptions. 

2.  Purpose: Ministry training must be based in the Bible, centered on Christ, and led by the Spirit.  We need men and women leading our churches that (beyond any cultural style) are prepared to bring people into God’s living presence and to disciple them in his Word. 

3.  Base: We cannot look to people outside New York to provide the needed training—whether we send students to them or they come here for short periods.  It is necessary to train the people whom God calls here in NYC.

4.  KOINONIA: Now is the time to co-labor as churches and leading ministers to address this need and opportunity; even larger churches like BT cannot do it alone.  We need to be renewed by our Lord and his Great Commission, so that our churches can co-labor for training men and women to represent the Lord Jesus Christ—powerfully and effectually—in the New York metro area.

We invite you to the KOINONIA, for the strengthening of the Church, for the equipping for ministry, for the transformation of men and women and of the City, and for the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If the Lord is putting it into your heart to support NYDS in some way, please contact Paul de Vries at New York Divinity School, 646-395-0008.


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