Nyack Christian Higher Education

About Nyack Christian Higher Education

Nyack College, through its undergraduate, graduate and seminary programs, pursues its historic mission of preparing men and women to ”take the whole Gospel to the whole world.”

Urban Ministry and Pastor David Beidel

pastor david beidel alliance theological seminary

From Pastor David Beidel’s blog on urban ministry at New Hope Community Church and Urban Hope NYC

There is a long and beautiful road I use whenever I travel to my alma mater, Alliance Theological Seminary. Our church was conceived and an “urban promise” was made some 20 years ago on that quiet road, when God used the memory of a prayer request to break and capture my heart.

A young man was temporarily living at my house when he asked our small prayer group to pray for his 10-year-old niece, who was being prostituted by her stepfather to support his crack habit. We all sat stunned at his request, literally overwhelmed by the evil it represented. A subconscious numbing seemed to wash over everyone. A few of us mumbled a prayer; though our heads were bowed, our hearts were running from the horror and the sorrow of our city.

A week or two later I was heading to seminary preparing, ironically, for urban ministry. I sensed God saying, Do you really want to serve me? . . . You have to go there; you have to let it in; you have to begin to feel what I feel. I said, “Yes Lord” and wept in a way I never had before and never have since. I prayed, “Whatever it takes, help me to make a difference in my city.”

That day marked the beginning of a long journey. My wife, Rebecca, and I began New Hope Community Church in our living room a year or two later. Our neighborhood in Staten Island had its share of crack addicts and prostitutes, abusive parents and physically and psychologically abandoned children. Three children we ministered to were murdered, one ended up in jail for murder, several more for attempted murder. Many were taken away by child protective services because of neglect and physical and sexual abuse.

There is very little that seminary can do to prepare you for inner-city work. Chasing pit bulls out of your backyard . . . running outside in pajamas as you hear one of your neighborhood kids being beaten half to death . . . wrestling with your gun-wielding neighbor as you try to convince him not to shoot a police officer. Our house was broken into, our cars robbed often, our hearts broken and bewildered time after time. Nevertheless, just as Jesus had a special appointment to keep in Samaria, we have experienced His nearness as well.

One of the great joys of this journey is that “where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Rom. 5:20). For 20 years we have experienced “grace upon grace” as we have witnessed thousands of our neighbors open their hearts to Christ. Hundreds have been discipled. The Lord enabled us to purchase a warehouse (formerly used as a chop shop, pit bull puppy mill and drug dealers’ haven) in a neighborhood that had been known as Wild Wild West Brighton, Bloody Brighton or Murder Alley (our cross street!). As a church that operates on a shoestring budget, it is impossible to express the mighty miracle that God did in eliminating our $400,000 mortgage in 2010.

When we purchased our facility in 1999, West Brighton had the second highest murder rate in New York. In January 2000 we as a church fasted and prayed against the “spirit of murderous rage” in our neighborhood, and the murders stopped. To this day, 12 years later, the murder rate is down 95 percent. The Lord has clearly given us favor.

The harvest here is so ripe, it’s as if the fruit is begging to be picked. We spend hundreds of hours walking the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, praying and sharing the good news. Seldom does a week go by when we do not have the opportunity to lead several neighbors to Christ.

One young man, Elijah came to the Lord in jail. I had been talking to him about Jesus for weeks, and one day, there seemed to be a breakthrough. But that night, he participated in a robbery and was caught. He took that experience as a wakeup call from God. Now he often accompanies me in going door to door to share the gospel in the very housing project where he lives.

“I have a big heart for anyone that was in any type of lifestyle that I used to be in,” says Elijah. “I don’t want to see that. If I’m in the light, you know, I want you to tan with me.”

The great and constant challenge for any ministry in a blighted community, however, is not evangelism but discipleship. The difficult, long-term task is assisting our neighbors to unload decades of sin and sorrow. For this reason we began “Urban Hope NYC.” Our dream is that Urban Hope will be a sanctuary: a safe, sacred, enriching, encouraging and empowering place for every child and family in our community. We aspire to be the fence at the edge of the cliff instead of the ambulance at the bottom.

We have a full schedule: children’s discipleship, teen leadership development and community outreach ministry. There is always something wonderful going on at our after-school center. Every week we have music lessons, step dance, drama, a computer/homework center, Child Evangelism Fellowship and Metro Ministries Bible Studies and outreach events. Every summer we run a month-long, Christ-centered summer camp.

For all of our children’s ministries, we endeavor to hire junior high and high school “graduates” of our program as “street leaders,” serving as junior counselors, homework assistants and community peer leaders. The program is very costly, but it is one of the keys to the success of the ministry. One of the most vulnerable times in an inner-city child’s life is from ages 14 to 19. The typical “rebellious teenager” scenario that all parents struggle with to some degree is amplified when a child lives with a dysfunctional family, dwells in a high-crime community, is surrounded by negative peer influence and attends an overcrowded, highly immoral, gang- and drug dealer–saturated school.

After 15 years of ministry, it seemed like we were banging our heads against the wall when it came to the teenagers in our ministry. Rebecca and I had kids over to our house, threw them birthday parties, helped them build tree houses. But as soon as they turned 14, we lost them to the streets. The children we had nurtured were the ones who broke into our home, rifling through our bedroom in search of valuables. Many got killed or were involved in a life of drug abuse and crime; the girls got pregnant at 15 or 16. It was heartbreaking.

In our context, the cost of the street leaders program is minimal compared with the payoff. This simple strategy has enabled us to stay connected to our kids during their most difficult years. It has also borne great fruit for the whole program. As we enter our fourth year at Urban Hope NYC, many of our first campers are becoming street leaders. All of our younger kids look up to—and look forward to being—street leaders. Our street leaders in turn understand that they have a responsibility to be an example to the little ones. It has been a joy to see the step-by-step transformation of the beautiful children of our neighborhood.

There is so much more to be done. The housing projects of our cities are among the neediest mission fields in the world. I think of them as villages, filled with thousands of residents who are yearning for transformation. There are as well many godly families in these neighborhoods that are longing for a healthy alternative for their children. Again, the difficulty is not evangelism but that the enormous and heavy catch often breaks the nets.

Please join us in prayer as we envision children’s churches rising up in hundreds of housing project communities in New York City and throughout our nation. God’s promise to us throughout the years has been: “The desert and the parched land will be glad, the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (Isa. 35:1). We have great reason to rejoice as we watch our urban wilderness blossom and bloom. We rejoice in the mighty hand of God and in His great love.



A Graduate Student Speaks about His Master Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

View More: http://andresvalenzuelaphoto.pass.us/nyack_2015-2016As delivered at the Nyack College 2016 Commencement Brunch by Josue Miguel Calderon Gavilenez:

President Scales, members of the Board of Trustees, esteemed faculty and staff, honored guests, and fellow graduates, Good morning! I am humbled and feel honored to have the opportunity to share a portion of my experience as a student at Nyack College and Alliance Graduate School of Counseling (AGSC). Thank you, Dr. Scales, for inviting me to speak today.

It’s hard to believe that this journey began over seven years ago in the fall of 2009. I was a nervous 17-year-old seeking to pursue a bachelor’s degree in adolescent education in hopes of one day becoming a high school teacher. But, little did I know, God had a different plan for me.

My perspective here at Nyack is somewhat unique. I am a graduate of Nyack College, and later today I will also become a graduate of the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling. But since my very first days on this campus I have constantly heard the following words, “Share Your Story! Share Your Story!”

These words were spoken at chapels, in classes, in the resident hall meetings, at the library, in the cafeteria. Everywhere I turned, people were encouraging one another to share their stories. At first I wondered, Did I join a publishing school? What’s the big deal and what story should we be sharing?

As we all know, stories have two elements—a character and a plot. My seven years as a student at Nyack College and Alliance Graduate School of Counseling has been a process of getting to know the character and the plot of my story.

Throughout my first year at Nyack, I wrestled with knowing the character of my story, that character is me. One of the classes that provided space and resources for me to do that was Introduction to Spiritual Formation. Our professor asked us to complete one of the strangest assignments I had ever received. We were asked to make a mask where on one side we wrote or drew how other people perceived us and on the other side, write or draw how we really felt and saw ourselves. Completing the outside of my mask was easy. I grew up as a pastor’s kid, so I always knew what people thought of me, how they perceived me, whether I cared for their opinion or not. That’s part of the life of a pastor’s kid. It was the inside of the mask, however, that challenged me, and frightened me. There were things that only I saw that I was afraid to bring into the light.

In the middle of working on this assignment, I found myself at a chapel service where the preacher was talking about our identity in Christ and he asked “Who are you?” I quickly responded in my mind I am a pastor’s kid. I’m Latino. I’m determined. I’m the first in my family to make it this far in college. I’m a soon to be teacher. I’m a hard worker. And the list went on and on. That’s who made up my character…I thought. But, when that long list ended, I reached a void. And in that void was a 17-year-old wandering and seeking for the real answer.

Who am I? At that point in time, I remember hearing a gentle whisper, “You missed the most important one. You are a child of God. You are My chosen one. I love you, I made you, and your identity is in Me. None of that other stuff. Let Me show you who you are.” I left that service with an overwhelming sense to finish my mask and bring to the light those things that were hindering me from knowing who I was, and from telling my story.

In the following months and years to come, through my Spiritual Formation class, through classmates, friends, professors, counseling services, through the encouraging and safe campus community, I was able to learn more about my character and this process began to help me connect the pieces of my story and understand the plot of my story. For the first time in my life I was beginning to share my story, and was opening up about my anger and frustration with God, my anger and frustration with my family for feeling like I had competed with the church for their time and attention.

I opened up about my sin and struggles. I opened up about my addiction to busyness and to idolizing work. I opened up about living through abuse and dealing with constant fear, guilt, and shame. The process—of being broken, experiencing vulnerability, the process of uncovering my character, of understanding the plot and then sharing my story—was lengthy. And, it’s a process I am still going through and will continue to go through. But through that process I was also getting to know the Author of my story, I was beginning to accept His narrative. I was uncovering God’s unconditional love for me, His forgiveness, His grace, His favor, His redemption, His joy, His healing, His power, His freedom, His presence. I was uncovering and getting to know  Him.

I thank God for allowing me to be at a school like Nyack College and Alliance Graduate School of Counseling where personal transformation occurs, and where we are intentional about pursuing it. This makes us unique!

In the middle of this process, God was stirring my heart for ministry, something that I had been running away from. And so by my junior year I knew that God was asking me to serve Him, asking me to enter full-time ministry, and very hesitantly I switched from being an adolescent education major to being a pastoral ministry student with a concentration in counseling. An important part of the plot was being revealed. What I had experienced thus far, this process of personal transformation wasn’t just for me, but was also for the sake of others. My life experiences, both good and difficult, were so that I could serve others and help them through their journey.

So throughout my senior year, God was placing a heavy burden in my heart for pastors, missionaries, and their families. I knew I needed to be equipped to better serve them. With that in mind, I enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at AGSC. The Marriage and Family Therapy Program reinforced what I was learning about the plot of my own story and was emphasized through the following quote: “You cannot take others to places you are not willing to go to yourself.”

Through the last four years here, God has been refining and clarifying parts of the plot in my story that are yet to come. I envision establishing a ministry that offers workshops and provides tools that help church leaders to balance ministry and family life well; a ministry that counsels pastors, missionaries and their families in crisis; and owning a retreat center where pastors and missionaries can come to enjoy free vacation and spend time with their families.

I’m thankful for the faculty and staff of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program who have allowed me to share this burden with them, and who have encouraged me to dream, and to let God work outside the limits I set. The Marriage and Family Therapy Program has trained me to be a good listener, to ask the important questions, to view individuals with systemic lenses, to develop important clinical skills, but most importantly, they’ve trained me and other students to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those we counsel. Every class integrates faith and systemic-relational theory, spiritually with clinical skills, theology and science, in such a way that helps us grow to minister holistically. This unique setting and approach to education is what propels our institution to continue “preparing men and woman to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” I couldn’t have asked for a better place then Nyack College and Alliance Graduate School of Counseling to have spent such crucial and transformational years. Getting to know the character and Author of my story, understanding the plot and finding the freedom to share my story has been life-changing.

Thank you to all of you who support students like me through your financial donations and prayers. To the faculty, staff, administration, and trustees, your work does not go unnoticed. What you do is not in vain. Press on. You are making a difference in the kingdom, in our generation, and in the ones to come, so thank you! To my family, this journey would have been impossible to do without your constant encouragement, love, prayers, care packages, late night calls, and visits. Los amo mucho. And, most importantly, thank you Heavenly Father. You are so good, so faithful, and I’m so grateful.

Allow me to close by asking you some of the questions I’ve found helpful. What’s your story? How well do you know who you are as the main character? Do you know the plot the Author is writing? I pray you find your answers in Him. Then… share your story!

Blessings to you all! -Josue Miguel Calderon Gavilenez

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The Nyack Program: Woman Initiates its Sixth Class

It was the sixth time doing the same Woman Initiation Ceremony, but every year it’s different.

The first time, the small group of ten sat in a quiet semicircle, were initiated into the rite of passage, and met only two other times before their Crossing Over Ceremony! Last year, our largest class of twenty-six sat in rows with mentors behind them and alumnae ready to serve tea and cake. Our initiation celebration was followed by five meetings, and then a huge Crossing Over Ceremony at a new venue!

Abdallah.TheBookOfWomanhood.21344This year’s class of fifteen was initiated with their mentors and alumnae. The excitement was palpable as we invited them into Presidents’ Hall and guided them to their seats.

Each woman introduced herself and stated why she’s doing Woman. They smiled as they listened, already realizing the commonality they share, not only as Nyack College students, but also as women on the journey of womanhood. Their relationships will be deep.

The ceremony begins with a candlelighting that symbolizes the light of Christ and the union of our journeys for this year as we focus on what it means to be a Christian woman. We pray that God would guide us.

Perhaps my favorite part of the ceremony is when the leaders and the alumnae tell their own story about when they named themselves women and truly understood themselves as such. We leaders speak and tell our stories a little differently every time. And then the alumnae, some who are serving, and some who are acting as mentors, tell theirs as well. What rings out from those who participated in Woman in the past, is that being a woman is not about fitting into boxes. No, it’s about becoming who you were created to be. It’s about discovering who you are in the context of four relationships: with God, yourself, others, and creation, and moving forward in the way you were always designed to move forward.

Nyack College students join the Program WomanOne of the alumnae just graduated last year, one participated in Woman the year she turned forty, one has gone on a journey of physical and spiritual health which has involved the loss of weight and the gain of healthy eating, exercise, and self-talk habits. All tell their journeys of transformation in different ways. Last year, one alumna even stated that she wouldn’t be in her current job that she loved if she hadn’t done Woman.

This year, we plan to meet monthly, and participants will read a draft of The Book of Womanhood, meet with each other, and participate in various activities between our meetings. May this bring transformation for all of us as we continue on the journey of womanhood! 

At Nyack College, the Program Woman is about the rite of passage into womanhoodThe Book of Womanhood will be published in November by Cascade Books, and I am so happy to think that the metamorphoses through a rite of passage that have occurred in our community will soon bring hope to many others! It is my dream that groups like ours would spring up in various parts of the world as we come together to become who we really are. To God be the glory.

Young Alumni of the Year 2015 Create Play Against Sex Trafficking

Shadowed-Faces (1)Josh and Jaclyn graduated from Nyack College in 2009 and 2010, both in Cross-Cultural Studies. In 2010 as an extension of their Nyack College studies, Josh and Jaclyn wrote and produced a musical called The Voice that raised awareness about human trafficking and also raised funds for a C&MA safe house for survivors of sex trafficking in Spain. They took this production on tour during the summer of 2010 and raised over $21,000 for the safe house.  Josh and Jaclyn were married in May 2011 in Pittsburgh, PA. From 2012 to 2014, they had the opportunity to teach English in a private academy in South Korea. This experience strengthened their faith in God, their marriage and reignited their passion and calling to fight against the evil of human trafficking in Jesus’ name. In 2014, in South Korea, God opened the doors for Josh and Jaclyn to collaborate with talented musicians, photographers, videographers, producers and film composers from all over the world to create Shadowed Faces, under their band named Jax and the Beatfox. Shadowed Faces fuses video footage, drama, dance and modern music to create a musical production that exposes the evil of sex trafficking across the globe. They are currently touring the U.S. with Shadowed Faces to spur the Church towards action and to partner with churches and individuals as they prepare to serve with the C&MA through Marketplace Ministries in Cambodia in the prevention of human trafficking. Lord willing, Josh and Jaclyn and their growing family will be heading to Cambodia in late spring of 2016 to work alongside Agape International Missions and Marketplace Ministries, C&MA. You can check out their music and ministry information at jaxandthebeatfox.com or on social media.


The Nyack College Alumni Association Board created The Young Alumnus/ae of the Year Award as one of several that are presented at the Alumni Dinner during Homecoming Weekend. Recipients must be a graduate of Nyack College within ten years of the award presentation date. Individual or couple must embody the core values of Nyack College personally and professionally and have exemplified service, exceptional achievement, and significant contribution to society/humanity, community, or profession and potential for leadership or long-term distinction.

What Makes Nyack College Special?

From the thoughts and Facebook profile of Dan Bailey, Admissions Director for Rockland Campus:

I could tell you in a variety of ways but I will settle on this one story. It pretty much says it all.

Admissions CA Make the Day

The amazing Nyack women who did not let a stranger miss her life-changing opportunity, from left to right: Andrea Cuevas, Jackie Bourdett, kathryn Tamondong, Victoria Hummel, Shawnja Pratt.

[In June] several student employees within our Admissions office were working late, making phone calls and emailing prospective students.

A potential incoming student called saying she could not make her interview appointment for the next morning. She lived in Brooklyn and did not have any means of transportation. Her family did not have a car and according to the bus and train schedules, she would arrive more than an hour late.

More than feeling just a little dejected, this devastated Nyack hopeful, called to humbly forfeit the opportunity of a lifetime– an interview for a special program at our school. Her dream was all but over.

What she didn’t realize, though, was that in the room on the other end of the phone were a group of young ladies, all current Nyack College students who were not about to let that happen. No way. Love wouldn’t let them stand still. So they prayed but then they did more than that, they decided to become the answer.

Without hesitation, on their own time and volition, these 5 young women hopped in a car (yes, all 5) and drove from Nyack to Brooklyn that very night. When the prospective student’s grandmother answered the door, she was immediately overcome with emotion. I mean, who does something like this anyway? Nyack students do. It’s not a show either. We have no student incentive program. It’s totally organic. It’s real and this is just one story of many I could share from the last month alone.

I see this type of care between our students all the time. In essence, it’s the life of God finding expression through people who know His love personally and just can’t keep it to themselves. This was not a prospect they went to pick up. They were already looking out for their sister!

Upon arrival, “Team Nyack” explained the game plan in detail; they were going to drive their new friend to the campus, house her for the night in one of their own dorm rooms, take her to breakfast in the morning, have her in position for the 10AM interview and return her later that day, God willing, a full fledged Nyack College Warrior!

CTA button for Blog UGHugs were shared, tears were dried and the six of them were out in a flash. The mission was not yet complete.

Despite arriving to Nyack late at night, they were all happily at work by 8AM the next morning. Funny, how joy abounds when we live for others. I was introduced to the prospective student from Brooklyn completely unaware of how she got to our campus. I just remember her bright smile and thinking to myself, “How did she get to our campus this early?”

When I found out the whole story from one of our full time staff members, I was once again moved to tears.  It’s hard to explain but this kind if thing happens all the time. I just don’t have the time to celebrate all the stories.

So what about the student in question? Well, let’s just say a life was changed because a group of young women from Nyack College thought not of themselves and summer fun, but of someone else, someone they didn’t even know, who had a dream, but needed some help to make it come true.

I have no doubt, she will be someone who pays forward the blessing she received from 5 crazy young ladies who drove to Brooklyn and knocked on her door one late summer night- women she can now call friends.

That’s Nyack. That’s what makes us special. It’s always been that way. I pray it always will be. ‪#‎IAmNyack‬

Thank you Admissions team, full time staff and students alike for reminding me daily why I’m here.


Nyack College’s 2015 Valedictorian: From Guyana to Morgan Stanley

Nyack College is proud to announce our 2015 Valedictorian: Roxanne Caleb of Queens Village, New York.  She has worked at Morgan Stanley for over 28 years and this is her story:

I was born on September 22, 1958 in Georgetown, Guyana. I attended Bishops’ High School (the leading girls’ school) and graduated in 1976. In 1984, I immigrated to the United States of America. On July 14,1986, I joined Morgan Stanley (then Dean Witter) where I have worked for the past 28 years and 9 months. I worked in three departments, Data Entry, Margins and finally Legal and Compliance division where I have been a Compliance Officer for the last 21 years. Though I have a Series 3 license, which enables me to trade on the Futures Markets, I have only a high school diploma and job experience.

Roxanne Caleb ValedictorianIn Spring 2009, in response to the call of God, I entered Nyack College to obtain a degree in Pastoral Ministry. I was just past my 50th birthday and I had no idea what college entailed. Since I had been out of school for 33 years, I started with two classes, College Writing 1 and Old Testament. When I received an A in both classes, I asked God for four things.


  1. To keep my GPA of 4.0
  2. To glorify Him in my classes (attendance, attitude, quality of work etc.)
  3. To graduate with the highest honors (I found out later this was Summa Cum Laude)
  4. To be valedictorian.

As the years passed, one A- lowered my GPA, but several terms later it came back to 4.0 and I rejoiced. Then another A- lowered it. Now it is 3.99, not perfect but still great.

Roxanne at ChurchGod has blessed me from the inception of my college career. When I started school, I discovered that my company’s policy was to contribute a maximum of $10,000 per year to any undergraduate degree for employees of good standing. I have received $10,000 each year to defray the cost of school expenses. Though the money is taxed, whatever remains is more than I had and enabled me to complete school without needing private loans. Additionally, on at least five occasions my job has allowed me to leave to attend classes that start at 2.20pm. When I was in Harborside Financial Center, NJ, I had to leave at 1.30 to reach to the campus on Broadway. This was divine favor because none of these classes were secular. They were “Life of Jesus,” “Divine Healing,” “Intro to Global Engagement” etc. When the college moved to 2 Washington St, my CTA button for Blog UGjob location moved to 1 New York Plaza, a 10 minute walk away. Last semester, I left on Mondays for a 2.20pm class and on Wednesdays for an 11.00am class (I returned to work when it was over) and left at 5.00pm since my work was completed. This semester, I leave every Wednesday to attend a 2.20pm class on Intertestamental Literature.

Graduation is now in sight and I am excited to see how God has answered my prayers. Nyack College has been a joyful experience for me. My professors have poured into me and I have learnt a great deal and grown spiritually. I started Nyack just after my 50th birthday and will graduate just before my 57th birthday. It has been 6 ½ great years. Ironically, my bosses are also thrilled because I will have an undergraduate degree even though it is in Pastoral Ministry. God does choose the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.

Why I Joined the Program: Woman

A guest post by Emmaline Kempf, Senior at Nyack College, School of Music

Two years ago Dr. Amy Davis Abdallah asked me to participate in her program called Woman for that coming year. Unfortunately I was only a sophomore that year and the program was only designed for seniors. But I knew that it was something I wanted to do my senior year here at Nyack College.

View More: http://andresvalenzuelaphoto.pass.us/woman_2014-2015

Now I am a senior participating in the Woman program and I am so grateful for this experience! The outline of the program studies different aspects in a woman’s relationship with God, herself, others, and nature in growing through a journey of womanhood and calling herself a woman. Each woman in the group is required to have a mentor. Their mentor is there to actively push each woman to spiritual growth and discuss topics from the meetings and Dr. Davis Abdallah’s Book of Womanhod, and help the woman that they are mentoring to talk and work through struggles in her life. This has proved to be a big part in the aspect of spiritual growth and healing in my life.

In our monthly meetings we discuss what we read in The Book of Womanhood that month and get fed more deeply on these topics. The CTA button for Blog UGatmosphere is always comforting, knowing that all of the women are there for the same purpose, ready to open up and be blessed. We are always served tea and chocolate, which no one would ever turn down. The meetings often bring us to a point of sharing our struggles and successes on the topics we discuss. Then the leaders and the rest of the woman participants pray for us and bless us in these areas.

View More: http://andresvalenzuela.pass.us/woman2014Throughout the semester we are challenged with various assignments. During each month we meet with two other participants, get to know each other, and discuss questions in The Book of Womanhood, and meet with our mentors bi-weekly. We are presented with other tasks that pertain to the four relationships above. We had to spend eight hours in solitude with the Bible, a journal, and The book of Womanhood (if we so chose) in the Lord’s presence. This month we are required to interview four women that we admire and ask them questions on their view of being a woman and their journey of womanhood.

For those of you who are going to be a senior next year or in the years following, I encourage you to take this bold step and be a part of a group of women who want to see you grow in the Lord, in who you are, and to be a blessing to all who come in contact with you. You will not regret it!

Davis Aballah, Amy F. Book of Womanhood 2015. N.p.: n.p., 2014. Print.

What is the Book of Womanhood?

Written by Associate Professor of Theology and Bible at Nyack College, Dr. Amy Davis-Abdallah

View More: http://andresvalenzuela.pass.us/woman2014When Wanda Velez, Wanda Walborn, and I met in the fall of 2010 to plan a rite of passage for spring, 2011, I didn’t even dream that Woman would grow to be a year-long process, produce two journal articles and The Book of Womanhood (soon to be published by Cascade Books), and form a strong community of 20 mentors, 58 alumnae, and 26 current participants.

We started small! Women that I know and respect from varied backgrounds (ethnicity, age, marital status, etc.) gathered in my attic apartment to brainstorm what a Christian woman is, and those words created our intake survey. Ten participants completed the online survey, participated in a personal interview, and chose a mentor.

woman-138And the spring semester began with our first initiation ceremony! I was very nervous because I was sharing ideas and a process extremely close to my heart, only hoping that it would be life-changing for the participants.

We only met twice between the initiation and the final crossing over ceremony. But when I saw the women in their evening attire and heard them explain their projects that defined womanhood, I was floored by their transformation. I wrote “Development and Efficacy of a Rite of Passage for Women” and it was published in Religious Education in October 2012.

View More: http://andresvalenzuelaphoto.pass.us/woman_2014-2015And so it began. The next year, the process grew from ten participants to eighteen and from four meetings total to six. They still read Lisa Mcminn’s Growing Strong Daughters, but in addition to developing their relationship with self (body image, voice, and confidence), we also discussed relationship with God and with others. We studied the actions and character of biblical women, interviewed women we respect about womanhood, and made goals for moving toward interdependent relationships. That year, I wrote another article, “A Rite of Passage: Helping Daughters Reach Their Godly Potential,” published in Priscilla Papers winter, 2013.



View More: http://andresvalenzuela.pass.us/woman2014The third year of Woman was much like the first two, with one more meeting added as well as several activities that developed each woman’s relationship to creation. The fourth year (2013-2014), however, was pivotal for several reasons. Previously, the participants had included undergraduates and graduates, but this year, the lone graduate student asked for special permission to participate. And throughout the year, the women received chapters of the Book of Womanhood as I wrote it in the four sections that comprise our identity: relationship with God, with self, with others, and with creation.


View More: http://andresvalenzuela.pass.us/woman_2013-2014When we initiated the fifth class of Woman in October of 2014, I looked out into a sea of eager faces—with 26 participants, it is our biggest class yet! As part of the initiation, the leaders, now Wanda Velez, Christina Wolfe (an alumna), and myself, always tell the story of when we “owned” the name, “woman.” This year, we invited the mentors that are Woman alumnae to tell their story, too, and their testimonies of transformation because of Woman were fulfilling for me and exciting for all witnesses. They told the new participants that being a woman is a journey that is never completed, and that Woman would grow their voice and confidence. One even stated that she wouldn’t have the career she now enjoys if it weren’t for Woman. We look forward to more testimonies of transformation this year as we continue to meet!

Graduating 24 Prisoners from Fishkill Correctional

A guest post by Les Gilbert, Director of the School of Adult and Distance Learning

On January 22nd, I was honored to attend the graduation ceremony for the Nyack College adult students who reside at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Fishkill, NY. Twenty-four men changed their lives for the better by deciding to finish their bachelors’ degrees during their incarceration. The graduates and their family members celebrated that decision together on this special day.

fishkill graduation hudson linkThe School of Adult and Distance Education (SADE) at Nyack College has offered this program at Fishkill and other New York prisons for many years. And the results are impressive. The recidivism rate for people released from prison is a tragic 60 percent. But if an inmate earns a degree, that rate drops dramatically to a mere 1 percent. The Nyack College program is thus a major contributor to the community of New York.

It is difficult to express how inspirational these twenty-four graduates are. Nyack College President Dr. Michael Scales expressed our feelings well when he opened the ceremony by addressing the graduation class as follows: “I know you men wrote in your program that you were proud to be Nyack alumni now. But let me tell you that we, at Nyack, are the ones who are proud to be involved with you men.”

The degree completion program is a rigorous undertaking. And the core program is the same for everyone—no matter where one resides. To see the success of these inmates is not only exciting to witness but also truly matters in our world. You can see the joy on some of the faces of those in attendance here (Photos by Babita Patel).

Nyack College is privileged to work with Sean Pica and the entire team at Hudson Link, our partner and the catalyst of the program at New York correctional facilities. Nyack College plans to continue the partnership with Hudson Link and Fishkill Correctional Facility. If you would like to learn more about the program go to hudsonlink.org. If you would like to give to the program, go here.



Why There’s So Much to Be Thankful for at the Alliance Theological Seminary

It was finals week when Life at Nyack caught up with Ron Walborn, the Dean of the Alliance Theological Seminary.  He was relaxed and cheerful, not because his stack of grading was coming to an end.  He was cheerful because there was much to be thankful for and look forward to at Nyack’s ATS.

DMin students ATS

At the national seminary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Ron says there is “a vision to minister across denominational boundaries” and he is excited to celebrate many things in the New Year.  So what events are making Ron so happy?


Celebrating the continued growth of the Doctorate of Ministry Program

With over 100 pastors and leaders that represent over 36 countries, the DMin program is just over 3.5 years old.  It’s showing no sign of slowing down and only seems to grow with students coming from urban, suburban, rural and international backgrounds.  Ron believes that of all the strengths in the program, its students are one of the best.  Working toward the degree in cohorts, students learn directly from their peers by hearing about ministries already in action.  What is learned is directly and immediately applied.


Welcoming new faculty to the Alliance Theological Seminary

Often our alumni say that Nyack College and ATS are more like family than a school.  Like a family, we love to welcome new members!  This year, the school has brought on several new teachers including: Christopher Dost, Aaron Sherwood, Stanley John, and Louis Carlo.

“We have gifted, brilliant, intelligent people with the heart to pour into others.”  Ron knows that staff makes all the difference.  Great teachers create great leaders in their students.

CTA button for Blog ATS

Designing New Programs such as the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies

It’s still unofficial but the new graduate degree in Biblical Studies will be a 36-credit program online.  Ron is excited to finish the last details of the degree, which will be fully online.  He says it will be fantastic to have students from around the nation and the world in the ATS virtual classroom.  It’s about attracting and connecting, he said.  “Relocation to New York from California, Texas and Malaysia is not always possible,” but attending class online is not a problem.


Working with a new Associate Director for ATS Admissions

Julian Williams was “born in Texas and refined in California.”  When asked why he chose to come to Nyack, Williams stated that here is “the intersection of passion and opportunity.”  He left a dream job at Adventures in Mission’s “World Race” because he knew the Lord had more planned for him.  A casual conversation became a life changing moment and the catalyst to his new work as the associate director.  “At ATS, I see myself thriving academically and professionally.”


Being one of the Top 10 Evangelical Seminaries in the US

“It’s a best kept secret” said Ron.  The Alliance Theological Seminary continues to grow in an educational climate that challenges many programs at other schools.  Why is ATS different?

Ron proudly described the seminary’s humble roots.  The school was not founded to be a theological seminary alone.  Instead the institution was created to help people minister cross culturally, to “actively engage” and gain more than just “head knowledge and theology”.  The programs here are about leading students into the practice of missional living and training them as missionaries.  That is the difference and the reasoning behind the juxtaposition of anthropology and sociology with theology at ATS.

As our time with the Dean of ATS drew to a close, Ron focused for a moment on the overall importance of heart and head connections.  He emphasized again how important it was to nurture both the intellectual and the emotional needs of seminary students.  At the Seminary, “learning comes from the people sitting around you in the classroom.”  It comes from “students who are hungry and eager to learn and who already have ministries.”  As Ron Walborn concluded our time together, he stated that it is truly “amazing to hear about the different ministries already going on” and that it is a great joy to be part of Nyack College’s Alliance Theological Seminary.




National Movie Premiere by Nyack Alumnus: Ryan Walters

ryan waltersOn Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Nyack graduate Ryan Walters premieres his short film Going through the Motions which tackles the persistence of lukewarm Christianity.  After months of planning and prayer, the film releases to the public along with kits and materials to help churches and youth groups grapple with the idea that some Christians don’t truly and actively engage with what it means to be a follower of Christ.  Walters stated that he has a “holy discontent for lukewarm Christianity” and even though he hated writing, this passion “made it a favorite hobby.’  The hobby became a driving force in his life as Ryan began to write the script for his film.

So what does it take to write a script to a fantastic film?  And why does Walters say that he refuses to be a cliché?  We asked a few simple questions at the end of the year to help us understand Walters’ process better.

How did the idea for the film arise?

Ryan stated that he wanted to get people together and build passion around following Christ.  So he began with a slogan: “I refuse to be a cliché.”  Starting with youth groups, he had church members say the slogan over and over again.  This began the foundation of the film.

A year ago he wrote a blog post from which the film stemmed.  A deep thinker and blogger, Ryan’s website 98.6 Too Cold discusses the idea that thoughts and actions and faith can be tepid.  He questions how best to make a life as a Christ follower and says that the average human body temperature is actually lukewarm.  He writes that being lukewarm is not what we are meant to be.  “Because we need to set our hearts and lives ON FIRE for God!”

going through the motions

What makes this film experience different?

Walters stated on the film’s website: “At this moment, connections are being made through networking with churches and Christian colleges across the country. We’re praying for these groups to come alongside us and RSVP to be hosts for January 24th (a Saturday) for an hour and a half nationwide one-time event consisting of meet & greet/icebreakers, a six minute-film screening, follow up Q&A and discussion as well as a thirty minute live stream panel discussion on Google hangout.”

Pastors, bible study leaders and community group members are invited to RSVP and receive a package to help facilitate discussion.  The movie is not meant to be passively viewed but instead actively engaged with.  Donations of $95 are appreciated and are tax-deductible.  With an online ticket, participants will then be in contact with Going Through the Motions team in preparation for the night’s event on January 24.  All materials are mailed so please register and find out more details now.  Post-premiere, please call for special arrangements to host discussions around the movie.

CTA button for Blog UGFinal thoughts about his role as a thought leader?

Walters never considered himself a leader or an artist who would stand up and create something that would challenge all Christians to examine their lives.  He said that at Nyack College, he was given the opportunity and encouragement to step out of a passive role.  He was inspired by his teachers in social work and began a path of action.  This created the foundation for his role as a filmmaker.  “By the last week in September 2014, [Walters] began to live, eat and breathe the film.  It took a life of its own.”  Life is busy as he works in Seattle and prepares for the movie premiere with a cross-country team.  But he says “this is the season in my life to do what I am doing” and it has been an amazing journey of walking through production with prayer and creating a script based on action.

Reach out to Ryan via Facebook, Twitter and the official Going Through the Motions website.


Follow #NyackGlobal and See How Our Students Study Overseas

How many hashtags can promise to take you to another land?  Or can promise to show you life as a student overseas or can just show you the simple beauty of the Italian countryside?

This January, we invite you to join the adventures of our Nyack College students as they travel overseas during Winterim.  These young students will be headed to Mexico, Italy, and Israel and sharing their pictures and thoughts via the hashtag #NyackGlobal.  Follow their course work and service on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  Ask them questions or just think what college would be like if you had this opportunity!

A special thanks to these #NyackGlobal students who’ve promised to share pictures with us everyday!

oscar avila

Oscar Avila @oavila120

Rachel Kunker @Kunkistadorr

Rachel Kunker @Kunkistadorr

Kristi Moua @justIab 

Kristi Moua @justIab

Kassia Khuu @KassiaKhuu 

Kassia Khuu @KassiaKhuu

Wish them safe travels for the New Year and check in on their overseas adventures in international learning! Catch them also via #IAMNYACK #NyackWinterim #NyackCollege



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