After twenty-eight years of teaching at Northern Baptist Seminary, I will retire at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. My last official day as a member of the faculty will be June 30, 2017. On Friday, June 9, the seminary presented a special program in my honor in which present and former students, a colleague on the faculty, and a former president of the seminary spoke about my contribution to their lives and to the seminary. It was a humbling occasion for me because their words spoke to my heart; it was a very emotional occasion for me.
My ministry at Northern Seminary has been the greatest achievement of my academic career. During my tenure at Northern, I was blessed to serve with many colleagues whose devotion to their academic work, to their students, and to their disciplines inspired me to be a better professor. During the program, I expressed my appreciation to the late former president Dr. William R. Myers who brought me to Northern in 1988. Although I was unable to serve with him due to his retirement, Bill Myers continued to be a friend, a supporter, and an encourager until the day of his death.
I also expressed my appreciation to Dr. Ian Chapman, the former president of Northern Seminary under whose leadership I served for thirteen years. Dr. Chapman was a strong leader whose ministry at Northern made an impact in the life of the seminary. Dr. Chapman and I, together with a group of Northern supporters, went to Israel twice. During one of our visits to Israel, I had the opportunity to preach on Mount Nebo, the place where Moses saw the Promised Land. I also had the opportunity to baptize several people in the Jordan River. Before going home to Virginia, Dr. Chapman flew from Moscow to Chicago only to speak at my retirement program.
I also expressed words of appreciation and thanksgiving to my present and former students. Northern students have stimulated my growth as a professor by their participation in class dialogue, by their encouragement in and out of class, and by asking me difficult questions, questions that forced me to become a searcher for knowledge and new insights. My students challenged me to become a better teacher. I just hope I met their expectations.
I never thought I would teach at Northern for twenty-eight years. During these many years of serving the Lord at Northern, Northern has become my home, the members of the faculty and the staff have become my family, and my students, present and past, have become my friends. For all of these blessings I give thanks to God.
As I retire, Northern Seminary has become a brand-new institution. President Bill Shiell has challenged the seminary to become the New Northern with a ministry that will reach the greater Chicago area and the world through Northern Live. I will be writing about the New Northern in a forthcoming post. I wish I could be part of the New Northern to participate in the rebirth of the seminary as it reaches more students and as it extends its outreach beyond the Chicago area.
As I look back to almost thirty-five years of teaching the Old Testament, I want to thank my wonderful wife Donna, who was unable to be at the program. Donna and I have been together more than 50 years and she has been my biggest supporter and helper in my ministry as a pastor and as a teacher. I owe her a debt of gratitude. I also want to thank my three sons. I am a fortunate father because I have three wonderful sons who are always there to help me anytime I need their help. My sons have given me five beautiful granddaughters and one amazing great-granddaughter. My granddaughters make my life a joy because I receive their love every day.
As I come to the end of my active involvement as a member of the faculty of Northern Seminary, I want to thank President Bill Shiell for his visionary leadership, for his commitment to the faculty, staff, and students and for his love for the church of Jesus Christ. I also was to express my appreciation to Dr. Karen Walker Freeburg, Dean of the seminary, the wonderful members of the faculty, and the members of the Board of Trustees for the honor they bestowed on me on the occasion of my retirement, for their support, their encouragement, and their friendship. I will greatly miss the wonderful times we have spent together in fellowship serving the Lord through theological education.
Thank you for the memories.
Claude F. Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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