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Friday, June 21, 2024

IWU names new dean of Wesley Seminary

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When Abson Joseph begins his post as the new dean of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University on Jan. 1, he knows he will have a trusted companion and peer by his side.

Joseph, a professor of New Testament and biblical languages at Indiana Wesleyan, is excited for his promotion and the chance to shape what students will be taught at the school for years to come. 

“This gives me the opportunity to craft curriculum and assessment work, helping people not just here but internationally and globally as well. It’s an honor and a privilege to participate in serving people that way, shaping what the future will be and giving people interested in ministry a chance to acquire the tools to do what they do well,” Joseph said. 

Joseph, who was born in Haiti, said he was sick when he was young and God answered his parents’ prayers to preserve him. He grew up with knowledge of the Bible and understood God wanted him to do something with his life. It wasn’t until he participated in a conference just as he finished the equivalent of high school that he got a call to ministry. He originally thought he wanted to be an architect.

“It was then that God told me he wanted me to build lives, not buildings,” he said. 

In his first year of seminary, he met Larisa Levicheva, who would become his wife. They met and, as Joseph said, quickly fell in love. Levicheva was in her last year at seminary and then left to teach for two years at Wesleyan Bible College in Vladimir, Russia. The two knew their futures were together, however, and since Levicheva specialized in the Old Testament, Joseph studied the New Testament of the Bible so their ministries could complement each other. 

“We’ve always seen our ministries as one,” Joseph said. “We have similar visions for seeing God’s work done and that people are trained to be the best ministers they can be.” 

Levicheva said she was proud of what Joseph has accomplished and said they work so well together because of the two years they spent apart while Joseph was finishing seminary and she was in Russia.

“This was before Skype, so all we had was phone conversations,” Levicheva said. “We learned early on that whenever we had disagreements we had to hear each other and not project onto the other person. Just because we had disagreements of opinion, that wasn’t an attack on us. Who we are as professionals and what our relationship is were two different things, and we learned to express opinions in a loving and respectful manner.” 

Joseph said he has a vision to make Wesley Seminary not just the best in Indiana, but one of the best in the world. 

“For pastors that are called to ministry, we want them to come and leave transformed by the academic rigor and depth of understanding the Bible,” Joseph said. “We want them transformed by theology and having encountered God and grown in their own walk with God and their spiritual life.” 

Joseph said he is a little nervous to be starting this new position of great responsibility, but he finds confidence in the fact he is sure God has called him to his post, and he’ll have a great support from people around him, including his wife.

“I know He will empower me and I can rely on people around me, the faculty, staff and my friends that have come before me,” Joseph said. “I look forward to helping them and learning from them. I think we will learn from each other.” 

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