Increasing access for all students across disciplines and expanding the span of its mission, the Center for Transformational Leadership (CTL), formerly the Free Methodist Center, now operates under the leadership of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California Conference (FMCSC) and remains connected to Azusa Pacific University. The center, previously overseen by APU’s Azusa Pacific Seminary (formerly the Graduate School of Theology), continues its longstanding purpose—to strengthen and equip those called to serve God, the Church, and the world in the emerging generation continues. “CTL expands the practical mission of the Free Methodist Center and engages with the university as a whole to provide cross-disciplinary undergraduate internships and graduate fellowships, targeting placements in community development, local businesses and ministries, and the academy,” said T. Scott Daniels, Ph.D., dean of the School of Theology.
Serving as interim director, Chris Adams, Ph.D., APU’s associate campus pastor of community care, works with the FMCSC to engage the APU community in CTL’s work. Kelly Soifer, director of recruiting and leadership development, guides the process of mentoring Christ-centered leaders. That journey starts with the identification and referral of qualified interns who demonstrate leadership skills. Upon graduation, former interns may choose to serve as CTL fellows, leaders in their disciplines who transform their area into a mission field for the Gospel, spending at least nine months under the tutelage of a senior fellow. Once proven practitioners, they become senior fellows and reciprocate the mentoring they received by developing and training others.
Cory Louie ’12, a 2011 intern, gained practical experience as he pursued God’s call on his life. As a business and biblical studies major, he valued the structure of the internship and the flexibility to tailor it to his interests. “I participated in several administrative and management-oriented aspects of ministry, preached, and engaged in junior high and high school youth group activities,” said Louie. “The internship gave me experience in management and administration, as well as shepherding, teaching, and relationships.”
CTL’s emphasis on training Christian leaders dovetails with APU’s vision for developing disciples and scholars. The partnership, forged in 1965 when the Free Methodist Church shared in the growth of the university through the merger with Los Angeles Pacific College, strengthens the impact of both institutions. Joint efforts include multiple new and ongoing events such as co-sponsoring leadership training seminars, APU Clergy Care Day, and local, national, and global mobilization efforts that involve a partnership between Foothill Church and APU’s Center for Student Action, Mexico Outreach, and Center for Global Learning & Engagement programs. Through Explosion Juvenil, CTL reached 450 Latino students and parents from San Diego to Los Angeles last November, and February 21–22, 2014, 150 Free Methodist pastors and leaders attended a regional training seminar hosted at Foothill Church, with a reception at APU’s School of Theology.
By uniting university resources and the Free Methodist constituency in a way that magnifies both institutions’ goals to foster personal mentoring, vocational assistance, theological training, ministry opportunities, and intimate community, CTL and APU stand better equipped to prepare graduates for a lifetime of transformational Kingdom building. “The future of the Church depends on equipping leaders in every sphere of influence,” said Denny Wayman, FMCSC lead superintendent. “This multidenominational, multiethnic approach, strengthened by the affirmation of women in leadership, produces a synergy of ministry. It is only as the Church becomes holistic in its mission that we will be able to fulfill the great commission of our Lord.”