Farewell, Dr. Leonard

December 01, 2013

Leaving for Full-time Pastorate

Rev. Dr. John Leonard, associate professor of practical theology, has stepped down from his role as professor at Westminster in order to continue work as a full-time pastor at Cresheim Valley Church. We are very sad to see Dr. Leonard go, but are happy that he will continue to serve the Lord and his people as a pastor.

See below an interview with Dr. Leonard and comments from his colleagues.

An interview with Dr. Leonard

With heavy hearts, the Westminster community says farewell to Rev. Dr. John Leonard, associate professor of practical theology.  On December 31, Dr. Leonard will leave his role as professor at Westminster in order to take on a full-time role as pastor of Cresheim Valley church in Chestnut Hill.

Dr. Leonard came to Westminster in 1998 as a resident scholar, and was hired as associate professor the following year.  Dr. Leonard fondly remembers his time with students and faculty, but also, he says, “That first year, 1998, I got to spend some time with Harvie Conn which was a wonderful experience.”

Seven years ago, Dr. Leonard planted a church in the Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, Cresheim Valley Church (PCA). After many years of serving as a part-time pastor for the church, his responsibilities for both grew. After some time, he says, “I wanted to be fair to both my church and seminary; I couldn’t do both.  I felt that the church needed me more than the seminary needed me.”

Dr. Leonard’s primary focus while teaching at Westminster was to further the missions program, started by Harvie Conn and Manny Ortiz. As he transitions into a full-time role at Cresheim Valley, he will continue in that focus. His prayer for his church is that they learn “how to engage our culture with the gospel in such a way that captures the hearts and minds of men, and that we are able to make Christianity compelling again, so people see in us a real alternative to secularism; a vibrant community of Christians who present and model another way of living.”

Dr. Leonard’s hope for Westminster is that it would be able to “identify the right kinds of people to develop a missions program that will address the pressing needs to the 21st century in missions, and that it would be able to reestablish itself as a cutting-edge institution with the highest caliber of missiologists who think about how to reach the world for Christ.”

Please pray for Dr. Leonard and Cresheim Valley Church that they “would be able to see God work profoundly in the lives of men and women” in the Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy area.

Comments from colleagues:

John Leonard is a pastor's pastor! He has the gift of caring, preaching, evangelizing, and sustaining it all with scholarly research.  I am also very grateful for the substantial contribution he's made into the lives of student interns as well as several pastors in our Doctor of Ministry program at Westminster.
Dr. Peter Lillback, president of the seminary

I have had the privilege of working closely with John in the practical theology department for the past 14 years. He has done a great job not only in our M.Div. program but also as he has led our Doctor of Ministry program. I have always been impressed by his variety of interests and talents including bow hunting and fishing. I have been especially fascinated by his trips to Florida to “free dive” for lobsters (still waiting for my lobster dinner, John!). His real passion is introducing others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and striving to stir up that same passion in students and colleagues. For John all of this is not just theoretical but he has put it into practice in planting Cresheim Valley PCA. Granted, he is outspoken at times, but this is an asset as he engages the culture with the Gospel. He and his dear wife Christy are a powerhouse of blessing to those they serve and I am so happy that they will be nearby to minister to our students and the communities of Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.
Dr. Timothy Witmer, professor of practical theology

John Leonard combines a rare set of gifts and passions. He loves his family: Christy and their three over-talented daughters. He has the heart of an evangelist. He rarely passes up an opportunity to explain the Gospel to someone, whether a passer-by or a long-term friend. He is also a true shepherd. He pastors God's flock in Cresheim Valley with love and care for each soul. John not only thinks and writes about multi-ethnic community but puts it into practice in the movements he leads. His students at Westminster and around the world will attest to being better ambassadors of the Gospel thanks to their training with John. Although we will sorely miss him, he just needed to be in full-time practice. We wish him and Christy godspeed.
Dr. William Edgar, professor of apologetics