Leading theologian and worship pastor joins Southern faculty

Communications Staff — June 19, 2019

Matthew Westerholm, a gifted theologian and worship pastor, is joining The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as the Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced today.

Westerholm will continue Southern Seminary’s rich legacy of training men and women for music and worship ministry. Weeks after the seminary announced Matt Boswell’s hire to the Department of Biblical Worship, the addition of Westerholm highlights the seminary’s commitment to train faithfully the next generation of theologically sound worship leaders.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Westerholm will also serve as Executive Director for the Institute for Biblical Worship and provide vision for numerous musical groups at the school.

He brings with him extensive experience as both a worship pastor and a scholar in church music. For the last five years, Westerholm has been the pastor for music and worship at the downtown campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Previously, he was the worship pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, for a decade.

Westerholm also is a seasoned professor in Christian worship and has dedicated his professional career to teaching men and women how to create and perform music for the local church. He was Assistant Professor of Music and Worship at Bethlehem College and Seminary, and previously led the worship arts program at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as its director. He also served as dean of chapel at Cornerstone. He will work in a similar capacity at Southern Seminary, planning and organizing music in Southern chapel services.

“The addition of Matthew Westerholm to our faculty is remarkable good news – that a man of his ability, passion, and experience will be in the classroom shaping the next generation of godly worship leaders for our churches,” Mohler said. “He is both a theologian and a musician and his vast experience will be invaluable to our students. I love his heart for worship that exults in the supremacy of God and his theology of music in service to the church. He is exactly what we need as Southern Seminary prepares for the future even as we are faithful in the present.”

Westerholm earned his doctor of philosophy in Christian worship from Southern Seminary. He also has a master of arts in systematic theology from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and a bachelor of arts in church music from Trinity International University.

“It’s an amazing privilege to join the faculty at Southern Seminary,” Westerholm said. “I am convinced that people are starving for the greatness of God, and I think corporate worship in the local church is one of the places where needy people experience the supremacy of God and find what their hearts have been built for.

“Southern Seminary is not just one of the largest seminaries in the world, but it is also one of the most convictional seminaries. It has broad appeal to a wide number of people, but it is also profoundly guided by its convictional identity. I look forward to the opportunity to impact students with the profound truth of the Bible.”

Westerholm’s academic work has been published extensively in publications like Themelios and Puritan Reformed Journal, and he has presented at such organizations as the Evangelical Theological Society, The Gospel Coalition national conference, and Doxology & Theology. His popular writing has appeared on Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition websites.

According to Matthew J. Hall, provost of Southern Seminary, Westerholm’s experience makes him a perfect addition to one of the leading doctrinally centered worship programs in theological education.

“For decades, Southern Seminary has been at the forefront of training and equipping ministers and musicians for service in the local church as well as leading scholars in the field,” Hall said. “That legacy is stronger now than ever before. The addition of Dr. Matthew Westerholm to the faculty is at precisely the right time. Dr. Westerholm is a proven and gifted pastor, musician, and theologian with broad influence in the field of biblical worship.”

Paul Akin, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, added that Westerholm exhibits a combination of skills and passions that is “rare” in Christian higher education.

“Dr. Westerholm is a theologically minded musician with pastoral experience and a missionary heart. That combination and gifting is rare. Dr. Westerholm is a key addition to the Billy Graham School faculty and will help us train and send out the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders from Southern Seminary. We are grateful for God’s abundant provision and grace in bringing Dr. Westerholm here to serve in this capacity.”

Westerholm is married to Lisa, and the two have three sons.

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