Village University


Transforming Lives by Renewing Minds


Special Note: It’s not too late to join us for our 2019 Israel trip! See below under “Learning Trips” for more info.

What is VU?

VU is our formal program of adult education at Village. We are serious about the life of the mind and the indispensable role its development plays in our spiritual growth. We believe cultivating a culture where rigorous thought and civil discourse is valued is all part of “loving God with all of our minds” (Mk. 12:30). But our goal is not purely intellectual. Rather, it is to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2), to think differently so as to live differently. Towards that end, we offer a variety of rich, high-level classes and other educational programming throughout the year.

Educational Offerings

VU encompasses a number of instructional opportunities at Village, falling into three categories: academic training, personal development, and learning trips. The heart of our academic training is our online certificate program, offered through a partnership with Kilns College ( Beyond this we also offer traditional on-campus classes, special seminars, and Critical Conversations forums. Our personal development offerings consist in classes and seminars focused on specific, practical life skills or stages of life. And finally our learning trips invite you to travel the world on guided tours of destinations with rich spiritual and historical significance. For more info on all of these offerings, click on the appropriate drop-down section below.

Classes (Online Certificate) - Winter Term 2019 (Feb-Apr)
The heart of VU is its online certificate program, provided through a partnership with Kilns College ( We currently offer a track consisting of the following 5 classes:
Theological Foundations (Vincent Bacote)
Character, Virtue, and Wisdom in Leadership (AJ Swoboda)
Theology of Justice (Ken Wytsma)
Religious Cultures of the World (Michael Caba)
Christian Hospitality in an Age of Division (Brant Himes)
Select classes are offered each term, each involving online lectures, reading assignments, and on-campus or online group chat discussion meetings led by a qualified facilitator. All classes require registration and have a registration fee (plus costs for books and/or other supplementary materials). Limited need-based scholarships are available. Due to the online nature of these classes, students must also have high-speed internet access with quality video chat capabilities.
Please see below for our Winter 2019 classes. 

Theological Foundations

Instructor: Dr. Vincent Bacote
Facilitator: Pastor John Kwak
Online Meeting Time: Thursdays, 7:00-8:15 pm
Online Meeting Dates: 2/21, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4, 4/18, 5/2
Required Opening Session: Sunday 2/3, 12:45-2:00 pm (Willamette A)
Cost: $99 plus the cost of books. (Limited need-based scholarships available.)

This course introduces students to the range of Christian beliefs (doctrines), their biblical basis and some of the prominent historical figures and/or traditions. The class will also consider the relationship between Christian faith and public engagement, with the aim of helping students to develop the ability to make thoughtful and clear connections between doctrine and practice.

To see the full class syllabus, click here. The required course texts (which students are to purchase on their own) are:

* The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life, Vincent E. Bacote
* Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples, Michael Horton
* Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed, Elizabeth Phillips

Registration is closed

Character, Virtue, & Wisdom in Leadership

Instructor: Dr. A.J. Swoboda
Facilitator: Shawn Lorenzen
Online Meeting Time: Mondays, 7:00-8:15 pm
Online Meeting Dates: 2/25, 3/18, 4/8, 4/29
Required Opening Session: Sunday 2/3, 12:45-2:00 pm (Willamette A)
Cost: $99 plus the cost of books. (Limited need-based scholarships available.)

This course looks at the heart of leadership. Character, Virtue and Wisdom has long been seen as necessary foundations for lasting and effective leadership. Students will be exposed to historic and philosophical thinking on the connections between virtue and leadership as well as explore the deep biblical connections between character and leadership. This course is also designed for self-exploration and assessment whereby students can identify and focus on areas of strength and weakness in their own leadership styles. Because of the theological nature of the program, classical approaches to character and virtue and their modern interpreters will be brought into conversation with Jewish and Christian sources, both academic and biblical.

To see the full class syllabus, click here. The required course texts (which students are to purchase on their own) are:

* Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, Gary L. McIntosh & Samuel D. Rima
* Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
* Courage & Calling: Embracing Your God Given Potential, Gordon T. Smith
* A Glorious Dark, A.J. Swoboda
* The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, Dallas Willard

Registration is closed

Classes (Non-certificate and Personal Development) - Winter Term 2019 (Feb-Apr)
In addition to our online certificate track classes, VU also offers high quality, traditional format classes on campus, open to all. Classes range the gamut of Christian thought, from those more academic and theological to those more focused on areas of personal development. All classes are offered on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings. (Nursery care is available during all class times, plus regular Children’s church programming on Sundays, and Awana on Wednesdays.) These classes often feature local faculty from Portland Seminary at George Fox University ( and Western Seminary ( as visiting lecturers. Registration required, plus the cost of materials.
Please see below for our Winter 2019 classes. 

Creation, Science, and God

Instructor: Pastor John Kwak
Section 1: Sundays, 9:00-10:15 am
Section 2: Sundays, 10:30-11:45 am
Location: Willamette A
Start Date: Feb. 3
Length: 10-11 weeks
Cost: None, though please purchase The Case for a Creator, by Lee Strobel on your own.

In this class we will consider the relationship between science (and philosophy) and belief in God, particularly as it relates to cosmological origins, the physical suitability of the universe for sustaining life, and biological origins and complexity of life on Earth. Does what science has to say on these subjects create problems for belief in God, or help bolster it (or neither)? Are science and faith fundamentally at odds, mutually supportive, or simply irrelevant to each other? In engaging these topics and questions we will discuss the big bang theory, the observation of an apparently “fine-tuned universe”, and general scientific methodology. We will also distinguish and explore views like creationism, intelligent design, and theistic evolution. The discussion and readings will be rigorous, but we welcome all, whether having a background in science or not.

Registration is closed

Achieving Financial Peace

Instructor: Paul Davison & David Robinson
Time: Wednesdays, 6:45-8:00 pm
Location: Columbia B
Start Date: Feb. 6
Length: 11 weeks
Cost: $99 per family (Participant’s kits will be handed out at the first class.)

Do you desire to be a good manager (steward) of your money, but have questions, concerns or doubts about how to do so? Using Dave Ramsey’s well-known Financial Peace University video series together with class discussions, this class will present biblical, practical steps to show you how to get rid of debt, manage your money (so it stops managing you), spend and save wisely, prepare for big purchases, save for retirement and college, and more. Attendees should plan on spending two hours a week on homework, including watching an online video at home to prepare for each lesson.

This class has been cancelled

Special Seminars
VU offers a variety of intensive Special Seminars throughout the year. These sessions provide prime learning opportunities for folks with limited time to quickly go deep in a given area.

Your Work—More than just a Paycheck?

Speaker: Scott Rae
Meeting Date: Friday, Sept. 6, 2019
Meeting Time: 6:30-9:00 pm
Cost: none

Workplace satisfaction is at an all time low in the US–with roughly 2/3 of employees either disengaged from their work or actively undermining their organizations. Many people in our culture view their work as a necessary grind in order to pay their bills and finance their lives. Many Christians in the workplace are working as hard as they can to make as much money as fast as they can so that they can retire as soon as they can–and do something else with their lives that they believe is more meaningful. Think about how your view your work? More importantly, how does the Bible view your work? Join us for a day to look into the bible and see what it says about your work–you know, the thing you spend most of your waking hours doing! We think you’ll hear some surprising things about your work, and we hope you’ll be challenged to think differently about it.

Register HERE

Critical Conversations Forums
Critical Conversations forums are designed to foster civil but meaningful, robust dialogue in weighty and often polarizing areas of spiritual and societal import. In these forums we together pursue real learning anchored in real Christian love and respect for people of diverse perspectives.
More info on our next forum to come soon!
Learning Trips
Village University offers exciting study-oriented trips which combine the opportunity to both travel and learn all at once! Potential destinations include domestic and foreign locales, all with rich spiritual, historical, and cultural significance. These experientially-based learning tours will be expert-led to ensure high-level education, incorporate fun sightseeing opportunities, and are offered, on average, every other year. See below for current trips on offer.

A Peacemaking Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Israel)

Date: Oct. 19-30, 2019
Questions: Please contact Leslie Erickson

Join us on a unique pilgrimage to the Holy Land exploring the Christian faith in the Israeli-Palestinian context. On this delegation, we will hear from a wide spectrum of voices across Israeli and Palestinian society. We will visit ancient holy sites as well as experience the vastly different realities of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities in the midst of a conflict zone, and learn how those differences present both opportunities and obstacles for peacemaking.

This trip is first-come, first-served and space is limited to 30 persons, with a place-holding deposit due by Apr. 10, 2019. For more detailed information, including itinerary and pricing, please click here. To submit your name and hold your spot, please e-mail Leslie Erickson at [email protected].

Interested in a Master's Degree?
VU has established formal partnerships with two outstanding local Christian schools: Portland Seminary at George Fox University ( and Kilns College ( Through these partnerships Village benefits through greater access to high quality local faculty while these schools benefit through increased visibility for their top notch programs. Individuals who complete VU’s certificate program but remain hungry for further education are encouraged to consider pursuing a Master’s degree at one of these schools. (Certain certificate track courses may count towards degree requirements.) We will help you figure out which school and program are best for you!

To see a list of past VU classes and seminars

Click here