What It Means

To Be Equipped

What It Means To Be Equipped

Marvin A. McMickle, PhD

In his book Fling Open the Doors of the Church, Paul Nixon states that he “graduated from seminary in 1986 equipped to do ministry in 1976…The trouble was that we were now racing toward 1996.” Such an outcome is a waste of time and money because outdated seminary training did not equip him to do ministry in the world today. The German theologian, Paul Tillich while speaking specifically about preaching, made an observation that applies just as well to all forms of Christian ministry: “Preaching must always be done with an awareness of the present moment.”

Graduates from Ashland Theological Seminary are equipped to do just that: engage in ministry with an awareness of the present moment. The lectures, reading assignments, class discussions, chapel services, and informal student interactions work together to shape the hearts and minds of students. Whether you go on to become a pastor, denominational leader, chaplain, head of a non-profit agency, or committed lay leader, we equip you to serve as salt of the earth, light in the world, and a prophetic presence in this country at a time when the call for justice and righteousness is sorely needed.

How does such equipping occur? The answer comes in the form of a curriculum designed to offer broad training in a variety of academic disciplines. As a result, graduates are thoroughly prepared for the work ahead. Take the image of the apostle Paul sitting in prison in the city of Ephesus while guarded by a Roman soldier. Paul observed the various items designed for physical warfare worn by that soldier, and he adapted them into weapons of spiritual warfare. There was the belt, the breastplate, the sword, the shield, the helmet, and the shoes. Paul then added the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. When taken together, Paul said that Christians have everything they need to live faithfully in the world.

Students at Ashland Theological Seminary learn to shape and form their faith first by studying biblical texts proficiently like the one in Ephesians 6. Students learn to read a biblical text in its original, historical, and cultural context. They learn to place one text in the context of the whole Bible. Students also learn how to use the biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek, to more accurately understand the messages of Scripture. In addition, they learn how to adapt those ancient texts into sermons, Bible studies, denominational literature, and other forms of communication that are challenging and relevant for their unique church settings in the 21st century.

Seminaries like Ashland Theological Seminary equip students to think critically about matters of faith. The very best seminaries do not tell their students WHAT to think. Instead, they train and equip students HOW to think in ways that are informed by scripture, theology, church history, ethics, and pastoral care. The very best seminaries are also places where racial, gender, denominational, and age diversity are present in the classroom, on the faculty, on the list of assigned readings, for students, in the administration, and on the Board. At Ashland Theological Seminary, we equip our students with the tools they need to take informed theological positions.

The Association of Theological Schools, an external accrediting agency, regularly monitors our school to ensure we are properly equipped to teach with excellence. This means we are accountable to an outside organization to properly govern our school with input from alumni, donors, current students, faculty, trustees, and community partners. Working with this accrediting agency also ensures we have a solid financial base to provide financial support for students and competitive salaries for faculty and staff. In order to uphold high accreditation standards, our library and technology resources provide students access to cutting-edge scholarships on campus or through distance-learning platforms. In light of our accreditation, you can be confident that attending, providing financial support, or hiring Ashland graduates is a worthwhile investment. 

Ashland Theological Seminary is equipped so it can equip students to go into the world and equip other people to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ in ways that are always mindful of the present moment.

About the Author,
Marvin A. McMickle, PhD

Professor Emeritus in Homiletics

Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1948, Dr. Marvin A. McMickle is a 1970 graduate of Aurora University in Illinois with a B.A. in Philosophy. His alma mater also awarded him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1990. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1973 and did two additional years of graduate study at Columbia University in New York. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey in 1983. He was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in 1998. He was also awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio in 2010. 


He was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1973 at Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City where he served on the pastoral staff from 1972-1976. He served as the pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church of Montclair, New Jersey from 1976-1986. He was pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio from 1987-2011. During that time, he led the church in establishing a ministry for people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This ministry was the first of its kind in the entire country. The church also instituted a community tithing initiative in which the church tithed out 10% of its annual budget to various community programs and agencies. Dr. McMickle was named Pastor Emeritus in 2018. He became Interim Pastor in May 2020. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Cleveland State University in Cleveland, OH, president of the Cleveland NAACP and Urban League, and president of the Shaker Heights Board of Education.


Dr. McMickle was the Professor of Homiletics at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio from 1996-2011. Upon retiring he was named Professor Emeritus by the Board of Trustee and the faculty. He is the author of 18 books. He has authored dozens of articles that regularly appear in professional journals and magazines. He is a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. In the winter semester of 2009, he served as a Visiting Professor of Preaching at Yale University Divinity School. He was also an adjunct instructor at Princeton, New Brunswick, and New York theological seminaries.


Dr. McMickle served as the 12th President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School from July 2011 to June 2019. 


He is an active member of the Progressive National Convention and American Baptist Churches (ABCUSA).He is also a Life Member of Kapa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a member of Sigma Pi Phi.


Dr. McMickle has been married to Peggy Lorraine Noble since 1975 and they have one son, Aaron who resides in New York City with his wife Pilar and their two daughters Aaliyah and Lola.

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