Rod Light | July 27, 2020

Spring 2020 marks the tenth anniversary since the beginning of the MASL program with a program-record 41 graduates receiving their degrees.

Forty-one Life Pacific University students graduated this year with a Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership, a record number of MASL graduates since the program’s inception ten years ago. Our most recent graduates met as strangers when they began the program, but soon learned the value of personal networking with an exemplary cohort of diverse yet like-minded professionals.

This is their story.

“The MASL program reinvigorated an innovative approach and outlook on how to do church in our current culture,” 2020 graduate Molly Cooke of Oregon says. “The infusion of creativity, challenge, and networking relationships that I experienced from the program was exactly what I needed after serving in ministry for 25 years.”

MASL students study theoretical and practical approaches to strategic leadership, according to the stated values of the program, in hopes of “preparing students for today’s changing and fast-paced ministries, business and social environment.”

Another 2020 MASL graduate, Theo Nayagam, lives and works in New Zealand, a beautiful nation that he describes as diverse and multicultural with a population of five million that have largely moved away from the faith. Theo credits the MASL program with preparing him to successfully develop pastors in New Zealand by providing foundational ingredients of learning that challenged him to growth in every area of his leadership.

Brenda Kean of Kenya says the MASL program was “a powerful way to look with fresh understanding both from a business and ministry perspective, developing strategic insight that is relevant for today and for the future.” Like other members of her cohort, and others who have completed the program over the past decade, Brenda says, “one of the biggest takeaways for me was that the change I desire begins with me.”

LPU Associate Dean for Leadership Studies and MASL Program Director Remi Lawanson acknowledges the partnership of Foursquare District Supervisors who promote and participate in the MASL program. Remi is also keenly aware of the significant contribution of MASL faculty describing them as “scholar-practitioners and high-level capacity leaders.”

In the first year of the program, 32 students completed their degree and MASL Professor and Gateway District Supervisor Sam Rockwell was there, pouring his life and experience into students that he says are “curious, conscientious, and creative.” He believes their collective experience is greater than the sum of the program’s parts. “It’s not just the knowledge acquisition, it is the powerful community of learning they create among themselves,” Sam says.

Few institutions draw students like this, says MASL Professor A.J. Swoboda. “The professors and faculty in the program regularly experience – year after year – the feeling of profound gratefulness for having the chance to serve them.” Echoing similar sentiments, Professor Jan Spencer affirms the caliber of students drawn to the MASL program adding that their level of dedication is a benefit not only to the students but also to the workplace, the Church, and the communities where the students work.

Rick Bick from Iowa is the self-proclaimed oldest MASL graduate who completed the program this year. He says his eyes were opened to many new and exciting ideas about church leadership. Although the classes were challenging, Rick says he is already applying the principles he learned in his current ministry assignment.

Students represent a wide range of experience and that is one of the benefits for each cohort – everyone brings a unique perspective and thought process to the table. They live and work in diverse parts of the world and can speak to perceptions about their learning and application of principles in ways that others may not otherwise experience.

Hailing from Colorado, 2020 graduates Adriana and Angel Cavazos can’t say enough about how the program helped them as leaders and as a couple. “We were challenged to think about leadership the way God thinks about it,” Angel says. “The scholarly material coupled with the Holy Spirit’s leading made the MASL program a great investment for us.”

Mike Scott from California feels fully equipped after the MASL program to step back into a ministry role after taking a break from vocational ministry. He says the resources, discussion, and learning he experienced in the program have given him a new perspective and sharpened skills. Elwin Ahu from Hawaii says the program helped him effectively respond to God’s call to spiritual leadership and says he gained critical components for life and ministry through his graduate education at LPU.

As a new academic year begins this fall, Remi is excited to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the MASL program and a record number of graduates. He is excited to see a growing interest in leaders who want to take their skills and understanding to yet another level.

To learn more about the MASL program, visit


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