Rod Light | February 24, 2016

LPC graduate students Jen Wright, Alaba Obiri, and Pat Zimmerly share a common interest of furthering their education by earning a master’s degree in strategic leadership. They come from varying backgrounds, find themselves at different stages of life, and live and work far from one another in the U.S. and Canada, but the MASL program has brought them together, is enriching their lives, and fulfilling their dreams.

The LPC Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership (MASL) program is bringing together students hoping to earn a graduate degree, many of them after many years outside the higher education arena. Many people see grad school as mountains of paperwork and impossible reading assignments, but students who join an LPC cohort have a different story to tell.

Take for instance, people like Jen Wright, Alaba Obiri, and Pat Zimmerly. Like LPC graduate students before them, these adult learners are connecting online and in person with a specific cohort of learners discovering truth about God, themselves, and people around them. And, they are also doing lots of reading, research, and writing, too.

Perhaps most important though, Jen, Alaba, and Pat are fulfilling a dream God has placed in their hearts to earn a graduate degree and advance their understanding of leadership for ministry and the marketplace.

Most of the MASL program is accomplished online allowing adult learners with families or careers the opportunity to study from their homes or offices. On-campus residencies twice during the program ensure that members of a cohort stay connected with one another and their instructors during their two-year programs. Residencies bring together new students entering a cohort as well as students of a returning cohort (at the one-year/halfway point in the program), and are held at San Dimas, Calif., Denver, Colo., or Christiansburg, Va.

Alaba Obiri, who is senior pastor of Freedom Life Foursquare Church in South Houston, Texas, appreciates the flexibility of the LPC MASL program that allows him to pastor and earn a graduate degree at the same time. He also finds the residency week valuable describing it as, “remarkably refreshing,” especially for students who may have been away from the academic community for a while.

“The weeklong residency program is specially designed with such depth, content and flavor to give a good understanding of the value and demand of the work without intimidating the mostly adult students,” Alaba says.

The January 2016 residency marked the launch of the first MASL Lecture Series, with guest lecturer and LPC Board Chair Dr. Michael Whyte, Provost Emeritus and Professor at Azusa Pacific University presenting a lecture called, “Leadership Transition: Succession, Sustainability, Strengthening and Expansion.” MASL faculty and staff joined Dr. Whyte for a power-packed week of instruction, interaction, and inspiration as students got fired up for a new year of their respective programs.

Jen Wright, lead pastor at Open Door Foursquare Church in Surrey, BC, appreciates the diverse blend of students in her cohort, comprised of eight women and eight men with ages ranging from 20s to 60s. The cohort includes full-time pastors, bivocational pastors, chaplains, and other students who are employed in the business world, according to MASL alum, Beth Mead, who serves as student services coordinator for the MASL program.

Jen says she benefited greatly from connecting with the people in her cohort during residency week, participating in lectures, and beginning to better understand the program she is undertaking. “What I love the most is the spiritual element of this program - the Spirit-filled, Pentecostal, and uniquely Foursquare emphasis on learning and leadership; the entire approach resonated with my hopes for the program.”

First time residency students joined returning cohorts for combined chapel services and celebrated communion together during their final chapel of the week. It was a highlight for students from both groups adding yet another layer of spiritual depth to their camaraderie.

“My first residency week connected me with appreciation of the tandem focus of scholarly and Spirit-empowered study,” Jen says. “I loved the week. It felt like a powerful launch into the next two years of learning!”

“I felt like a kid in a candy store,” Pat Zimmerly says, referring to her initial residency week and the opportunity to access so many learning resources and relationships. Pat is responsible for minister’s credentials and licensing for the Foursquare Southwest District Office in Anaheim, Calif. and like many adult learners, she hoped long ago to return to college for an advanced degree but found her life too full to accommodate the dream.

“Now it’s my time,” Pat says. “I know the MASL process will forever change how I see others and how I view myself. In fact, it already has affected my life.”

Although Alaba is only a few months into the program, he already is anticipating the day he will graduate with his M.A. degree. In the meantime, he says, “The knowledge and experience I will acquire in this program will go a long way to enhance the quality of my leadership and ministry.”

Pat and Jen wholeheartedly agree and enthusiastically add, “It’s a dream come true.”

Complete details about LPC graduate programs are available online.

MASL residencies take place in January and July—January residencies are held at LPC, San Dimas. Residencies are as follows:




  • MASL Pacific Region January ’17 cohort — San Dimas, CA (first-year, January 2017 and second-year, January 2018)
  • MASL Cascadia Region July ’17 cohort — Beaverton, Oregon on the campus of Beaverton Foursquare Church (second residency will be in the same location in July 2018).
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    By: Rod Light, M.A., an ordained Foursquare minister, LPC adjunct professor, and Communications Coordinator for Foursquare Missions International.