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RTS Succession Plan Taps President Milton as Chancellor Elect

Contact: Lyn Perez, Reformed Theological Seminary, 407-366-9493

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- The succession of top leadership is a common challenge among churches, ministries and even companies and corporations. It is best for organizations to prepare for such changes by developing a succession plan that leads to a smooth transition. Reformed Theological Seminary, in an effort to glorify God and to be an example of good stewardship and effective preparation, has therefore planned and is now implementing a succession plan for Chancellor and CEO, Dr. Robert C. (Ric) Cannada, Jr.

The executive committee of the RTS Board of Trustees, at their September 2nd meeting, unanimously elected Dr. Michael A. Milton as chancellor elect and successor to Dr. Cannada. Both Dr. Milton and Dr. Cannada will share leadership responsibilities for the next 21 months, until June 1, 2012, at which time Dr. Milton will assume full responsibilities as chancellor and CEO of RTS. At that time, Dr. Cannada will remain with RTS as chancellor emeritus assisting the seminary with the anticipated 50th anniversary financial campaign to help provide for the future operational and capital needs of all the RTS campuses.

"We want to thank Dr. Cannada for his ministry to RTS which will soon total 20 years and for his outstanding leadership over RTS in recent years," said Jim Moore, chairman of the board of trustees. "Under Ric's leadership at RTS, which will total over 10 years by the time the chancellor transition is complete, much has been accomplished in the development and the growth of the seminary. Now we implement our succession plan preparing the way for Dr. Mike Milton to give leadership to this strategic ministry."

"Mike has displayed outstanding leadership qualities in his career: in his current position as president of RTS/Charlotte, in his leading large churches as senior pastor, in his founding of two churches, and through his work in the military and in the business world," continued Chairman Moore. "Mike is committed to preparing the next generation of pastors for the church and is active in training a generation of chaplains to support our young men and women at war. We feel he is God's man to succeed Dr. Cannada. A person with such experience and giftedness doesn't come around very often and we look forward to his leadership of RTS in the years ahead."

Chancellor & CEO Ric Cannada said, "When I initially agreed to serve as president and then chancellor of RTS, Chairman Moore and I discussed then a possible succession plan when I would turn 65 years old which would be just after the next 10 year reaffirmation of accreditation for RTS. In God's providence, that planned timing and schedule has worked well, especially since the Lord has raised up the perfect person to succeed me in this strategic role. It will soon be time for me to hand off the leadership to Mike Milton passed down to me from the founders of RTS, which included my father, Robert C. Cannada Sr. Mike is a man of God. He loves the Lord and he loves God's people. He is very talented and uses the gifts God has given him to spread the Word of God wherever the Lord opens a door. As both a scholar and a pastor, Mike is passionate about rightly preparing leaders for effective preaching of Biblical truth and he is committed to passing on to the next generation the Reformed faith as it has been entrusted to us. I am thrilled that our Lord has raised up Mike to take my place. I look forward to serving with Mike over the next two years as we prepare for the transition of leadership and as we work together through the process of reaffirmation of accreditation for RTS. Then I will happily serve Mike and RTS as chancellor emeritus for as long as I am needed."

Dr. Milton is currently the president of RTS/Charlotte and the James M. Baird Jr. professor of pastoral theology. He was appointed to this position in Nov. 2007. Prior to serving at the seminary, he served as the senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., for 6 years and before that pastored churches in Overland Park, Kansas, and in Savannah, Ga. Mike will continue to serve as the interim president of RTS/Charlotte until a successor is named for that position. A search for a new president for RTS/Charlotte will commence immediately. Like Dr. Cannada, Mike will continue in faculty status, as the James M. Baird Jr. professor of pastoral theology, seeking to embody the RTS vision through a continued teaching ministry at the various campuses.

"I've had the privilege of sitting under the solid biblical and pastoral teaching of Dr. Milton and I've observed his winsome leadership as president of the Charlotte campus," said Jordan Olshefski (current RTS/Charlotte M.Div. student). "In his role as chancellor of RTS, I'm confident that Dr. Milton will lead with a sense of dependence on the Lord and I look forward to his leadership as I continue my education here."

Dr. Milton said, "To carry on the sacred trust of this institution started by the few men who had a passion for the gospel, missions and the Reformed faith -- the founding fathers along with the first RTS president Rev. Sam Patterson, followed by Dr. Luder Whitlock, and now by Dr. Cannada -- is a great honor and a distinct privilege. It is also a new level of responsibility that has driven me to my knees. In seeking God for His will, Mae and I believe that the Lord has opened this door of ministry and confirmed it to us and the board in many ways. Thus, by His grace and only in His strength, I am now ready and willing to go forward and follow this call of Christ. I believe that RTS is more than an institution. It is a movement of God's people earnest in their faith with a vision to change this world through the preaching of the Gospel for the Glory of God. RTS is to be about nothing short of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. I am humbled to serve in this movement and I covet your prayers as we work together to this end."

RTS is one of the largest accredited seminaries in the country. It is comprised of six campuses - Orlando, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, Jackson, and a Virtual campus that offers a Master of Arts in Religion degree, 90% of which can be completed by distance/internet instruction. Doctoral programs are also offered in Sao Paulo Brazil in partnership with MacKenzie University and with Southeast Asia Bible Seminary, Malang, East Java, Indonesia. In order to most effectively manage this growing organization, in recent years, under Dr. Cannada's leadership, a new organizational structure was implemented at RTS in which each campus is led by a campus president who all report to a chancellor and CEO over the system of campuses.

Founded in 1966 in response to growing liberalism in the church, RTS is an independent seminary committed to the Bible as God's inerrant and infallible Word, the final authority of faith and life, and to the Reformed tradition as that system of doctrine developed during the Reformation and which best reflects a complete understanding of Scripture as set forth especially in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.

The expansion of RTS into a multi campus seminary has been driven by a strong desire to make theological education and pastoral preparation "available, accessible, and flexible" to young people where there are no other viable options for their preparation other than to uproot and move to a campus in another region. A by-product of "taking theological education to the student, rather than requiring the student to come to RTS" has been the creation of "impact centers" for church planting and church growth. Wherever a new campus has been established, there has been a significant increase in the planting of churches by graduates. In addition, existing churches using current students, have been able to stretch their reach into their communities and have experienced growth in their ministry.

Extensions in Houston and Memphis are the newest campus developments. Later locations, if it is God's will, may include campuses on the west coast of the US.

For the detailed Chancellor Succession Plan, click here

Dr. Michael A. Milton (biography)

Dr. Michael A. Milton (Ph.D., University of Wales) accepted the call to become the third president and professor of practical theology of Reformed Theological Seminary, in Charlotte on Nov. 1, 2007. His service of investiture was held on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. He subsequently was appointed by the board of trustees to the James M. Baird Jr. chair of pastoral theology. Dr. Milton has authored ten books including Small Things, Big Things: Inspiring Stories of God's Grace (P&R Publishing, Nov. 2009); What God Starts, God Completes: Help and Hope for Hurting People (Christian Focus Publications, Oct. 2007); and Leaving a Career to Follow a Call: A Vocational Guide to the Ordained Ministry. His latest book, Doxology in the Darkness: How God Transforms Our Pain to Praise (P&R) is due in the spring. He has written numerous popular and academic articles and has been published in such periodicals as Preaching Magazine, World Magazine, and The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is also a regular presenter of theological papers at annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society. His weekly radio program and Web site are found at www.thecall.rts.edu (soon to be re named FaithforLiving.net). He records a sermon-of-the-month CD for RTS student scholarship donors and in addition, you can read more of his blogs at mikemilton.org and find him on twitter at www.twitter.com/mamilton.  

Dr. Milton previously served as the 12th senior pastor in 173 years at the historic First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tenn. Prior to answering the call to ministry, Dr. Milton served 16 years in the business world (Dow Chemical and Ashland Chemical) and was also a top secret Navy linguist (Albanian). He interned under The Rev. Robert E. Baxter in Olathe, Kansas, and under the late Dr. D. James Kennedy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale.

After seminary he planted two churches: Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Overland Park, Kansas; and Kirk O' the Isles Church in Savannah, Ga. He founded Westminster Academy Christian School in Overland Park and served as the interim president and adjunct professor in practical theology at Knox Theological Seminary. Dr. Milton’s personal story of moving from orphan and prodigal son to understanding God's grace and receiving his adoption through Jesus Christ is sometimes used in offering Christ's healing to a broken generation.

Often his sermons are illustrated with songs that he writes, sings, and performs with guitar or piano. His recording, He Shall Restore, was released in 2006 under the label Music for Missions and is distributed through iTunes. He released his second album, Follow Your Call in 2008 and the third, Through the Open Door (Music for Missions) is awaiting release.

In addition to his civilian ministry, Dr. Milton holds a commission in the U.S. Army Reserves as a chaplain, a ministry that he continues. His military career has taken him from battalion chaplaincy positions in Kansas to Brigade level chaplaincy positions, service in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, overseas Reserve missions, the deputy command chaplain of the 108th Training Command, U.S. Army Reserves, and presently serving at the US Army Chaplains Center and School. In 2010, he was inducted as a charter member of the College of Military Preachers by the chief of chaplains. Serving on several boards and active in a number of civic organizations, he maintains a full schedule of preaching and teaching in churches and seminaries and at conferences.

Dr. Milton and his wife Mae and their son, John Michael, reside in the Charlotte area.