December 13, 2023
Wesley Biblical Seminary Announces Leadership Transition
Dr. Matt Friedeman named Interim President as Dr. Matt Ayars resigns
December 13, 2023—David Chandler, Chairman of the Wesley Biblical Seminary Board of Trustees, announced today on behalf of the board that President Matt Ayars has tendered his resignation. Dr. Matt Friedeman has been named Interim President until such time as the board elects a permanent successor.
Ayars, who served as the 8th president of Wesley Biblical Seminary, was elected in March of 2020. He led the seminary through the global pandemic and on to record growth in both enrollment and endowment funding. During his tenure, WBS was named as the first institution approved for the emerging Global Methodist Church, strengthening the seminary’s position as a leader in theological education among a wide array of denominations and networks in the Wesleyan tradition. The school’s historic commitment to biblical inerrancy and vital holiness continued under Ayars, placing WBS as an important voice in this critical moment in the Church across the United States. WBS also graduated its first cohort in Mexico during this period, continuing a legacy of support for the global Church.
“I want to express my thanks to each and all of you for your unwavering support of me in this role,” Ayars wrote in a statement. “I am eternally grateful for your vote of confidence in my leadership. I’m also so grateful for the wonderful staff and faculty at WBS who have continually extended their steadfast support of my leadership. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in this role. I’m very hopeful for the bright future of WBS and I will always support the work that God is doing through this wonderful institution.”
In his statement, Ayars indicated that the heavy responsibilities of his role had unfortunately affected his overall health and his ability to fulfill his responsibilities to his family. “The role of a seminary president is a burdensome one, and we honor Dr. Ayars decision to focus on his health and family during this season,” said Chandler. “We celebrate the accomplishments of his leadership at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and trust that he will continue to be used in great ways for the Kingdom of God. We pray for God’s richest blessings on Matt and his family.”
Matt Friedeman, Ph.D., is the John M. Case Chair of Evangelism and Discipleship at WBS. He is the longest-serving faculty member, having come to the seminary in 1987. A distinguished scholar whose most recent publication was named Christianity Today’s theological book of the year, Friedeman is best known for his emphasis on practical discipleship that moves students to respond with concrete acts of mercy to the needs of the world. Friedeman is an ordained Nazarene minister who serves as the founding pastor of Day Spring Community Church in Clinton, Mississippi. He and his wife, Mary, have six children.
“Dr. Friedeman has been part of the backbone of Wesley Biblical Seminary for a generation,” said Chandler. “We are thankful for his acceptance of the role of interim president and confident that his leadership, along with our highly capable faculty and staff, will continue to lead us forward in the days ahead.”
“It is with deep love for the Ayars family and for Wesley Biblical Seminary that I take up this baton,” said Friedeman. “I trust that all of our students, alumni, and supporters will keep Matt and his family in their prayers. I humbly ask that you keep me in your prayers as well, and continue to demonstrate your commitment to WBS and its vital mission to develop trusted leaders for faithful churches.”