Introducing Dr. Matt Ayars

We are excited to announce that Dr. Matt Ayars has been selected as the 8th president of Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Visionary Leader. Gifted Scholar. Passionate Disciple.

Dr. Matt Ayars has extensive experience in educational leadership. He has served at Emmaus University of Haiti for 13 years, including stints as professor of Old Testament, provost and executive vice president, and for the last eight years as president.

In addition to his role at Emmaus, Dr. Ayars served for a time as the vice president of theological education at the One Mission Society. He has also served as a member of the board for the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology in Jamaica. Dr. Ayars currently serves on the executive committee of Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association as the Secretary-Treasurer. He is also vice-chairman of the board of trustees for the Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary.

Dr. Ayars earned a BA in Bible and Theology at Asbury University, an MA in Biblical literature at Wesley Biblical Seminary, and a PhD in Old Testament Studies from St. Johns College of Nottingham. His dissertation focused on linguistic discourse analysis of Hebrew poetry in the Psalms.

Dr. Ayars has published on a wide variety of topics related to Wesleyan soteriology, biblical theology, and leadership. He has written a variety of articles and books, including Salvation in Fresh Perspective: Covenant, Cross, and Kingdom (Wipf and Stock, 2015), Holy Is a Four-Letter Word Co-Authored with Dr. Charles Lake. (Wipf and Stock, 2015), and The Shape of Biblical Poetry: The Discourse Function of Linguistic Parallelism in the Egyptian Hallel. Studia Semitica Neerlandica Series (Leiden: Brill, 2018).

A Message from Dr. Ayars

It is an incredible honor and privilege to take on the role of President at Wesley Biblical Seminary. In these days, the world of Protestant Evangelical theological higher education is changing at an incredible rate and is facing new challenges every day. These changes are in large part due to the culture war that is raging on around us. The ideas and core values that define and characterize culture are shifting like tectonic plates under a fault-line. These shifts in thinking and values are changing the very landscape of the world we inhabit.

These challenges are not a threat, but an opportunity. Namely, these challenges present an opportunity for theological schools that are an extension of the Church to become more nimble, innovative, entrepreneurial, creative, and ultimately more effective in fulfilling the mission to develop whole leaders who preach the whole Gospel, to the whole world. Furthermore, these challenges amplify the urgency of transformative theological education that is uncompromisingly committed to full biblical authority and the message of holiness. This is what WBS is about, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Matt Ayars
President-elect
Wesley Biblical Seminary

Academic Interests

Dr. Ayars successfully completed his PhD at St. John’s College of Nottingham (validated by the University of Chester) in Old Testament studies focused on linguistic discourse analysis of Hebrew poetry in the Psalms. His dissertation was published in Brill’s Studia Semitica Neerlandica series under the title The Shape of Biblical Hebrew Poetry: Exploring the Discourse Function of Linguistic Parallelism in the Egyptian Hallel.

Dr. Ayars has also published on topics related to Wesleyan soteriology, biblical theology, and leadership. Other research interests include the interpretation of the Psalms as a book, the book of Isaiah, the biblical doctrine of holiness, Pauline studies, and the New Perspective of Paul.

Dr. Ayars is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Evangelical Theological Society, the Tyndale Fellowship, the International Organization of Masoretic Studies, the National Association of Hebrew Professors, the Poetics and Linguistics Association, and the Francis Asbury Society.

Family

Dr. Matt Ayars is married to Stacey, and together they have four children (Lily, b. 2009; Sofia, b. 2011; Nora, b. 2015; Benjamin, b. 2018).

Matt is from Penns Grove, New Jersey and Stacey is from Columbus, OH. By God’s providence, Matt and Stacey met while students together at Asbury College with a call on their lives to full-time ministry.

Soon after getting married, Matt and Stacey moved to Haiti to serve at Emmaus Biblical Seminary (now Emmaus University of Haiti) as career missionaries with OMS International (now the One Mission Society). Since then, Matt has completed graduate and post-graduate degrees while serving full-time at Emmaus in various leadership roles.

Tenure at Emmaus University

Dr. Ayars’ ministry at Emmaus Biblical Seminary of Haiti (now “Emmaus University of Haiti”) began in 2007 as Assistant Professor of Old Testament. In 2010, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Ayars became the Executive Vice President and Provost of Emmaus. In 2012 the Board of Directors named him the President of Emmaus.

As President of Emmaus Dr. Ayars has led the school in strategic and innovative expansion, increasing academic rigor, and strengthening its fiscal sustainability. Since 2010 enrollment at Emmaus has grown from forty students to 200 students and programming from one degree program to four. Under Dr. Ayars’ leadership Emmaus earned its membership and certification with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and Emmaus became the first theological school in Haiti to be fully accredited by the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association (CETA) which is a regional arm of the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE). Dr. Ayars also serves on the executive committee of CETA as the Secretary-Treasurer.

Also during Dr. Ayars’ tenure at Emmaus he briefly served as the Vice President of Theological Education (now “Theological Leadership Education and Discipleship”) at the One Mission Society. The goal of this group is to collaborate with and lend support to the thirty or so bible colleges and seminaries that OMS has launched and partnered with over the years around the world. Dr. Ayars serves as the vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary. He has also served as a member of the board for the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology in Jamaica.

Endorsements

“I am excited that Dr. Matt Ayars has accepted the invitation of the Board of Trustees of Wesley Biblical Seminary to become the next President of the Seminary. Dr. Ayars brings a wealth of gifts to the assignment. He is intelligent, energetic, articulate, and devoted to Christ and his kingdom, the cause for which WBS exists. I am confident that, building on the foundation laid by the late Dr. John Neihof, Dr. Ayars will lead the institution to new heights of accomplishment.”

Dr. John Oswalt
Interim President
Wesley Biblical Seminary

“I rejoice that the Lord has brought Dr. Matt Ayars to Wesley Biblical Seminary as our new President. Matt’s love for people, his unwavering commitment to Trinitarian theology and to the proclamation of scriptural Holiness will continue to make WBS stand out in a world where many Seminaries have lost their way. It is exciting to see one of our graduates come home to lead us on to greater heights.”

David Chandler
Chairman of the Board
Wesley Biblical Seminary

“Once in a great while there appears on the landscape of theological education a leader with the unusual capacity for prophetic vision, erudition, and the capacity to garner support for investing in great Christian enterprise. Matt Ayars is precisely that kind of leader. Moreover, he is a distinguished WBS alum. God has smiled on Wesley Biblical Seminary by leading the Trustees to the momentous decision to choose the Ayars family for such a time as this.”

Dr. Ronald E. Smith
Senior Pastor
Trinity United Methodist Church

“Across the last decade and a half of academic leadership at Emmaus University of Haiti, Dr. Ayars has honed his formidable gifts and readied a team of national leaders to take his place.  Now, he brings to WBS the same passion and maturity that enabled overwhelming success at Emmaus. He is abundantly gifted and wonderfully prepared to lead his alma mater to new heights.”

Dr. Matt Friedeman
John M. Case Professor of Evangelical Studies
Wesley Biblical Seminary

“I can’t think of a better choice to lead WBS into the future. Matt’s missionary experience models servant leadership on a global scale and his ability to work cross-culturally is invaluable.  Matt’s commitment to academic excellence sets the tone for the seminary’s scholastic endeavors.  And Matt’s whole-hearted affirmation of his Wesleyan roots anchor him squarely in the holiness tradition. This is a great day for WBS and for the Kingdom!”

Stan Key
President
The Francis Asbury Society

“As a member of a governing board, I have received reports and vision statements from Matt as president that inspired the board to take courageous action. For almost a decade, Matt has given competent leadership as president of Emmaus University of Haiti. I have witnessed his leadership first hand. His discernment of scripture and the leading of God’s spirit gives confidence to those who work with him. Dr. Ayars will serve the WBS community with excellence and integrity.”

Dr. Ray Easley
Dean of the Schools of Education and Leadership
Emmaus University of Haiti

“I am so very pleased for WBS that Matt Ayars has accepted the post of president! Matt is well-trained, courageous, Spirit-filled, and unrelenting. Years of service at Emmaus University of Haiti have rendered him uniquely qualified for the highs and lows of administration and consensus-building in challenging circumstances. This man is theologically informed, practically prepared, and every inch the leader that WBS is looking for. The future is bright with Matt Ayers at the wheel!”

Sandra Richter
Professor of Old Testament
Westmont College

“Dr. Ayars brings a unique combination of scholarship and practical insight which embraces ‘the world as my parish’ and his neighbor next door.  His high capacity leadership radiates from a noticeable personal discipleship and a transformed heart that has been enflamed by the Holy Spirit for others.”

Doug Smith
Senior Pastor
Sharptown United Methodist Church

Contact Dr. Ayars