Dear Members of the Rockbridge Seminary Community,
Over a year ago, I announced my plans to retire as president at the end of 2020. The board of trustees and I have been working on a succession plan to select the next president. It has been an awesome privilege and honor to serve as one of the founders of Rockbridge Seminary. As I close out eighteen years, I am grateful for the opportunity the board of trustees gave me to be part of creating a new way of developing leaders for Christian ministry.
On behalf of the board of trustees and presidential search committee, I am pleased to announce that Rev. Tommy Hilliker has accepted the role of president of Rockbridge Seminary. He will assume his duties as president on August 1, 2020. Over the coming months, I will assist with the transition and spearhead our reaccreditation efforts.
Following an extensive national search, our board unanimously selected Rev. Hilliker from a diverse and qualified group of candidates. Hilliker comes to Rockbridge from Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, where he served as the advancement campaign manager. Hilliker helped to oversee the strategy, development, and implementation of a $25 million capital and endowment giving campaign. Additionally, Hilliker taught classes on collegiate success and spiritual formation as an adjunct professor.
Rev. Hilliker has always had a heart for the ministry of pastors in the local church. He began his career in admissions and career counseling at Southern Seminary, helping students explore ministry career pathways. Hilliker moved from there to a role as creative marketing director for the pastoral resource website, Pastors.com. He then served for fourteen years at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, first as the pastor of membership, and then as the global pastor of ministries. He also served as a Saddleback elder. He has a commitment to the Purpose Driven Church principles upon which Rockbridge was founded.
As Saddleback’s global pastor of ministries, Hilliker was responsible for leading strategic initiatives for the main and multisite campuses. He oversaw the mobilization of volunteers and development of ministries, local missions, pastoral care, the PEACE Center (Community Resource Center), and the church-wide discipleship process known as CLASS. During his time of leadership in Saddleback’s membership care, growth, retention, and assimilation efforts, church membership grew by over 11,000 in four years.
Having served as a leader in pastoral care, Rev. Hilliker is passionate about the well-being of ministers. He wants Rockbridge to be known as a seminary that cares about every aspect of the ministry leader’s life and provides true soul care for students and their families. Hilliker is committed to continuing the development and practice of spiritual disciplines in every course, so that graduates will know God intimately. When asked about his new role at Rockbridge, Hilliker said:
“I see the critical importance of continuing to advance how we prepare pastors and ministry leaders. I want us to continue to cultivate an environment of innovation in digital learning. Rockbridge must stay current with best practices and excellence in academics, and always look for better ways to equip men and women for Christian ministry. We want to be widely known as a seminary where everyone will receive high-quality biblical training that is affordable, accessible, and practical. Today more than ever, our world needs deeply formed disciples, partnering with God, to advance His Kingdom.”
Rev. Hilliker has a Master of Divinity from Gateway Seminary and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Marriage, and Family from Liberty University. He was ordained to the ministry at First Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida.
The board of trustees and I enthusiastically welcome Tommy Hilliker, his wife, Amy, and their children Kaylie, Cassidy, and Caleb to Rockbridge Seminary. We strongly believe that Hilliker’s character, decisive leadership, and collaborative spirit will position our seminary for excellence and growth in the years ahead.
I eagerly anticipate hearing stories in the years ahead of how God is using Rock’rs to transform the lives of people around the world.