Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
A part of my position which I enjoy immensely is the work with the PC(USA) seminaries throughout the United States. The Office of Theological Education (part of the mission area where I serve) works to coordinate collaboration between the seminaries, and between the seminaries and the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
During my first year in this call, I have sought to visit as many seminaries as I can, and last week I had the opportunity to visit the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico. Its president, Dr. Sergio Ojeda Cárcamo (pictured at left), spent the morning helping me to understand its ministry.
The seminary is ecumenical, joining together six Protestant denominations in San Juan. While the PCUSA has always been one of the leading institutions for this seminary (and indeed Dr. Ojeda is an ordained PCUSA pastor and scholar), the majority of its 240 students come from other traditions: Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Assemblies of God, and even non-denominational. Its classes are held in Spanish, but much of the reading is in English.
One of the most impressive things I learned while there is the great stewardship that the school experiences. When Dr. Ojeda became president only a decade ago, more than 75% of their funding came from their home denominations. Now, less than 25% of their funding comes from these sources. The remainder of the funding has come from individuals, churches, and tuition. Managing this transition has been difficult, but it is a testament to their stewardship that the budget ($1.3 million) has remained approximately the same.
At a personal level, I enjoyed spending time with President Ojeda—we have both spent a lot of time in Spain, and know some of the same scholars who work at the seminary outside of Madrid. He will retire this year; please join me in praying for the Spirit to lead just the right leader for the next chapter of the seminary!