Lee Hinson-Hasty is coordinator for theological education and seminary relations in the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PC (U.S.A.). Through his work Lee hopes to capture and share a more expansive view of theological education, of church leadership and of vocational discernment as he sees through the eyes of some exciting Presbyterians in and related to seminaries.
I welcome and thank Wendy Fletcher, professor of the History of Christianity at Vancouver School of Theology and chair of the board of the Fund for Theological Education as a guest blogger in an Advent series answering the question, What is coming and becoming in theological education?Read this post for more about this series.
Writing at the end of the 1960's, Canadian author Pierre Burton observed that theological education, rather than serving as a vanguard which helped the rapidly changing church blaze a path to the future, functioned instead as a rearguard action that lagged behind the church sweeping up the pieces. Too often, in the immediately preceding decades, this has been all too true.
Of course I do believe that our seminaries and theological schools intended otherwise.
I welcome and thank Jonathan Strandjord, director of seminaries for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as a guest blogger in an Advent series answering the question, What is coming and becoming in theological education? Read this post for more about this series.
Observation #1: Theological Education of Public Leaders is Becoming More Plural in its Forms and at the Same Time More Connected in its Development and Execution
My teenage son, Garrison, called my attention to it, because I only glanced at the painting. He looked longer and more deeply. “Did you see that, Dad?” “What?” Pointing to one of dozens of paintings in The Civil War and American Art collection on tour from the Smithsonian at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. We’d seen hundreds of paintings already that day and this one did not catch my eye. “Look!” I still didn’t see what he was talking about.
Brian Blount, president and professor of New Testament at Union Presbyterian Seminary, was seven years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered what has come to be known as his “I Have a Dream” speech fifty years ago this week. Blount described it as “almost biblical in its proportions.” I tend to agree. As the parent of a seven year old myself, I continue to meditate on the speech and the dream. When I hear MLK’ Jr.’s speech my mind pictures Earnest Covington.
My daughter learned the words of institution for Communion by heart by the time she was three years old because our congregation sang them. Her tea parties as a preschooler often began with her giving thanks and then offering a cup saying, “Take a drink and remember me.”
Two stories came across my desk over the last week that seek to describe the phenomenon of decline in the church in drastically different ways. One is a quote from one of two April PC(USA) Board of Pensions Regional Benefits consultations. The second is one of the first articles published on the research by Barbara Wheeler and Tony Ruger, two Presbyterians, on their extensive and decades old research on seminarians and enrollment. One seems to say seminaries are sending more graduates to the church and the other alludes to the church sending fewer students to seminary.
Both make me wonder, what is God up to and calling the Church to do?
Cooperation and partnership with the PC(USA) and among the schools is alive and well. Numerous seminary staff groups meet regularly and collaborate often. They work on projects together that are serving the church better and leading in the academy.
So I wonder when we talk about our Presbyterian Seminaries as “crown jewels” of the PC(USA), if we could consider them in the singular?
How can we connect a new generation of gifted seminary graduates we believe God is calling to serve with visionary and faithful Christian ministries? The Committee on Theological Education encourages the PC(USA) to ask: "Why not?"