Magazine article The Christian Century

Revisioning Seminary

Magazine article The Christian Century

Revisioning Seminary

Article excerpt

IN THIS ANNUAL theological education issue, Will Willimon observes that the most effective clergy he knows are finding creative ways to start new communities of faith--but seminaries are not teaching them how to do it ("Making ministry difficult," p. 11). "Seminaries have changed less in the past 100 years than vibrant congregations have changed in the past two decades," says Willimon.

I don't think Willimon goes far enough. I don't believe that theological education has changed in its basic assumptions and structures for centuries: it's a graduate school environment, complete with residential campus and students working in academic disciplines--languages, history, Bible and theology.

I am a grateful product of those assumptions and structures and as resistant to the idea of change as anyone. But it's time for bold, creative experiments in preparing women and men for the unique challenges of 21st-century America. Pressing issues become more critical each year: the cost of seminary, for example, continues to climb, with the unhappy result that students graduate with significant and prohibitive debt and look for jobs at a time when there are fewer full-time positions that pay enough to accommodate the debt. …

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