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From category archives: In Trust Blog

Spiritual/Inspirational

   
                

Human formation, a key to ministry preparation

           
         

In the Catholic context, preparation for priestly ministry is guided by the Program of Priestly Formation. Theological educators of any denomination can benefit from reading this document, especially the section outlining the four elements of formation – spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and human.

   

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The board's role in spiritual formation

           
         

Theological school boards are responsible for all aspects of the school they serve, including the spiritual formation of their students. But how can boards know for sure whether spiritual formation is being adequately addressed?

   

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Seminaries and a theology of work

           
         

Most ministers who want to engage the working world will find that their theological school left them unprepared,” argues Chris Armstrong in “The other 100,000 hours,” an article in the New Year 2013 issue of In Trust. 

   

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A community-based leadership “creed”

           
         

Boyung Lee is the first Korean American woman dean at an ATS school. She cites the work of a group called Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM) as pivotal to her development as a leader. Here she shares her 13-point "Leadership Creed," an embodiment of the lessons she's learned in PANAAWTM.  

   

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Strategic planning = spiritual discernment

           
         

Leaders of theological schools routinely navigate the nuances of Torah law; Trinitarian controversies; the oeuvre of Rahner, Barth, and Marion; not to mention the subtleties of shared governance. Yet we can still be intimidated by the occult mysteries of strategic planning — not just planning, mind you, but strategic planning.

   

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A case study in mission-driven publishing

           
         

 

For seminaries, coming up with sustainable revenue-generating ventures is often imperative. But schools must consider whether those venture support their mission and values.

   

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Addressing domestic violence in faith communities

           
         

Domestic violence is a serious concern that can affect members of any congregation or faith community. As such, faith leaders often encounter both victims and abusers in their ministry and should be equipped to respond appropriately.

   

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Moving past the stigma of mental illness

           
         


I’m a pastor with depression. For years I thought I had to hide it. That was an eye-catching headline in a recent News & Ideas newsletter from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. The headline was a link to a Sojourners article, and I read it with interest because we recently published an article in In Trust on theological schools partnering with psychology and social work programs. 

   

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Transformational philanthropy means engagement with prospective donors

           
         




“Transformational philanthropy” was the focus of a December 6 webinar sponsored by the In Trust Center and presented by Aimée Laramore, director of advancement at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and owner/lead consultant at ALlyd Solutions.

   

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Seminary rector interviewed by Crux magazine

           
         



Bishop Timothy Senior, rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, recently gave an interview for Crux magazine. During the interview, Bishop Senior offered his reflections on priestly formation one year after Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to Philadelphia.

   

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One Jesuit's perspective on theological education

           
         



As the Jesuits are currently reviewing their approach to theological education, one of the order's former educators is offering his perspective on changes needed to prepare clergy for a modern context.

   

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Leadership is shaped by our faith traditions

           
         


As David Tiede put it in a 2009 In Trust article, “Effective leadership . . . has become the test in a growing number of schools, and some track their results by how well communities are led by their graduates.”

Quoting Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, Tiede states that “theological education is leadership education.” In addition to intellectual and spiritual formation, seminaries typically include leadership education in their models of good theological education.

   

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You, too, can learn to love fundraising

           
         

The theme of the Harvard Business Review article is networking. However, the quoted comments from reluctant business schmoozers ring familiar to the way fundraising-adverse nonprofit folk talk about asking for money.

Uncomfortable, phony, distasteful, a necessary evil, feels slimy.

I’ve heard them all, including from ministry leaders who claim to have accepted the good news of fundraising as ministry.


   

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Calvin College offers inmates a second chance

           
         

 

“To have this opportunity is an answer to prayer and an opportunity to fulfill my calling,” says David. He's pursuing a bachelor of arts in ministry leadership degree offered by Calvin College. He's also an inmate at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. 

The Calvin Prison Initiative offers 20 inmates in the Michigan correctional system the chance to pursue a B.A. while incarcerated. The initiative, which accepted its first class in August, has been positively received by inmates, prison staff, and Calvin faculty alike.


   

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All Saints Day: Gratitude and inspiration

           
         


For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

I love All Saints Day. I love the exercise of reflecting back on those who have come before us and the challenges they faced and the difference they made. As I look back in my family, community, congregation, denomination, and the organizations with which I work, it becomes clear that we really are standing on the shoulders of giants -- everyday saints who made a tremendous difference for me personally and for the institutions I serve and the community in which I live.

   

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The long arm of history: Understanding the past helps decision-making today

           
         

 

When I was in seminary, I remember a professor telling a class that when new pastors arrive at a church, they are directly affected by the last 30 years of that church’s history. If the pastor of 20 years ago ran off with the organist, the current pastor needs to know about it. The congregation certainly knows about it. If there was a church split at some point, the whole town probably knows about it. In light of this, our professor strongly recommended getting as complete a history as possible early in the interview process. Pastors need to know up front what can be changed, what can be worked around, and whether they have the skills to manage that ministry. Institutions of theological education are no different. . . .

   

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He lost his faith, so he quit his seminary teaching post

           
         

The July 6 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education included a reflection by Brandon G. Withrow about why he left his position at Winebrenner Theological Seminary.

He left his job behind because he left his faith behind.

   

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A gentle evaluation turns away anger

           
         



In the coming months I will assist with two evaluation processes – one of a seminary president’s performance, the other, a board self-assessment. When approaching such assignments, my modus operandi is to accentuate the positive before broaching the negative. To paraphrase the author of Proverbs, I've found that a gentle evaluation turns away anger, while a harsh review encourages the one(s) under scrutiny to dig in his/her/their heels.

   

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A seminary president’s thoughts on dying

           
         



Steve Hayner, who was president of Columbia Theological Seminary
until a few months ago, died last weekend of fast-moving pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed less than a year ago, he spent his last few months learning to ask new questions — not “What are my plans?” but rather “How am I going to be faithful whatever the circumstances?”

   

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Giving thanks: A formula for success

           
         



My wife often travels for work.
It’s one of the sacrifices we accept in exchange for the ability to work together from home. Trips usually take her away for no more than two or three days, but this month a huge project demanded that she be in New Hampshire for nearly two weeks.

   

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Who will lead the exiles? A seminary-for-exiles

           
         



We live in a time of exile,” writes Carl Trueman, a professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, in the latest edition of First Things.

“The Western public square is no longer a place where Christians feel they belong . . .

   

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Paying attention to spiritual formation: What’s a board to do?

           
         



Spiritual formation is a topic gaining wide acceptance
as a “growing edge” within many leadership programs in theological education. Students desire it. Professors recognize its role as glue for the whole curricular strategy. Surveys lift up the need for seminary leaders to pay more attention to it. Should seminary boards...

   

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Trends in church-going hint at a more diverse future for seminaries

           
         



The fact that with each generation, Americans seem less interested in religion has been sort of an assumed given. A recent article in OnFaith points tells us the reality doesn’t quite match up with the accepted narrative. The numbers are dropping among white millennials, but for non-whites, the story is very different...

   

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On a C. S. Lewis anniversary, honoring theological educators

           
         



One of my favorite characters in the C. S. Lewis canon is the Anglican bishop 
in The Great Divorce. Along with the other characters in this parable, the bishop has taken a bus from a vast purgatorial city to the very gates of paradise. Once at the gate, he can accompany his appointed guide into heaven if he simply lays down his burdens and follows. Easy! But the bishop waffles. 

   

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Seminarians need spiritual support too

           
         



Seminary board members give a lot — their time, their money, their expertise.
But one thing they don’t expect to be asked for is spiritual support. 

Why not? 

   

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