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From category archives: In Trust Blog

Church Relations

Preparing your students to work without pay

Increasing numbers of churches are turning to part-time, low-paid, or unpaid ministers. What does this mean for seminaries?

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Seminary classes in churches: creative experiments and tough questions

 

Is theological education for everyone — or only for those with special vocations? That question is not new. Nor is it new for seminary classes to be held in church basements in order to bring education closer to the people in the pews. Yet it’s worth repeating that seminaries are continuing to experiment with bringing theological education to untapped audiences. One of these new-yet-old experiments is “taking seminary to church” — holding seminary courses in congregational settings with regular church-goers invited to learn along with officially enrolled seminarians.

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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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The gift of a learning community

An interview with Tim Shapiro, president of the Center for Congregations and author of How Your Congregation Learns: The Learning Journey from Challenge to Achievement.

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Financial woes across the pond


The Church Times, a London-based Anglican newspaper, recently published an article about the apparent financial crisis facing Anglican theological education in the United Kingdom.

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Is your school keeping up with the ever-shifting religious landscape?




A recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that “the future of religion in America is young, non-Christian, and technicolor.”

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Turning campus conflict into dialogue and education

M. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, teaches a course on conflict. He found himself in the midst of one recently, when the school’s Kuyper Center announced that the Rev. Tim Keller was being honored with its annual award and would be keynote lecturer at the annual Kuyper Conference.

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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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How one school is integrating field education into clerical training


 

A recent article in The Christian Century by Celeste Kennel-Shank features Bexley Seabury Seminary’s revised M.Div. program, which integrates field education throughout seminarians’ education. The Chicago seminary's newly relaunched M.Div. program requires students to work with faculty, pastors, congregational leaders, and parishioners in a real-world context as they simultaneously take courses, both online and in person.

 

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Reaching seminarians and communities alike through congregational partnerships




The challenges for modern theological schools and the needs of seminarians are great and ever-changing. Among these include the rising costs of obtaining seminary degrees and many seminarians’ desire to remain close to their homes and families. In a February article in The Christian Century, Jason Byassee and Ross Lockhart highlight how some schools are meeting these challenges by partnering with flourishing megachurches.

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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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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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Who is your most strategic partner?

First, throw out the “M-word.” Mergers scare people, so most schools are approaching partnerships in terms of new models of collaboration. A merger gives people the perception that there are winners and losers, but collaborations open up space for creativity and exploration: “If we were to imagine a future together, what might that look like?” 


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Seeking a say in the naming of a new president, monks sue trustees



There’s governance trouble brewing at Benedictine University in Illinois
: The monks of St. Procopius Abbey, which owns the school, are suing the trustees for shutting them out of the selection of the new president. According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, the monks claim that the abbey’s leadership has always played a role in the selection of the president -- ever since the first nonclerical president was selected 40 years ago.

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A prayer for Emanuel and the nine



African American presidents and deans in theological education have shared the following statement and prayer in response to last week's mass murder at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 


June 2015

As the African American presidents and deans of graduate theological education, we express our profound solidarity with the families and the faithful of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. There are not words enough to convey the emotions we feel in the aftermath of the bloodbath.

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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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A call for board members to step up



The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review best summed up a recent report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) with this headline: “Scathing report says college trustees fail in mission.” The gist of the report is that higher education is mismanaged, and the buck stops with the board. The public’s image of the country’s institutions of higher education is not the most positive. High on the list of complaints. . .

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Can seminaries begin a conversation about clergy health?



Are the church leaders who graduate from your school more likely to be sicker
later in life than a random group of people in the same age group? New research by the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School indicates that Methodist clergy are, in fact, more likely to experience significant health problems — higher rates of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, angina, and asthma — than comparable state residents.


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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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News on demographics, essential skills, and more



Last year, In Trust published a report
 by Barbara Wheeler titled “Sobering Figures Point to Overall Enrollment Decline.” That article’s influence continues to grow. Most recently, it was cited in “Seminaries Continue to Attract Older Students,” an article that award-winning journalist Yonat Shimron wrote for the website Insights into Religion.

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Can your school apply the “eight stages of brand love”?

Swans

A post by Tim Halloran 
on the Harvard Business Review blog is targeted toward businesses, but seminaries might find it worthwhile to look at these stages of love in relation to their own stakeholders.

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Taking a stand on a controversial issue



Since reading the “Church and State” piece in the recent issue of In Trust, I’ve been keeping my eye on the news for stories of schools that have taken a position on an issue, perhaps schools that don’t often make headlines. Here's one . . .

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What happens when schools weaken denominational ties?



A recent article in Christianity Today showcases a new three-part study from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) that examines what happens to schools when they weaken denomination ties. While some students welcome a broader, less sectarian . . .

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