I was encouraged to see the story “How New Leaders are Stepping Up for Hispanic Churches” in the Winter edition. It’s wonderful to see how Latinx-led initiatives are creating connections with laity to build up the church.
For Hispanics, whether Protestant or Catholic, this is nothing new. They have sought education through classes or certificates, but the systems in higher education require more. What’s beautiful about this story is that it shows how these communities can build pipelines to higher education and how the institutions of higher education can help advance these efforts.
This is pointing to a new way of educating people which can no longer be ignored. For the now and the future, we’ve got to be willing to have these conversations and open up spaces for new pathways to accredited theological education. I’m grateful for In Trust providing this forum and hope it will lead to more stories, discussion, and actionable collaborative efforts.
Rev. Joanne Rodríguez, Executive Director
Hispanic Theological Initiative
Thank you for focusing on our most important constituents: our students. Without them, there is no mission. In addition to the adaptive and innovative work that the Winter edition highlighted, I have been inspired by another way seminaries have responded to students. With little fanfare or publicity, seminaries and their friends have stepped up to provide emergency relief in the form of food, rent, and technology for students in crisis during the pandemic. At Northern, and presumably across ATS, some of the most generous givers to student needs have been intentionally anonymous fellow students. Behind the scenes, seminaries are fulfilling their mission by caring for those they teach.
William D. Shiell, President
Professor of Pastoral Theology and Preaching, Northern Seminary
My deepest appreciation for the inclusion of Heather Grennan Gary’s article on field education in the Winter issue. As one among many seminary field education directors trying to assist seminarians during the pandemic, it was gratifying to see the creative, Spirit-led ways in which students were engaged in their ministerial internships and practicums. I, too, had students utilizing social and visual media to provide pastoral care and encouragement to their field ed congregations. From fully “zoomed” children’s ministries activities to preaching and worship leadership, our students performed any number of ministerial practices that enhanced their own knowledge and experience in ministry. Additionally, their anecdotal reports of affirmative congregational support and appreciation for their ministry efforts demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit at work in every ministry venue.
Randy C. Walls, Professor of Pastoral Leadership
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary