Portrait by Ellen Marello
Our president and board have spent time over the past three years in discernment about our ecclesial context, the wider culture, and the changing nature of our student body. We are in transition: today, just over a third of our students are from the Reformed Church in America (RCA), which birthed our seminary in 1866, and we are inhabiting a multi-denominational space. The board approved a measure that then was approved by the denomination’s General Synod to become “officially related to” rather than “owned and operated by the RCA.”
Over time, the president and board moved towards a smaller board as part of our discernment about identity. None of this did the president lobby for or take lightly, and the board has really leaned into these discernment processes with him. Our goal is to be able to respond with agility and creativity as Western seeks to live into its mission, both now and in years to come.
There’s a lot of tree imagery in the Bible, trees with deep roots so that when fire or floods come they continue to bear fruit, and offer life to the world. Governance is like the bark of a tree: a protective framework that allows everything inside to work, a connection from the inner life to the outer world.