I cannot recall a time when I have welcomed a new year with more optimism and hope.
I think we can all agree that we will never forget the one we have just left behind. With more than nine months in quarantine and in socially distanced spaces, everything in education had to be reimagined: educational engagement, pedagogical practices, communal worship, formational experiences, and social constructs. The impact was felt by everyone in the field — board members, administrators, faculty, staff, donors, alumni — and, perhaps most importantly, by students.
Students — the very heart of our work in education. The people who allow you to fulfill your mission. Your very why.
I have been overwhelmed by the ways school communities have cared for their students and faculty, all while adapting to these challenging times.
And how do students feel about what they are experiencing? In this issue, we are excited to share what we have heard directly from them and from the organizations that are listening to and supporting them.
■ From our colleagues at the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), we have learned that for the fall 2020 semester, enrollment has increased in more than half of ATS schools. And from the 2020 ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire, we learned what students think about the effectiveness of the education they are receiving.
■ How are students experiencing field education? With flexibility, creativity, and the understanding that they are a critical partner in ministry.
■ We have learned that for Latino/a students, theological education is not a one-size-fits-all experience. We hear their concerns about pathways to ministry, bachelor’s degree equivalency, financial support, and issues central to their contexts, including race, identity, and faith.
■ We have heard from Damaris Torres Rivera, a graduate of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, who shares her efforts to answer the call to ministry, not only as a woman, but as a mature woman.
As we go forth in this new year, I pray God blesses you as you continue to fulfill your school’s mission. And may God bless those who come to you seeking knowledge and experiences to better serve their communities, the church, and the world.
Amy L. Kardash, President