Gregg Brekke’s article “Going the Distance” (Autumn 2022) is enlightening in its summation of declining higher education CEO tenures amidst the multiple complexities of the times. I would add to his list the devaluing of religion in an increasingly secular culture. The interviews emphasize several factors that contribute to persistence. The dominant thread is a deep sense of calling that, despite the roller coaster realities, anchors these long-serving leaders to the missions of their institutions. That calling, then, is the tether that allows these leaders to adapt to the ever-changing challenges and opportunities. Stan Porter, at McMaster Divinity College, shares the importance of that tether as he reinvents himself as a leader capable of discerning the times and adapting strategies while remaining loyal to the institution’s mission. Also, as Jan Love at Candler School of Theology notes, it takes time to implement a new strategic vision, so a long tenure provides the luxury of doing it carefully.
While each of our institutions requires distinctive executive strategies, the insights here provide important guideposts to Seminary leaders, ensuring the fidelity and effectiveness of their sacred calling to equip women and men for ecclesial service in times like these.
David J. Gyertson, Ph.D.
Executive Transition Consultant and Leadership Coach
Trauma’s Shadow (Autumn 2022) raises many issues for theological education, with two that stand out. The first is the need to help students establish appropriate boundaries and debriefing practices. Professions like social work and counseling do great at this. However, pastors are taught an incarnational approach to ministry, which often feels in tension with boundary setting. We need to assist students in wrestling with this tension, in the classroom and in their ministry.
Second, since trauma is ubiquitous, pastors encounter trauma with individuals, in their churches, and in their communities. Few professions deal with such a spectrum of trauma. Since we cannot fully prepare students in the few years we have with them, how can we support our alumni? Can we provide learning communities for alumni and community pastors?
Dean, School of Ministry Palm Beach Atlantic University
Seminary professors have a front row seat to how trauma (Autumn 2022) shows up in the lives and learning experience of our students. In my eight years as a professor, I have either said to or heard from a colleague: “Students keep telling these personal stories. No matter what what the discussion, they bring it back to that same thing, and it can take over the conversation every time it comes up.”
More often than not, seminary students come to ministry and theological education with trauma, which can be their primary lens on the learning process and the practice of ministry. It takes focus on faculty formation for trauma-informed and healing-centered pedagogy, and student formation around informed and centered learning as preparation for ministry.
Rev. Dr. Stephanie M. Crumpton
Director, McCormick Theological Seminary Trauma Healing Initiative
Correction In the Autumn issue, Kent Eaton, Ph.D., was incorrectly identified as the newly appointed president of Pacific Lutheran Seminary. Dr. Eaton was appointed president of Pacific Theological Seminary. We regret the error
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