Sunday, January 30, 2011

Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society continues for Spring Semester

LTSP Theme for the Academic Year 2010-2011: Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society

The theme for the 2010-2011 academic year continues through the spring semester, and is focused on curricular implications of the changes underway in theological education. A series of presentations during the year are intended to address some of these critical issues.

Convocations, normally scheduled for 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, and special programs this spring include:

Feb. 15: Teaching the Practice of Ministry in Seminary Curriculum: A Symposium by the Integrative Area

Mar. 1: Seminary Education: What the Church Expects? – Bishop Roy Riley, New Jersey Synod

Mar. 13-17: Preaching With Power Week, UTI Convocation 3/15

Mar. 22: Hein-Fry Lectures—a speaker from abroad

Mar. 29: Nolde Lecture (to be announced)

Apr. 5: Prof. Norma Cook-Everist, St. John’s Visiting Professor

Apr. 19: Faculty Panel—Insights from the convocation series

May 3-4: Spring Alumni Convocation 2011 - One God, Many Christs: How Jesus is Incarnated in America, Keynote Richard Wrightman Fox,Professor of History at the University of Southern California (USC) 5/3-5/4; 5/3 Earth Day—Green Team (Plaza)

May 10: Social Ministry Convocation

Convocations and programs are open to the public, and with the exception of Alumni Convocation are free of charge.

During the past few decades theological education has been undergoing change. The change is more perceptible with regard to the gender, age, and racial/ethnic composition of faculty, staff and students. Patterns of seminary attendance, academic schedule and the structure of the curricula are undergoing change. With the advent of computers, Internet and modern technology, new and creative modes of delivery of education have been developed. Students have exhibited diverse motivations and vocational aspirations. Degrees have multiplied, theological disciplines have become specialized and sources of financial support have shifted. The cost of theological education, dwindling support from denominations, debt load of students, pressure to reduce duration requirements, have all raised serious questions about the quality and sustainability of seminary education over the long haul.

These changes to some extent reflect societal changes that have impacted the church. The social location of the church and the long-stand privileges the culture had extended to Christian churches have now diminished. The religious landscape of our society has undergone change. The face of Christianity too has changed due to immigration and migration of people. Mainline denominations have experienced significant decline in membership. Denominations and denominational identity have weakened. In short the ecology of theological education has changed and will experience further changes. Much has changed and more changes are on the way!

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