Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seminary Education: What the Church Expects? theme of March 1 Convocation

Bishop Roy Riley
Bishop E. Roy Riley, of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will be the presenter at the Tuesday, March 1 convocation at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). Bishop Riley will speak on the topic "Seminary Education: What the Church Expects?" The convocation is scheduled for 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center on the LTSP campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. The convocation is free and open to the public.

Bishop Riley provides pastoral and administrative leadership to the 180 congregations and almost 80,000 baptized members of the ELCA on the territory of New Jersey. He has led the New Jersey Synod as bishop since 1991, and was re-elected to his current 6 year term at the 2007 synod assembly.

The March 1 Convocation is the latest on the LTSP Theme for the Academic Year 2010-2011, "Theological Education in the Changed Context of the Church and Society." Future convocations include:

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. 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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