From the ground up

Over the last weekend in May the Reimagining Theological Education project gathered a group of professors, clergy, seminary presidents and administrators together to dream about the future of theological education and then to distill those dreams into tangible steps for innovating and reinventing training programs for leaders of faith communities.

At the gathering we discussed white papers by Callid Keefe-Perry, Cristian De La Rosa, Kelly Lamon, and Philip Clayton on a range of topics, including: what qualities of Christian leadership are necessary in the US, who needs to be involved in conversations about theological education and who has traditionally been excluded, how can we reshape our pedagogy for effective teaching/mentoring/training of religious leaders, and how can we better develop credentialing models for our leaders?

These questions sparked discussion that carried over into meal times and into after hours conversation. During the course of our barely 48 hours together some of us outlined potential new models for Master of Divinity programs, while others began to think about ways to pay for theological education. As a result, we are now attempting to organize our reinvention of theological education around four major questions: what will we teach, how will we teach it, how will we pay for it, and how do we create new models that encompass each of these aspects?

We came away from this meeting with some concrete steps toward building new models of theological education—models that will undoubtedly look different from anything we’ve seen in the past.  Those around the table converged on creative ways to foster networks of networks across diverse communities that will spiritually inform and theologically train religious leaders.  These networks can encourage what is already working well, resource those working to break down existing paradigms in theological education, and provide creative space for truly inventive and out of the box visions for what theological education can become. The collaborative energy in the room on Sunday morning was palpable and allowed each of us to walk away with a sense of hope for the future and the strong desire to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Read more about our upcoming National Summit and register here.