By Mary Donovan Turner, Carl Patton Professor of Preaching at PSR
A classic definition of theological education comes from H. Richard Neibuhr’s The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry: A Provocative Interpretation of the American Church and Its Purpose and a Rethinking of the Aims of Theological Education written in 1956. He states that the purpose of the church, and thus the intellectual activity that undergirds it, can only have “the glory of God and the welfare of companions as its ends.” In many ways over the past week we observed on learning journeys how different seminaries use different kinds of language and different curriculum to invite students to engage the welfare of those who share the earth with them. As we think about the theological foundation for our work together, direction statements and core values, and as we search for the language that is right for our own context, interests and theological persuasions, I offer this list of words and phrases that surfaced in our conversations in Seattle and the South Bay….
- Global Well Being
- Radical Hospitality
- Meaning Making
- Immersive Learning
- Spiritually Grounded Leadership
- Practices of Engagement
We saw how light and open spaces helped make conversations about community, hospitality, and well being more possible and how open space reinforces important notions of connection and reconciliation. We saw art – visual metaphors – that stir the imagination. We heard the varied ways that schools are making the community around them their “hub” so that education is not an isolated endeavor but one that is grounded in and responsive to adjacent community, teaching not only theology but also the social sciences and the study of culture, inviting engagement with pressing social and political issues of our time.
As I said after last Wednesday’s experience of Devin’s presentation and the panel – I was inspired. – MDT