This is my article for the February 2016 newsletters.
One of the biggest news stories of the new year in Lutheran circles is that two ELCA seminaries, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg have announced that over the next 18 months, they will work to close both schools and open a “new school of theology” for the beginning of the 2017 academic year.
Discussions between Gettysburg and Philadelphia about cooperating have been ongoing for years. The structure of theological training for pastors isn’t working as it once did. Of the eight ELCA seminaries, three have merged with Lutheran universities to make their operations more efficient.
Enrollment is down across seminaries of all traditions because people struggle with balancing their call to serve God and the Church with the reality that they will spend four years pursuing their Master’s degree, and accumulating a conservative estimate of $40,000 of student debt.
As I have been following what is going on at my old school, I wonder how this idea of one school with two campuses will work. Will professors commute? Will classes be held online, with a professor at one campus teaching in two classrooms? Will the professors even be on campus? How do you collaborate with other students? How can you study with someone? Will a student community and camaraderie develop?
The last is the biggest question I have, because that is one of the most valuable things I took from my time on the Ridge of Gettysburg, the love and support of classmates and friends. When I got back to Gettysburg for the Winter semester after my dad died, I came back to a ready-made support group of classmates who had also recently lost a parent. When I had to leave just before graduation because my mom was ill, I got constant texts, calls and messages to check in on me. On my office chair at Our Savior’s is a prayer quilt with notes of love and support that was waiting for me when I got back for graduation. The care of the community got me through those times when I wondered if I was truly called by God, or was having the worst mid-life crisis ever.
So I worry about this New School. But I know most of the people involved in planning and creating it. I trust them, and pray for them – I ask you to pray for them as well.
If I hadn’t been attentive to your concerns and worries about our new arrangement, and what that will mean, I am more attuned to your anxieties.
But we are not creating a New Church. We are restructuring a support for each church. We are beginning by taking one resource, me, and sharing me through three churches, and spreading my expenses three ways as well.
These are changing and anxious times across the Church. I pray for calm, wisdom, courage, compassion and peace for all involved.
Articles about the LTSG-LTSP combination.
Information about the New School + The New School Proposal
Questions about the New School + An article from one of staff at Gettysburg
An article about the union
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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