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Thinking Out Loud

The Cost of Bridges

by Michael Jinkins | Apr 21, 2017

Bridge iconLouisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is known as a school that builds bridges because we prepare our students to span the gulfs separating people and groups in the name of Jesus Christ.

In addition to a curriculum steeped in biblical studies, theology and ethics, every student here is taught how to listen generously to others and to speak with a consciousness of how their words may be heard. Our nationally recognized Black Church Studies Program and our Doors 2 Dialogue Program for Interfaith Cooperation develop the capacities in our graduates to listen, learn and work beside persons from a variety of cultural, social, political, racial and religious backgrounds.

We build bridges.

There is no worthier cause, especially today when division has become rife in our society.

Bridges are among the most beautiful creations of humanity, whether made from steel or cast in human flesh and spirits. But bridges cost a lot to build, and not everyone wants to pay for them.

One of the greatest surprises I have faced as president of Louisville Seminary has been this: it is easier in today's world to raise money to build walls than to build bridges. We see it everywhere. It is hard to turn on the television or radio or computer without hearing insults hurled by one group at another. And so much money today chases after the fear and hatred - wealth only too ready to fuel the forces contributing to an increasingly splintered society.

Why do walls attract so much funding, while bridges attract relatively little support?

Maybe some folks take for granted that the social fabric will hold no matter how much stress is placed on it. But leading social historians have warned for years that we cannot afford to take for granted the social compact that holds us together. The compact must be renewed in every generation.

Maybe they think the bridges will evolve on their own, without a lot of human effort. This has certainly not been my experience.

Maybe some folks assume that the bridge builders already have lots of institutional support and don't need their financial help. After all, their cause is so good. Most people don't know, however, that a school like our seminary receives less than 1% of its annual budget from our own denomination.

Maybe some folks just don't realize how crucial their personal investment is for the success of bridge builders in our society. Perhaps they are unaware that 95% of the funding that makes it possible to educate our future church leaders, ministers, counselors and social workers is provided by individuals who share the vision of building bridges in a broken world.

Please help us make sure we have a future of bridge builders
in the name of Jesus Christ!

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