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Seminary Support Network Attends Lecture Series at Louisville Seminary

by Ashley Schaffner | Aug 03, 2013

Subconference of Big Tent 2013 brings clergy, elders to campus to hear lectures from Michael Jinkins, others

Led by Louisville Seminary alum Lee Hinson-Hasty (MDiv ‘95), and as part of Big Tent’s annual meeting, a group of 50 leaders from the Seminary Support Network spent the afternoon at Louisville Seminary for fellowship, worship and lectures by Seminary President Michael Jinkins, Dean Susan R. Garrett and members of the Seminary’s Institutional Advancement team. Click here for photos.

"Today was a poignant reminder of why seminaries matter for the renewal of the church,” said Hinson-Hasty. 

The Seminary Support Network is a division of the PC(USA) that deeply values theological education, particularly the 10 PC(USA) seminaries. These pastors and elders are from presbyteries all across the country, and are committed to advocating for theological education and PC(USA) seminaries in their ministry settings.

Following a luncheon in the Seminary’s historic Gardencourt, Jinkins spoke for an hour on the necessity of graduate-level theological education. “I want us all to make the argument for theological education for the sake of our Churches’ life and integrity, and for the ministry of God’s word in God’s world,” said Jinkins.

In reference to uneducated leaders who use hatred, fear and anxiety tactics in the name of devotion to God, Jinkins drew applause and a rash of “Amens” when he said, “We must be a thinking faith. Education won’t solve the social and societal ills or deliver us from evil. But it will teach us that we don’t need to be mean or stupid to follow Jesus.”  

Vice President of Institutional Advancement Linda Medley and Senior Development Director Sally Pendleton led a presentation on Covenant for the Future, the Seminary’s strategic plan that will eliminate student tuition, bolster Seminary programs, improve on-campus housing and computer systems and eventually provide support for student living expenses.  

“As a trustee of a college myself, I share the concern of working with students to give them an affordable education. So, I’m very, very pleased to see Louisville Seminary moving in the direction of providing a free seminary education,” said Liz McDowell, synod representative of the Theological Education Fund for the Synod of the Northeast.

Dean Garrett, who is also a professor of New Testament at Louisville Seminary, led a talk focused on generous listening, the skill of engaging in crucial conversation with those with whom we disagree, and the importance of training seminarians to do ministry by being public theologians in today’s world. Garrett shared her goals of engaging students in real-world biblical interpretation and cultivating an attitude of generous listening among students through her award-winning course required for all Seminarians, “Transforming Seminary Education.”   

“This course is wonderful. There should be a way to structure conversation and model for presbyteries a respectful dialogue that employs generous listening around topics on which there is disagreement. We are brothers and sisters in Christ; how wonderful it would be to engage in respectful dialogue to try and understand one another,” said Al Gephart, Seminary Support Network representative of the Synod of the Southwest in Tempe, Ariz. 

Bisi Shofu, Seminary Support  Network representative for New Brunswick Presbytery in New Jersey said, “As a recent seminary graduate, I was quite pleased with Dean Garrett’s presentation. It is essential to be able to engage in meaningful conversation about modern issues.”

“The quote Dean Garrett gave about the student who said, ‘Give me my arm and leg back, I’ve never stretched so far before,’ speaks to me as an educator who cares passionately about stretching the minds of my students. To realize this level of stretching is happening at Louisville Seminary… that’s true education,” McDowell commented.

Following the talks, the group attended a prayer service in Caldwell Chapel, where Garrett, Pendleton and Chapel Worship Coordinator and Women’s Center Director Lauren Jones Mayfield led worship.

 About ‘Covenant for the Future,’ Louisville Seminary’s strategic plan
Louisville Seminary's 'Covenant for the Future' seeks to eliminate seminary tuition debt, which is a persistent problem among seminary graduates across the nation. Because they will not be burdened by seminary debt, our graduates will be free to go wherever God calls them when they graduate. They may be called to lead a congregation, to develop a new church, to establish a nontraditional worshiping community, to serve as a marriage and family therapist or a hospital chaplain or to create an as-yet-unimagined position as servant and leader for the world.

About Louisville Seminary
Founded in 1853, Louisville Seminary offers an inclusive and diverse learning community, welcoming students from wide ecumenical backgrounds while maintaining its long, historic commitment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Louisville Seminary is committed to building bridges across the world's religious, racial and cultural divides. It is distinguished by its nationally-recognized marriage and family therapy and field education programs, the scholarship and church service among its faculty and a commitment to training women and men to participate in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ.

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