Author Topic: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries  (Read 18479 times)

Chuck

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2014, 02:57:05 PM »
According to the webpage of these seminaries,
this was their student enrollment in 2010.

Chicago.........290
Philly.............260
Gettysburg.....228
Columbus.......155
Dubuque........153
St. Paul..........Not Available

When you consider that those numbers
represent 1st year, 2nd year, Internships,
and 4th year students, then for example
Dubuque has about 38 students in each
class.  Interesting situations.

Luther Seminary's 2012-2013 enrollment for all programs was 764 students.
of which 52% (~397) were MDiv students.
Chuck Ruthroff

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. óGeorge Bernard Shaw

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2014, 02:58:35 PM »
Thanks Scott, I knew Luther Seminary at
St. Paul was the largest ELCA seminary.
They listed 40 faculty members so that
would match up with 764 students.

Luther has been the flagship seminary
for the ELCA with an illustrious faculty
for many decades.

Chuck

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2014, 03:14:07 PM »
So, if we use the above numbers (understanding that there are several approximations there, and one year is difficult to extrapolate):
Ave. Retirements per year:                            ~430
Ave. Loss of Congregations (1995-2012):      -    75
Replacement pastors needed:                          355
MDiv students graduating:                               371


Pretty close for back of the envelope calculation.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 03:22:06 PM by Chuck »
Chuck Ruthroff

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. óGeorge Bernard Shaw

peter_speckhard

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2014, 03:43:10 PM »
At the risk of sounding like an anti-intellectual hick, I think the future of pastoral formation might have to be divorced from academic degrees and accreditation altogether. The problem is that seminaries that have to support themselves end up having to rely on student loans to keep afloat, which means the students have to rely on salaried church jobs to stay afloat, which means we end up with a tail wagging the dog.

Coach-Rev

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2014, 03:58:42 PM »
Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.


Indeed.
Neither the LCMC nor the NALC have published numbers, so it is hard to know. It is telling, though, that 2 denominations who like to shout about how they are about "making disciples" don't seem to have any way of tracking that.

Looks like the NALC is showing 130,000 members.
http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/

Welcome back Pr Donna!

Just in time for me to pull the plug once for all, as many others before me have done.

GalRevRedux

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2014, 04:32:54 PM »
Frankly, if the numbers in 2013 of ELCA + LCMC + NALC is greater than the ELCA in 2008, I'd be very happy. We are to grow the kingdom of God, not our denominations.


Indeed.
Neither the LCMC nor the NALC have published numbers, so it is hard to know. It is telling, though, that 2 denominations who like to shout about how they are about "making disciples" don't seem to have any way of tracking that.

Looks like the NALC is showing 130,000 members.
http://thenalc.org/about-us-2/

Welcome back Pr Donna!

Just in time for me to pull the plug once for all, as many others before me have done.

Don't go, Jeff!!! I was looking for someone who might agree with me that "making disciples"  might not be measured, primarily, in numbers and percentages...!
A pastor of the North American Lutheran Church.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2014, 04:40:30 PM »
If "making disciples" is not to be measured by the number of disciples made, then how?
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 05:15:32 PM by Charles_Austin »

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2014, 05:05:19 PM »
Pastor Donna, you are correct.  Jesus called
us to FEED His sheep, not to count them.
We are to make disciples who are life-long
learners of God's Word.  Christ wants mature
disciples who worship Him, witness for Him,
serve Him.

NCLutheran

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #38 on: January 18, 2014, 05:17:44 PM »
Higher education is my family business, so to speak, and I have a lot to say on the topic but I will hold off for now.

First of all, any seminary that is bleeding money, badly in the red, needs to close. Schools, like anything manmade, have finite lifetimes. I don't know if any institution falls in that category, but it was mentioned that Chicago and Philadelphia are on the watch list so that may mean the end of those schools.

For the schools that are left, any one not breaking even needs restructuring. The particulars will be different in each circumstance, but it may mean anything from the seminary folding into a nearby university and becoming a "school" within said school; it could mean a merger with a nearby seminary with one campus closing, or it could mean that the seminary actually expands its offerings if able to do so profitably.

Next, all schools - regardless of financial situation - need to have a serious period of housekeeping and reflection as to the best way forward. To give an example, my undergraduate department had twenty-four professors on the payroll, yet only ten actually taught a class that semester because of the various academic leaves, research projects, etc. That department was given the decision to either let professors go or to face cancellation of its programs altogether. It was a difficult process, especially since all the professors were well liked and appreciated, but the department emerged much stronger and the classes much more applicable to the real world. Colleges by nature attract charismatic, influential people; and this clouds rational decision making in many ways. There simply isn't enough Lutherans and Lutheran money out there to allow escapism into academial ideals.

After those steps would be taken, I would not be surprised if the ELCA only had three or four seminaries left - but those seminaries would be revitalized and ready for the challenges of today's ministry and not the 1950's.

In any situation, I have long felt that the seminaries may best be managed by merging them into one institution with multiple campuses, a la the state university system in many states. A balance of independence and identity while coming under one governance and financial umbrella. Considering that the seminaries are an expression of the church, too, and they should have to adapt to the times the same as the local congregation.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 05:20:37 PM by NCLutheran »

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #39 on: January 18, 2014, 05:31:32 PM »
Mr. Austin, that is a great post and plenty
of ideas to think about.  Appreciate your
efforts to enlighten us.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #40 on: January 18, 2014, 05:46:25 PM »
I, too, like the ideas of the man with the distinguished name.

Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #41 on: January 18, 2014, 08:58:21 PM »
I, too, appreciated R.L Austin's comments.  I discuss the topic of Lutheran seminaries periodically with a worshiper in my congregation.  He is a retired ELCA pastor, though he prefers to say that he is retired LCA, but that is just in jest.  He was born into the ULCA, attended Maywood, then finished at LSTC.  Later he did some work at Trinity in Columbus but not for a degree or anything.  He wonders about the number of ELCA seminaries (thinks there are too many) yet thinks the LCMS ought to have at least one more given our size.  He also finds it pretty amazing that LCMS clergy all seem to know the faculty at each seminary.  I tell him that I think it is something neat and helps us maintain our connection to each other. 

In our congregation we pray for our seminaries and support the Joint Seminary Fund.  I think we are well served by both of our schools. 

Jeremy (SL, 1999) 
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

GalRevRedux

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #42 on: January 19, 2014, 07:33:43 AM »
The ELCA underwent a deep study of Theological Education (headed by Dr. Phyllis Anderson) in the early 1990s which concluded that 8 seminaries would not be viable in the future. There was a recommendation that "clusters" be formed and educational responsibilities be divided up among the entities. (a crude summary, but I remember it that way - I was on a seminary board at that time).

The reality, in my experience, was that the seminaries instead engaged in entrenchment and were seeking to stake out their territories, so to speak, in order to NOT be merged/purged out of existence. You don't hear much about the clusters anymore. I don't see that the recommendations bore too much fruit.

I thought there was a lot of common sense in the report and recommendations. But that is just MHO. I think Mr. Austin demonstrates similar common sense in his well-received thoughts, above.

I couldn't find the report online. I did find a document from ATS which summarizes the document and surveys what happened after it came to the 1993 assembly.

http://www.ats.edu/uploads/resources/publications-presentations/theological-education/2000-theological-education-v36-sup.pdf

Perhaps this will contribute to the discussion.

Donna
A pastor of the North American Lutheran Church.

Dave Benke

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #43 on: January 19, 2014, 08:13:10 AM »
Higher education is my family business, so to speak, and I have a lot to say on the topic but I will hold off for now.

First of all, any seminary that is bleeding money, badly in the red, needs to close. Schools, like anything manmade, have finite lifetimes. I don't know if any institution falls in that category, but it was mentioned that Chicago and Philadelphia are on the watch list so that may mean the end of those schools.

For the schools that are left, any one not breaking even needs restructuring. The particulars will be different in each circumstance, but it may mean anything from the seminary folding into a nearby university and becoming a "school" within said school; it could mean a merger with a nearby seminary with one campus closing, or it could mean that the seminary actually expands its offerings if able to do so profitably.

Next, all schools - regardless of financial situation - need to have a serious period of housekeeping and reflection as to the best way forward. To give an example, my undergraduate department had twenty-four professors on the payroll, yet only ten actually taught a class that semester because of the various academic leaves, research projects, etc. That department was given the decision to either let professors go or to face cancellation of its programs altogether. It was a difficult process, especially since all the professors were well liked and appreciated, but the department emerged much stronger and the classes much more applicable to the real world. Colleges by nature attract charismatic, influential people; and this clouds rational decision making in many ways. There simply isn't enough Lutherans and Lutheran money out there to allow escapism into academial ideals.

After those steps would be taken, I would not be surprised if the ELCA only had three or four seminaries left - but those seminaries would be revitalized and ready for the challenges of today's ministry and not the 1950's.

In any situation, I have long felt that the seminaries may best be managed by merging them into one institution with multiple campuses, a la the state university system in many states. A balance of independence and identity while coming under one governance and financial umbrella. Considering that the seminaries are an expression of the church, too, and they should have to adapt to the times the same as the local congregation.

Great post.  I tried recently to do the math on my college/seminary training in terms of cost.  Back that far, of course,
a) the seminaries were full of students
b) the seminaries received actual financial subsidy from the national church body.
c) young adults could work in factory/physicial activity jobs that paid, even seasonally
So I had a summer position that paid 3 1/2 times the minimum wage, with union bennies.  In today's dollars, I made about $14000 for twelve weeks.  And that was the basic tuition package for the Senior College and Sem (again in today's dollars).  Working during the school year got the fees and extra stuff paid. 
BUT - that summer position adds up to over a $50000 a year job in today's dollars, in a factory, when I was 20.  As far as I know, those jobs are long gone. 
AND - the number for that college/seminary annual tuition/fees is at $40000 plus. 
AND - there's no guarantee of positions with sufficient compensation to pay back the debt I've accumulated. 
AND -  the prospect of a lifetime's worth of 50 parishioner attendees out there in front of me on a Sunday holding my compensation in their hands is not always comforting either, since their expectation is that I double that attendance for them without discomforting them in any way.

That being said, parish pastoral ministry is still and will remain the highest/best vocation on the planet in the "service" industry, serving Lord and Church.  Completely recommended for those secure in their baptismal identity and eternal destiny and willing to set out on the voyage in the little boat with God's people!

Dave Benke

Charles_Austin

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #44 on: January 19, 2014, 09:24:42 AM »
I think I said it before: When I went to seminary (dodging the dinosaurs on the way to class) the tuition was $150 per quarter; and half of that was paid by my synod.