Author Topic: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries  (Read 19196 times)

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #45 on: January 19, 2014, 11:09:33 AM »
According to Pastor Donna's comments, there
was a serious attempt to study the issue of
8 ELCA seminaries already in the mid-1990's.
Yet, they simply dug in and refused to heed
any advice.  The ELCA still has 6 free-standing
seminaries which continue to engage in the
battle of the survival of the fittest.  It seems
that only the lack of financial resources will
force each seminary to take some type of action.

Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #46 on: January 19, 2014, 01:56:08 PM »
According to Pastor Donna's comments, there
was a serious attempt to study the issue of
8 ELCA seminaries already in the mid-1990's.
Yet, they simply dug in and refused to heed
any advice.  The ELCA still has 6 free-standing
seminaries which continue to engage in the
battle of the survival of the fittest.  It seems
that only the lack of financial resources will
force each seminary to take some type of action.
Boards of Trustees are fiduciaries for the future and the success of the institutions of which they are trustees. That is not "digging in and refusing to heed any advice." No seminary is obliged to commit hara-kiri for the sake of a projected greater stability of the whole non-system.

If it is really not doing well and its funders tell it that they won't be increasing their support, then the Board may well decide to pull back, refocus its mission, or close. But a Board should not volunteer its institution for dissolution on the basis of punditry in the church or outside of it.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #47 on: January 19, 2014, 02:02:31 PM »
Fr. S, How many RC sems are there in the US, any idea?

Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #48 on: January 19, 2014, 02:51:57 PM »
Fr. S, How many RC sems are there in the US, any idea?

Not really, LutherMan. But I'd guess 15-20 or more [actually, 41!]. There's probably a place to find that information, but I need to set up for football.  :)

Peace,
Michael

If this link works, it will tell you all:
cara.georgetown.edu/Publications/Overview2012-13-FINAL.pdf
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 02:58:28 PM by Michael Slusser »
Fr. Michael Slusser
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #49 on: January 19, 2014, 03:01:03 PM »
As noted upstream, the ELCA as the ELCA has little control over its seminaries, which are for the most part independently constituted institutions. It can make recommendations, it can say what it thinks it needs in terms of seminary education, but it cannot force the merger or closing of any individual seminary. Those decisions are totally in the hands of seminary boards.

LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #50 on: January 19, 2014, 04:03:03 PM »
Not sure how accurate these wiki stats are but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_seminaries

United States

According to the 2010 Official Catholic Directory, as of 2009 there are 189 seminaries with 5,131 students in the United States; 3,319 diocesan seminarians and 1,812 religious seminarians. By the official 2011 statistics, there are 5,247 seminarians (3,394 diocesan and 1,853 religious) in the United States.

Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #51 on: January 19, 2014, 04:36:37 PM »
Not sure how accurate these wiki stats are but:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_Catholic_seminaries

United States

According to the 2010 Official Catholic Directory, as of 2009 there are 189 seminaries with 5,131 students in the United States; 3,319 diocesan seminarians and 1,812 religious seminarians. By the official 2011 statistics, there are 5,247 seminarians (3,394 diocesan and 1,853 religious) in the United States.
That includes several categories, no doubt: theologates, college seminaries, high school seminaries and goodness knows what. The CARA document I linked to is very precise and up-to-date. It says 41 theologates (down from 43 the year before because of a merger and a closing), i.e., the 4-year institutions preparing students directly for ordination..

Peace,
Michael
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LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #52 on: January 19, 2014, 04:48:00 PM »
Thanks for the breakdown, good info...

Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #53 on: January 19, 2014, 05:24:56 PM »
Thanks for the breakdown, good info...
From p. 12 of the CARA report:
The figure at right groups the theologates
according to their reported enrollment for
the 2012-2013 academic year, displaying
the consolidation that occurred with the
closing of two more theologates. One in
three theologates (14 of the 41 theologates)
are relatively large, enrolling 100 or more
seminarians. Four in ten (16 of the 41
theologates) have between 50 and 99
seminarians enrolled, and another one in
four (11 in all) have fewer than 50
seminarians enrolled this year.


I imagine that only some smaller Lutheran churches (AFLC, Lutheran Brethren, ELS) work with numbers as low in the third category above. IMO such seminaries have something to teach our churches about possible economies of smaller scale.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

John_Hannah

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #54 on: January 19, 2014, 05:50:37 PM »
The LCMS may not be much better off than the ELCA. I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor. We should give our best moral and ethical consideration to how many seminarians we actually need before too many get deeply in debt with no where else to go. One seminary may have to go.
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

LutherMan

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #55 on: January 19, 2014, 05:58:25 PM »
One seminary may have to go.
Then it should be St Louis, since it is the only property that can be sold...

carlvehse

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #56 on: January 19, 2014, 06:08:14 PM »
I understand that there are now about 2,000 (out of 6,000) LCMS congregation that cannot afford to have a pastor.

From what reference or source do you understand that are now about 2,000 LCMS congregations that cannot afford to have a pastor?   Also, by "cannot afford" do you include churches who share a pastor with one or more other congregations?

 

Dave Likeness

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #57 on: January 19, 2014, 06:08:48 PM »
 LCMS President Matthew Harrison has
repeatedly voiced his strong support that
we maintain two seminaries.   There is
no strong sentiment in the LCMS that
would bring a resolution to our national
LCMS convention to close either Fort Wayne
or St. Louis.

Bottom Line: Both of our seminaries continue
to have new buildings added or remodeled.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #58 on: January 19, 2014, 06:13:59 PM »
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.


The ELCA Study of Theological Education, approved by the 1995 CWA, seems to have gotten lost in the latest ELCA website update.  As a 1992 graduate from PLTS, which has just become the school of theology for California Lutheran University, allow me to offer a less bleak picture of the seminary boards and the seminary clusters. 

I could not say how, uh, enthusiastically the PLTS Board, Administration, and Faculty truly were about being clustered with Luther Sem.  Frankly I expect many of them resented the very idea.  But that clustering enabled PLTS to greatly improve a perpetual weakness, the actual administration of the school and its property.  PLTS alone had never had the resources to do that well, even in the '50s and '60s, and as the nature of the administration of theological schools grew more complex in the '80s and '90s, PLTS was stuck years behind.  (I worked briefly in the business office myself the summer I arrived, and had a nice relationship with the Administrative VPs -- yes, that's plural -- before departing for internship.) 

Some of the school's leadership recognized this, but until the ELCA "forced" the clustering, internal forces resisted moving forward.  Much of the school's business management was effectively taken over by Luther, and even academics became a more co-operative effort of both schools.  Apart from clustering, PLTS would not have survived to the new millennium.  But it meant, especially initially, being partially dependent upon the resources of Luther Seminary.  While far from an ideal situation (either PLTS competently managing itself or being fully integrated as a West Coast campus for Luther would have been simpler), it might have worked for quite a bit longer had Dr. Bliese's administration recognized the collapsing of Luther's own finances in the latter part of the last decade and acted on it.  Of course, church institutions don't seem to do that any better than congregations -- or most other enterprises for that matter.  But PLTS could no longer financially or administratively lean on Luther, rather ironic when its current President, Dr. Phyllis Anderson, had been the Director of the ELCA Study of Theological Education.  It's very survival depended upon another option.

But this post is about the reception of "clustering," and while I am most familiar with the Western Cluster of PLTS and Luther, I've been able to see some of the workings of the Covenant Cluster (Wartburg, LSTC, Trinity) as a parish pastor, and even a bit of the Eastern (Gettysburg, Mt. Airy, Southern). For "traditional" seminary education, the clustering didn't change things as much as was possible or hoped for, and Wartburg and LSTC did not (when it came to relating to our synod beyond synod assembly reports) always play very well together.  But newer forms of seminary education were enabled because of the clustering (whether they are better or not is a separate matter).  And I would not be surprised that the actual implementation of clustered, uh, activities hasn't work as well as the PR says.  After all, PLTS always lifted up the opportunities of being part of the GTU as an attraction for constituencies, but in "normal" times MDiv students were steered away from actually taking advantage of courses of the other schools.

And, of course, clustering merely stalled the effects of something that not only spurred the 1988-94 Study, but a matter recognized some 50 years ago in the ELCA's predecessor bodies, and noted still earlier by some observers.  The ELCA has always had too many seminaries.  When I was at PLTS, Luther Northwestern's student body was nearly the same size as the other 7 sems combined!  The issue isn't that we ought to close at least 2 of them, but which ones to close.  Especially when each of the eight offers, or at least has the heritage and continued potential, to offer something unique that the other schools cannot.  Then again, whether they are actually doing so is another matter entirely.  PLTS' uniqueness as the West Coast seminary made sense when nearly all her grads remained in the Western US and Canada.  But does it make sense in today's ELCA, when her grads go across this church?

Cal Lu has deep pockets, at least for now, so we may not be required to face that question for PLTS and the GTU.  (Similarly for Lenoir-Rhyne and Southern).  Yet, already one GTU school (the Franciscan School of Theology, now affiliated with the University of San Diego) is moving to Southern California.  And the Jesuit School of Theology, while remaining in Berkeley, is now a graduate school of Santa Clara University (a Jesuit university near the San Jose airport -- interestingly not the nearer University of San Francisco, also Jesuit). 

Pax, Steven+
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 06:16:24 PM by The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS »
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Michael Slusser

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Re: Questions About 8 ELCA Seminaries
« Reply #59 on: January 19, 2014, 07:06:19 PM »
  And the Jesuit School of Theology, while remaining in Berkeley, is now a graduate school of Santa Clara University (a Jesuit university near the San Jose airport -- interestingly not the nearer University of San Francisco, also Jesuit). 

Pax, Steven+
It's the history. Before moving to Berkeley, JSTB was Alma College in Los Gatos, 13 miles southwest of Santa Clara University. It never had a historical or administrative connection with USF. I was at JSTB for two months in 2001, and I don't remember any back-and-forth with USF.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian