Author Topic: Theological education crisis...  (Read 5341 times)

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #90 on: May 25, 2016, 04:29:32 PM »
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."

Your example seems to show that Clayton doesn't keep out the 99%.   ;)

We lived 1 mile south, in Maplewood, between the Sem and Schlafly Bottleworks. Seemed appropriate.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but itís not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Mark Brown

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #91 on: May 25, 2016, 04:51:45 PM »
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."

Your example seems to show that Clayton doesn't keep out the 99%.   ;)

We lived 1 mile south, in Maplewood, between the Sem and Schlafly Bottleworks. Seemed appropriate.

Lived in the city not far from CPH and the old sem.  I could show you a picture of the crack house at the end of the block and the picture of me with the next door weed dealer.  The dope dealer's market was fantastic.  Tower Grove area was clean enough for Clayton kids to come down to, but scary enough they would be looking over their shoulders.  I knew my neighbor was making a sale when a 17 year old white girl in a BMW was parked in front of my place.  She'd make her beau actually get out of the car.  Mike used to say he'd make the guy stand there a little longer just to see if he'd piss his pants waiting for weed. He kept needling me about cracking the seminary market and he thought all us THE-O-LO-Gins needed some.  Told him "they live in Clayton, but not 'in Clayton'. Couldn't afford his wares." I've got more and older kids now, so I doubt I could do that again.  Enough of a realist/conformist to want better schools.  But if they had an online academy offering...

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #92 on: May 25, 2016, 04:52:36 PM »
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

This is true. The Synod would have no revenue from closing CTSFW - we would have only the expenses. Plus the new library is massive, modern and has an amazing technological infrastructure.

On the other hand, CSL was at one time said to be valued at $120,000,000 due to location. I have no idea if that is accurate but, in any case, it is a valuable piece of real estate. Its sale would fund a unified Fort Wayne campus through a tremendous endowment.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 05:05:34 PM by Daniel L. Gard »

Mark Brown

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #93 on: May 25, 2016, 05:14:22 PM »
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

This is true. The Synod would have no revenue from closing CTSFW - we would have only the expenses. Plus the new library is massive, modern and has an amazing technological infrastructure.

On the other hand, CSL was at one time said to be valued at $120,000,000 due to location. I have no idea if that is accurate but, in any case, it is a valuable piece of real estate. Its sale would fund a unified Fort Wayne campus with a tremendous endowment.
Sounds like a good 2019 convention overture, combined with a the stipulation of a true online program based out of Ft. Wayne.  What do you think, joint Indiana/Eastern district resolution?  Whereas the Clayton campus is worth $$$, whereas the entire student body could be handled at Fr. Wayne, whereas there is a great need to work with the entire continental US as well as overseas in a cost effective way.  Resolve to sell CSL, resolve proceeds create Ft. Wayne residential endowment, resolve that Ft. Wayne will implement a true online M.Div leading to ordination before 2021 school year that does not require residential stays that defeat the purpose.

Voelker

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #94 on: May 25, 2016, 05:21:40 PM »
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

This is true. The Synod would have no revenue from closing CTSFW - we would have only the expenses. Plus the new library is massive, modern and has an amazing technological infrastructure.

On the other hand, CSL was at one time said to be valued at $120,000,000 due to location. I have no idea if that is accurate but, in any case, it is a valuable piece of real estate. Its sale would fund a unified Fort Wayne campus with a tremendous endowment.
Sounds like a good 2019 convention overture, combined with a the stipulation of a true online program based out of Ft. Wayne.  What do you think, joint Indiana/Eastern district resolution?  Whereas the Clayton campus is worth $$$, whereas the entire student body could be handled at Fr. Wayne, whereas there is a great need to work with the entire continental US as well as overseas in a cost effective way.  Resolve to sell CSL, resolve proceeds create Ft. Wayne residential endowment, resolve that Ft. Wayne will implement a true online M.Div leading to ordination before 2021 school year that does not require residential stays that defeat the purpose.
Transplant the CSL faculty and you might be on to something.

Dave Benke

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #95 on: May 25, 2016, 06:10:34 PM »
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."

OK - how many of our synodical schools fall into that category?  I'm thinking three others:
Bronxville - one of the dozen wealthiest zip codes anywhere
River Forest - ditto
Irvine - really nice out there in Orange County

Dave Benke, serving a congregation in the Cypress Hills Section of East New York, Brooklyn - Re-zone #1 for the ongoing gentrification of NYC; a two family home in Bushwick, which was right there with us at the center of the crack wars, now offers two family homes for $1.2 million. 


Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #96 on: May 25, 2016, 06:38:17 PM »
By the way, I oppose closing either of our excellent Seminaries. The 1970s should teach us something. We need both.

Rather, we need to commit resources to strengthening both residential programs. To not form pastors at the Seminaries is a disastrous notion.

Mark_Hofman

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #97 on: May 25, 2016, 06:56:15 PM »
This is an interesting conversation, given the sixteen years I spent working with wonderful people who gave generously to ensure the church has well-formed (world-class, I would say) clergy. Some of what is being tossed around as possibilities are the stuff of legendary conversation going back a couple of decades at least.  Always comes up around convention time.

Some of it could bear a little more scrutiny before being proposed as a course of action.  Complex problems aren't resolved by simple action.

Selling property isn't the panacea of money people think it is. Ft. Wayne's reversion clause is always tossed out but, to my knowledge, has never been verified with clear documents.  The idea that the St. Louis campus is worth $100+ million has never been verified by an appraisal, nor butted up against the expenses tied to an aging campus to determine the final net proceeds.  Its worth is whatever someone is willing to pay for it, not what any of us think its worth should be.

Then there is my "Boeing needs Airbus" theory.  If Boeing were the only company in the world manufacturing commercial airplanes, I wouldn't get on one.  Monopolies are breeding grounds for sloppiness and ZERO innovation due to the lack of healthy competition.

Having been in the mud for some time when it comes to funding theological education, I've become convinced that part of the solution is to shift the cost of the faculty at each seminary OFF of the backs of students (tuition) and onto endowment, preferably endowed chairs. At one time there was very nearly a 1:1 correlation between gross tuition revenue and the cost of the academic program, but the endowments were mostly geared toward helping students pay the cost of tuition with financial aid.  Go bolder.  Endow the faculty. Encourage gifts of all sizes that go into faculty endowment.  Resources targeting student financial aid, then, are freed up to help with living expenses.  The case for facilities maintenance endowment is also strong, so that students aren't shouldering the cost of maintaining beautiful, functional spaces.  That leaves only the costs of the professional and technical staff, including maintenance and facilities.  Why not ONE admissions team, rather than two?  Why not ONE accounting department/system, versus two?  Why not one advancement/development team, rather than two? Shoot, why not ONE Board?  At least stir the pot on that a little bit.

Second idea. With a greater number of students falling into the second-career/alternate career area plus coming in married, the cost of having dormitories and food service on campus is problematic.  But you can't have dorms and dining halls sit empty.   

Instead, beef up the seminaries by having undergraduate pre-seminary students earn their B.A. or B.S. degree as residential students at the seminary campuses.  Form partnerships with area colleges and universities to provide the general ed component (math, science, history, etc.) but fill the dorms with UNDERgraduate students.  Ph.D. and STM candidates can teach the undergrad theology courses to offset their costs of being back at the sem.  It would be a step back toward the 'system' that we've conveniently dismantled over the years and could shorten the path to an M.Div by perhaps a year being on the same campus. Single undergrads fill dorm rooms and require a dining hall. 

The older students, married students and second-career students are mature enough to live off campus and manage those costs themselves without being tied to dorms and dining halls.  And offer both an accelerated track as well as an extended track to meet the academic needs of each individual.  Let students step out for a year or two to pay down debt, and re-enroll without the whole admission process being repeated (maybe it isn't).

AND...there should be a distance learning option/s, spread out over a longer period of time, with variations to serve the needs of individuals who - for truly valid reasons - aren't candidates for a residential program.

Oh, and take an annual church-wide freewill offering every year for the CUS debt until we've paid it off.  It's sucking nearly $1.5 to 2 million a year in worship offerings away from missions/missionaries and seminaries and other Gospel-centered work to make mandatory principal and interest payments. I have the stats on that one in front of me. 

I could go on.  My point is that selling one campus may create as many problems as it attempts to resolve.  Complex problems can't be solved with a single path solution.  We are blessed and I believe we already have that which is required to overcome the immediate problem.  Like Gordian's knot, it could be solved by turning the issue sideways and coming at it from a completely different perspective.  Perhaps that perspective is one of BOTH/AND rather than the normal EITHER/OR. 

But, hey, these are only my opinions. Each idea has its own set of shortcomings and untested assumptions.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 08:05:25 PM by Mark D Hofman »

FrPeters

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #98 on: May 25, 2016, 07:35:12 PM »
Mark makes many good points and I hope that the church will listen to Mark and others to KEEP residential seminary as the primary path while also dealing with strong, effective alternate routes.
Fr Larry Peters
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #99 on: May 25, 2016, 07:44:22 PM »
Another possibility would be to keep the two seminaries but sell off the colleges and universities.  The seminaries are already prepared to educate students who do not get their bachelor's degree from one of our schools.  For teachers and other church work students, again we already have online colloquy programs for students who do not get their degrees from LCMS schools.  The seminaries could also provide a final year for their training much as they have programs to educate Deaconesses, or one campus to do the same.  The money raised could be used to fund and endowment to maintain the seminaries, programs and provide student aid.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
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Pasgolf

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #100 on: May 25, 2016, 10:28:41 PM »
There is also another possibility.  Resurrect the BD and confer it at the colleges of the Synod (including at the residential seminaries to fill up the empty dorms with single males...), in connection with an accredited BA or BS.  With a BD from one of the colleges, intentional formation in ministry and personal devotional life, and an additional year of vicarage formation, a call of the church could be issued. The LC-MS does this for teachers already.  The seminaries could then be true "graduate" institutions, offering the M.Div to those seeking professional advancement, the STM and ThD to those seeking to teach. The notion posed by Mark Hofman of endowed chairs is a very good one.  Should not be limited to sem. How about an endowed chair for pastoral formation at every one of the colleges of the Concordia system?  Being no longer a member of LC-MS, I have no dog in this fight or pony in this show, but I do think the current Lutheran forms of Clergy formation leave much to be desired at too great a cost all around.
Mark (retired pastor, golfs the pastures) Renner