She and her husband are excited about what God is up to, both in their lives and through the work and witness of our congregation. They’re both dedicated to serving Jesus, and they can’t wait to see what the future holds as Peggie moves through the candidacy process.
Of course, being “middle-aged” they have kids in college, reside in a home that probably lost 50% of its value in the recent housing crash, and live deeply rooted in the community. Moving to another state for three years of seminary, only to relocate again after graduation, is simply not feasible; in fact, such a move would amount to poor stewardship in many ways.
Consequently, Peggie is taking M.Div. classes at the extension campus of a seminary associated with another denomination — a church more inclined to put resources to work in support of vision.
My friend has struggled to find the right distance-learning program, one that features online opportunities that help fulfill our presbytery’s candidacy requirement for at least one semester at a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminary. Just this week, more than halfway through her M.Div., Peggie is completing the registration process with Dubuque Seminary. The school may be physically located in Iowa, but the faculty is willing to show up anywhere, including a small study in a modest family home outside of Tampa.
Dubuque has been a pioneer in the field, offering a sampling of M.Div. online courses since the summer of 2004. The option is perfect, the school’s Web site explains, for Presbyterian students at non-Presbyterian seminaries who need to complete denomination-specific courses.
Meanwhile, we live in Florida, a state teeming with 18 million people — believers and seekers alike — all hungry for a cutting-edge reformed witness that offers the Gospel message, spirit-charged ministry, disciple making, and ongoing mission and service throughout the world.
We are in a sense America’s frontier land for this age. And, like those Presbyterian settlers on the “other side” of the Appalachian Mountains in the early 19th century, we’d like to see seminary training offered right here, where we can harness the enthusiasm of those called both to serve and bloom exactly where God planted them.
Thanks, Dubuque, for being willing to engage reality and live in the 21st century with the people the church should be committed to serve.
I’d like to call on Columbia, Austin, San Francisco, Princeton, or Union (or, better yet, a combined effort) to move into the future with us. Climb down from your ivory towers, why don’t you?
» online degree-programs, anchored by occasional weekends on the home campus
» a cooperative venture, with satellite classes offered in Orlando or Tampa.
Maybe the General Assembly could commission a team to look at exactly what our denomination might possibly do to help coordinate such an effort.
How can we possibly claim we’re committed to training leaders who are prepared to raise up the next generation of reformed witness when we’re still so reluctant to engage the realities that define this one?
But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Fact is, the possibilities are endless.