The name, Union Presbyterian Seminary, will not become official until a later date after the necessary legal and logistical changes have been made.
President Brian Blount explained the significance of name changes to the faculty and staff on May 18: “Names and name changes are incredibly, almost painfully, important in the biblical narratives. When Jacob becomes Israel a phenomenal shift at some almost primordial level has taken place. This is a man who like his people now wrestles with God. When Simon becomes Peter, this man is transformed into the hope of what he can be: not rocky soil which provides insufficient sustenance for the sower’s seeds to live, but a stable rock upon which a church can be built. When Saul becomes Paul, neither the sound nor the spelling changes are dramatic, but in this very subtle shift, we have an astounding new creation.”
The school’s new name aims to reflect its nearly 200 years of service as a training ground for church leaders and its new strategic plan to reshape the way students are prepared for the church’s varied ministries. It also simplifies the name that resulted from the confederation of Union with PSCE in the early 1990s.
The announced name change caps off the adoption of a new strategic plan that was officially approved by the Board of Trustees in February 2009.
That plan calls for a technology-rich curriculum that allows students to shape their educational program by employing any of the offerings from the school’s three educational platforms in Charlotte, N.C., (part-time on weekends), in Richmond, Va., (fulltime in-residence) and its Extended Campus Program (with courses that combine distance education with periodic, intensive class sessions on campus in Richmond). Incoming classes of students in Charlotte and Richmond will gather in cohort groups before they arrive on campus, during their degree work, and after their graduation.
Also, the seminary’s Center for Ministry and Leadership Development will have an expanded role to help local churches develop the leadership skills and theological insight of congregational leaders.
Copies of the strategic vision may be found at www.union-psce.edu/futureofunion-psce/strategicplan.php, and a video of President Blount’s reflections on the new name is available at http://www.union-psce.edu/futureofunion-psce/message.php.