Following the advice of this past General Assembly, the next time a feuding family comes into my office seeking pastoral counseling, I guess I should tell them, "Meet less often!" Sounds like absurd, bad advice when spoken to a feuding family, doesn’t it? It is equally bad counsel when spoken by the GA to a denomination which is an extended, feuding family system.
As stated in this column last week, the 10 theological seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) collectively are arguably the most important set of institutions beyond the congregation, with which they have a symbiotic relationship. To the extent that the Presbyterian tradition depends on learned ministers and educated lay people, derived from a deeply ingrained commitment to serving God with the mind, the seminaries are indispensable.
The Presbyterian Outlook is pleased once again to present the list of those Presbyterian graduates from theological institutions across the country, and to honor them as many begin careers in ministry. And all of us join General Assembly Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel in best wishes to each of our graduates.
It is not surprising that my first reaction on reading "A Future for Our Seminaries" was to say, "Of course, that’s right; our seminaries are doing a good job." The intensive work that C. Ellis Nelson, Bob Lynn and I did (along with Larry Jones, the "outsider" who was dean of Howard University Divinity School) as consultants for part of the major study mentioned by Nelson, opened up avenues of thought that could extend over a lifetime. Here I choose only to quarrel a bit with one of his recommendations, and then to mention five areas which we need to explore further.
Anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson wrote several years ago, "Men and women confronting change are never fully prepared for the demands of the moment." But "they are strengthened to meet uncertainty if they can claim a history of improvisation and a habit of reflection."
Yes — if demographers’ forecasts of significantly increasing enrollment at all levels of the education system over the next decade are accurate.
According to the Condition of Education 2001 report by the Education Department’s National Center of Education Statistics, full-time, four-year undergraduate enrollments will grow faster than part-time and two-year college enrollments during the next decade. The report also forecasts college enrollment of women will continue to outpace that of men during the next 10 years.
As suggested in this column last week, we have an obligation to reach out to those Christian brothers and sisters in our own fold who for whatever reason have become distant or estranged — either by our action, or theirs, or by both — before we go to the Table of our Lord.