The Future of Nazarene Theological Education

2013-03-21_12-50-54_854Just back from Seattle and the Wesleyan Theological Society Meeting. (And the most important event comes at the end of this post).

2013-03-21_19-57-01_222Great fellowship and stimulating presentations, including Walter Brueggemman, Bruce Marshall, Mike Lodahl, Daniella Augustine, and Thomas Dozeman. Hats off to Jason Vickers for a strong theme and great program. Kudos to SPU (President Dan Martin and Dean Doug Strawn) for impeccable hospitality.

2013-03-23_16-01-34_786Yes, there was time to enjoy the beauty of Seattle as well with good friends like Steve McCormick, Tammy Condon, Rusty Baker and Andy Johnson.

I had the opportunity to moderate a one session in Practical Theology, I own my friend Mark Maddix a note of appreciation for the opportunity. Mark is a gifted leader and remarked that there were 32 proposals in the field this time. That is quite a testimony to the strength of the field and the promise of the future.

S2013-03-22_21-15-04_87peaking of promises of the future, I was privileged to host to a gathering of graduate students and deans of our schools during WTS.

2013-03-22_21-14-54_390This gathering emerged out of the desire of the deans from all the USA universities and colleges to connect with people current engaged in doctoral studies or recently graduated and just starting the journey toward their vocation as pastors/educators.
2013-03-22_21-14-43_794The desire was to listen to the needs of graduate students, encourage them, and learn how best to support each of these burgeoning scholars for the sake of the tradition. Ron Benefiel was one of the originators of the idea but could not be there (Ron, we missed you and praying for your family). IBOE commissioner Dan Copp had also worked to facilitate the meeting though he had to be out of the country. So it was left to me and Tammy Condon, who works with Dan, to coordinate and facilitate this meeting.

2013-03-22_21-14-16_8Tammy is IBOE’s secret weapon, I have been amazed at her ability to take and idea and run with it. It appears we will see a whole new initiative emerging for the future.

However, it was the doctoral students and recently minted 2013-03-22_21-14-28_287doctors that really made the meeting special. It became evident quite early that the room was full of vibrant young scholars, some already teaching and others who are serving as pastors. I know that it is difficult these days to break into teaching in higher education. The current economic climate makes placement difficult at times, But the deans who were able to be at this year’s WTS (Mark Maddix, Jeanne Serrao, and Bill Malas) shared deeply how they wanted to support each of these 2013-03-22_21-13-54_427prospective teachers/scholars in their journeys. The gesture was deeply appreciated and hopefully will set an agenda for ongoing networking and support in the future.

2013-03-22_21-14-38_968We are blessed as a tradition with gifted scholars, not all of them at WTS this time, but collectively an exceptional collection of passionate young “pastor/teachers” for the future to be certain.

“Back in the day” when I was in doctoral studies (yes, we had automobiles in those days) I remember talking with leadership about nurturing young scholars. A fellow student in those days, Carlos Serrao, proposed we start a newsletter just to circulate to doctoral students. It was a great idea, particularly since I already knew a couple, even at that time, who were outstanding scholars… but the isolation and disconnect from a community of caring educators ultimately hampered their journey. It seemed crucial then but the simple task of locating students, printing newsletters, and mailing them seemed daunting. Today social networking bridges a number of barriers. There is hope for the future and I am sure we will all benefit from it.

About Dean G. Blevins

Dr. Dean G. Blevins currently serves as Professor of Practical Theology and Christian Discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary. An ordained elder, Dean has ministered in diverse settings and currently also serves at the USA Regional Education Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene. A prolific author, Dr. Blevins recently co-wrote the textbook Discovering Discipleship and edits Didache: Faithful Teaching, a journal for Wesleyan Education.
This entry was posted in Higher Education, Practical Theology, Scholarship, Theological Education. Bookmark the permalink.

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