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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Protestant "Seminaries Move Toward More Online Training"

From time to time I like to post articles about the challenges protestant denominations face in recruiting and forming ministers. Since there is a perception that somehow the vocations crisis is limited to the Catholic Church, I think it is important to see that many protestant denominations are having a far worse time recruiting and forming ministers.

From the Courier Journal
By Peter Smith

Seminaries, like other higher-education institutions, are increasingly offering classes online.

In the latest mark of that trend, the United Methodist Church's University Senate decided in January to allow students seeking ordination to get two-thirds of their master of divinity credits via online courses, up from the previous requirement of one-third. (The change only applies to course work at 14 seminaries with close ties to the Methodist movement, including Asbury in Kentucky, a pioneer in the movement.)
“We don’t want United Methodist clergy trained only online, but we have to do a better job of making classes more accessible. I think this plan strikes a wonderful balance," said Bishop William H. Willimon, a senate member and chair of the Methodists’ Commission on Theological Education.

One-hundred fifteen seminaries and divinity schools in North America offer distance education courses, according to the Association of Theological Schools. Fifty-four percent of schools surveyed by the association reported that more than half of their students commuters, taking courses from a distance or both.

But is that a good thing for training for a job that requires regular contact with real people? Pastors-in-training are spending less time together in brick-and-mortar classrooms, dorms and cafeterias.

Continue reading the article HERE.

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