On 1 December 2010 the Task Force on Cost-Efficient, Sustainable Seminary Education presented its report to synod. The two seminary presidents had been given the opportunity on two occasions to provide input to the task force during its work, and were given a preview of the proposals in early October 2010.
We give thanks for the dedicated work of the task force members, but respectfully disagree with the main points of their proposals. Each president, on behalf of his faculty, provided a written response to the Board of Directors at the end of December. We are now providing these responses (in slightly edited form) to the members of LCC as a whole. We believe it is important for our church members to understand the perspective of the seminary faculty, who are called to teach, mould, and examine men for the pastoral ministry, and who provide numerous other theological services to the synod.
The present response, prepared by the Acting President of Concordia, St. Catharines, is published on behalf of the seminary faculty. It raises serious concerns that the task force proposals cut at the very heart of quality seminary education. (1) We believe that the proposed 50% cut in faculty size (while leaving other aspects of the institutions largely intact) is entirely the wrong way to reduce costs. (2) Likewise, while there is a need for some distance education, we do not think that the pastoral qualities and the very humanity of our students is well served by the plan to share all courses between the seminaries online, such that students will receive 50% of their classes without a live instructor. (3) We regret that the report offers no proposals to increase financial support of the seminaries. (4) We believe that a merged administration will harm the seminaries by further distancing the leadership from the institutions they serve.
In addition to critique, our response offers a number of concrete proposals for improving the seminaries’ prospects. These include synod-wide stewardship plans, joint development and recruitment work, enhanced co-operation between the seminaries, financial regulation, and the development of a seminary residence in St. Catharines. Please give your fullest attention to our response, available here.
(The response of our colleagues in Edmonton is available here. The original report of the Task Force is available here.)