Despite a strong evaluation of Luther Seminary's master of sacred music program, the school in St. Paul, Minn., has put it on hold for the 2013-14 academic year. The announcement came as the seminary strengthened its budget after a $4 million funding shortfall in 2012.
Seminary leaders "need some time to right [our] fiscal condition," said Rollie Martinson, seminary dean. "It's a quality program that reaches a small number of candidates. Usually two to six students a year enter the program and last year it was two. The church's need for theologically informed, well-led music ministries is great. We need to imagine the program being available in different ways, to larger audiences within the life of the church."
Program director Paul Westermeyer, who had already announced his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 academic year, called it "a mixed bag" decision.
"I'm very sad because assuming the seminary continues this unwise decision, the church and the world will not be served," Westermeyer said. "On the other hand, this isn't a reflection on our staff or [our partners among] the St. Olaf [College, Northfield, Minn.] faculty. We did what we were asked to do, and we did it well. The [sacred music program] at Luther is unique."
Martinson called Westermeyer's work "superb" and said Luther is "committed to supporting the three people currently in the program as they finish their degrees."
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