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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Sounding the alarm

All not well in theological ed.

On July 1, 2012, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary became part of the Lenoir-Rhyne University School of Theology. The coming together of these two Lutheran institutions seemed necessary given the fiscal challenges under which the seminary had labored. In addition, it made sense historically, given the high rate at which Lenoir-Rhyne graduates fed into the seminary. As an alumnus of both, I am an example of this trend.

The joining of the two institutions could be celebrated as a new paradigm for theological education in the ELCA. There is merit in celebrating the possibilities that come with new partnerships among Lutheran institutions of higher learning. However, before we praise this shift we must first reckon with its cost.

In the wake of the merger, three tenured faculty members of the seminary were let go: Mary Havens, the H. George Anderson Professor of Church History and Lutheran Confessions; Robert Hawkins, professor of worship and music, dean and organist of Christ Chapel; and David S. Yeago, Michael C. Peeler professor of systematic theology. This was a monumental cost.


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