When it comes to educating pastors for service in the ELCA, the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" doesn't apply.
Kathryn Kleinhans, a professor of religion at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, said the church and its educators must regularly re-evaluate models and standards, in part to identify potential leaders.
"Can we provide the same quality of education but deliver it in a different way?" she said. The answer has changed as the church has evolved.
"When Lutherans first got [to the U.S.] ... Europe sent us pastors, and we used the apprenticeship model to train new pastors," she said. "At that time, pastors got together and decided when that person was ready. The notion of graduate degrees is a later evolution."
At Wartburg, religion and philosophy professors had long discussed a "3+4" degree program to accelerate a student's entry to seminary. It involves three years of focused undergraduate study and four years of seminary. The result would be a bachelor's degree, a master of divinity degree and an ordained pastor trained by two ELCA institutions, Kleinhans said.
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