Last weekend, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology was invited to participate in the National Summit on Reimagining Theological Education. The summit, which exists to highlight innovation and foster conversation about new, sustainable forms of theological education, is an initiative of the Convergence Movement and is funded through a grant from the Carpenter Foundation. The Seattle School was one of 24 programs featured during the Chicago-based conference.
As long-established seminaries and institutions are closing at an unprecedented pace, the need for new models, ones that can speak into the ever-growing complexity of our world in creative ways, is clear. “We’re not in the golden era of theological education anymore,” says Dr. Derek McNeil, Senior Vice President of Academics at The Seattle School. “Churches are challenged, seminaries are challenged, and while you’re thinking about how to do seminary, how to do a theology school, you can’t ignore that we live in a time of social fragmentation.”
In the midst of upheaval and nationwide questions about how to move forward, the continued growth of The Seattle School’s graduate programs is beginning to attract more attention. “Ours is one that’s growing while others are closing,” says Dr. McNeil. “In a time when theological education is changing, and needs to change, people are perceiving us as having learned some things and being innovative in what we do. The challenge for us is trying to translate our learning, which is not simply a progressive step but is really a shift.”
To help share about The Seattle School’s model and the innovative learning that occurs through the integration of theology and psychology, Dr. McNeil shared the video below and was joined by Dr. Dwight Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, who introduced the concept of text.soul.culture, and Dr. Angela Parker, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, who shared her perspective as a new member of The Seattle School’s faculty. Dr. Friesen also led a separate talk about connecting the seminary and the local community.
“It’s interesting when you’re the rebel in the house, then suddenly the rebellion becomes innovative,” says Dr. McNeil. “The old answers don’t work anymore—and more than that, the questions are changing, too. Everyone’s asking, ‘What’s next, what’s new?’ And we’re thought to be people who are doing things that just might work.”