Grants Support New Programs in Biblical and Theological Education
Murdock Generosity Totals $1 Million
Graduate students (from right) John Harrell, Kenny Solberg, and Patrick Tomaschke live at the School of Theology Graduate House.
The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has awarded a $400,000 grant to the Seattle Pacific University School of Theology (SOT) to support its new programs in graduate theological education. This is the second grant from Murdock to support SPU’s programs in biblical and theological education in two years — for a total of $1 million.
As of Autumn 2009, SOT offers two graduate degree programs: a master of divinity and a master of arts in theology. Students in the master of arts program can choose from four tracks, including Christian studies, Christian Scriptures, business and applied theology, and student ministry and culture.
The first group of 25 graduate theology students gathered at Camp Casey in August 2009 for a weeklong intensive course: “Christian Formation in Discipleship: Acts of Piety.” The students come from a variety of denominational backgrounds, and nearly one-third of them are students of color.
The program’s Wesleyan-informed vision encourages intentional community marked by study, worship, and service — or “academy, abbey, and apostolate” — in which the intellectual and practical study of theology can flourish. To this end, the Murdock grant funded the renovation of a University-owned house to become the School of Theology Graduate House, where some graduate students live and where SOT meeting space is located. The grant also provided for the hiring of administrative staff and the development of new programming related specifically to Asian-American ministry.
Last year, Murdock awarded $600,000 for the creation of the Center for Biblical and Theological Education (CBTE), which formally opened its doors in Autumn 2009, with offices in the same building that houses theology graduate programs. The Center’s purpose is to foster biblical and theological growth through innovative extra-curricular methods such as a web-based program of guided Bible readings that will launch next fall.
SPU President Philip Eaton says he is “thrilled by this strong affirmation from the Murdock Trust. These programs have been a dream for us, taking biblical and theological education to the next level. We are so grateful that Murdock has decided to partner with us.”
On May 6–7, 2010, CBTE will present its first public event aimed at strengthening biblical literacy in today’s culture: “Passionate Faith: A Bible, Youth, and Culture Conference.” The conference features keynote speaker Kenda Creasy Dean, founding director of the Princeton Theological Seminary Institute for Youth Ministry and author of the forthcoming Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church (Oxford University Press, 2010).
Designed for youth workers and other church leaders, the conference will explore biblical and theological education, identity formation, and reconciliation in the spiritual lives of teenagers as they represent the general church population. In addition to Dean’s presentations, conference attendees can attend breakout sessions with SOT faculty members, local church leaders, and parachurch organization leaders. Romanita Hairston, vice president of U.S. Programs at World Vision, will give a
plenary address, “Thy Kingdom Come:
Re-imagining the Role of Youth.”
The full conference costs $16 to attend, or church leaders may attend a lunchtime Church Leaders Forum for $12. At the forum, Dean will give a lecture, “Going Viral for Jesus: Reclaiming a Missional Imagination for the Church.”
For more information about SPU graduate programs in theology, call 206-281-2342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Passionate Faith conference or to register, call 206-378-5415, email email@example.com, or visit spu.edu/passionatefaith2010.
—Photo by Luke Rutan
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