It is that time of year again! New books, new classes, and new challenges all beckon new students. While we don't apply new varnish to the halls and make sure the school bell is working, much preparation for the official beginning of the new academic year 2012-2013 has transpired. Actually, Central conducts classes throughout the year, so the fall demarcation is a convention of an earlier time. Nonetheless, we mark this new beginning with joy and anticipation.
Faculty members gather each year for a retreat just prior to this launch for a time of prayer and reflection. These two days at Conception Abbey remind us of our vocation and the work that lies ahead of us. As we observe the fresh-faced young men entering class there, we think of the promise of ministry of our own students as they undergo formation for their calling. Our enrollment is on pace to be the highest in over 30 years, for which we give thanks!
Who are these teachers that shape the souls of seminarians at Central? They are gifted scholars and practitioners of ministry. As I count up the years of service in churches and theological education, it is a staggering number: 410+ years of experience--and that only includes the standing faculty, not the supplemental. These professors write books, publish articles, serve as pastoral leaders, provide denominational leadership, lead academic programs, and tend students with care and keen perception. It is common knowledge that the reputation for excellence of faculty members is a significant draw for students.
The academic credentials of these professors are stellar, also. Central employs graduates of Vanderbilt, Boston University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Harvard, Emory, Interdenominational Theological Center, St. Andrews, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to mention a representative sample.
The Latin root of the word "professor" means to "lay claim to or declare openly." When one believes deeply, one "professes" that truth. The word is also used when one takes a vow to join an order. While Central does not require vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience--maybe not in the usual way--those who teach here do so from a convictional grounding. Central affirms the historic confessions of the church, and professors are faithful ecclesial Christians.
Our alumni/ae bear the graceful imprint of these professors. Not only do they carry with them new ideas and approaches to interpreting "the faith that is within them," our graduates have observed their practice of life--their marriages, their justice commitments, their piety, and their collegiality. These practices are also part of the curricula, and learners absorb them, also.
Central's goal in formation is threefold: we want students to be, know, and do. We want them to become persons of integrity, humility, and compassion, walking humbly with God and others. We want them to know Scripture, theology, Christian heritage, and ethics. And we want them to be able to preach, offer pastoral care, teach with insight, and conduct their lives in ways worthy of their calling. That is our mission as we begin our 110th fall.
Molly T. Marshall
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