October 31, 2012

Practicing Fidelity

            Could this week get any busier at Central?!  We have representatives from the Department of Education here to review the school’s compliance in areas of student loans, security on campus, recruitment, records, and financial services--to mention some of the prominent areas.

            At the same time we are hosting the Association of Theological Schools for a comprehensive accreditation visit.  (We pray that don’t have to come back for ten years!) Every aspect of the seminary is under review.  The visiting team assesses Central according to the following standards:

1.     Purpose, Planning, and Evaluation
2.     Institutional Integrity
3.     Theological Curriculum: Learning, Teaching, and Research
4.     Library and Information Resources
5.     Faculty
6.     Student Recruitment, Admission, Services, and Placement
7.     Authority and Governance
8.     Institutional Resources

In addition, the team reviews the educational and degree standards of the whole school, including the sites where Central is offering excellent ministry preparation.

            I consider this an exercise in faithful stewardship.  Students, faculty, board members, alums, and field supervisors all give accounting of Central’s fidelity to its mission and its effectiveness for churches and communities.

            The Hebrew Bible lectionary reading for Sunday recounts the departure of Naomi and Ruth from Moab as they head toward a more hospitable land to sustain their lives.  Familiar to us all is Ruth’s wonderful declaration of fidelity to her mother-in-law:

Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

Ruth is willing to risk for the sake of keeping good-faith (hesed) with the
bonds she has forged with Naomi.  Without knowledge of the horizon she is embracing, she travels toward her providential intersection with the purpose of God.

            Central is on such a journey of faith, also.  We believe that God has called us to new horizons in theological education, which require new competencies for ministry.  As the ecclesial landscape growing ever more challenging, Central is finding ways to equip learners to keep faith with congregations struggling to find missional relevancy.

            Practicing fidelity requires that we not be “risk averse.”  Anything God calls us to is larger than we can accomplish in our own strength.  We lean into the wonderful provision of God as we continue to form leaders for churches and communities who make God’s care known in a groaning world.  We want “our God” to be welcomed through our faithful witness.  Like Ruth, we trust God’s purpose will continue to unfold in the life of Central.

            Molly T. Marshall

To learn more about Central as a formative, creative, and progressive  school of ministry, continue visiting our website.

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