A Tale of Three Seminaries

Twin Cities seminaries

The Twin Cities boasts three Protestant seminaries (forgive me if I don’t consider John Piper’s unaccredited school a seminary in full standing). They are Luther Seminary, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and Bethel Seminary. And I think that the rising and falling fortunes of these three can tell us something interesting about the landscape of the church in America today. [Disclosure: I teach at United, I am part of a Templeton grant at Luther, and I once made out with a girl in the trees behind Bethel. I have friends who teach at all three.]

Luther Seminary was initially founded in 1917 as the merger of three Norwegian Lutheran seminaries. Another merger with Augsburg Seminary (also Norwegian) happened in 1963, and yet another merger in 1976 with Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary (English) led to Luther Northwestern Seminary. In 1994, they simplified the name to Luther Seminary. Luther is the largest of the eight seminaries of the ELCA denomination — with incoming classes of well over 100 — but it has recently fallen on hard times. Due to falling enrollment and financial mismanagement, the president and CFO were let go and many faculty and staff were laid off.

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities was also formed by a merger. In 1957, the United Church of Christ denomination was formed out of the merger of a couple denoms, and in 1962, UTS was founded as the merger of Yankton School of Theology (German Congregational) and Mission House (German Reformed). In the 1970s and 80s, UTS was at the forefront of liberalism, particularly feminist theology, and was among the first seminaries to enroll openly gay students. But their star faded, and in the last few years, incoming classes were in the low 30s. Today it serves primarily UCC, UMC, and UUA students.

Bethel Seminary was initially founded in Chicago in 1871. In 1914, it was acquired by the Baptist General Conference denomination and moved to Minnesota. Always evangelical in its outlook, Bethel made news in the 1990s when professors John Piper and Greg Boyd squared off, resulting in Boyd’s resignation and Piper’s withdrawal from Bethel and the BGC. In its heyday, Bethel was welcoming over 200 new students every year, but recently they’ve laid off all of their church historians as well as several other faculty members.

Here’s the interesting part:

[Read more...]

Same As It Ever Was

Me, contemplating a return to the Internet. (photo by Courtney Perry)

Me, contemplating a return to the Internet. (photo by Courtney Perry)

So, I took 6 weeks off of the Internet, and I feel fine. Didn’t miss it all that much. In case you’re curious, here’s what I did:

1) Finished the second draft of my manuscript, Did God Kill Jesus? and sent it off to the publisher. Haven’t heard back yet, but I’m hoping they consider it an improvement. I do. Most days over the past six week, I wrote 6-8 hours per day. More on the book tomorrow.

2) Harvested bushels of produce from our garden.

3) Canned much of that produce. Final count: 12 jars beans, 6 jars beets, 12 jars pickles, 12 jars relish, 4 jars onions, 2 jars tomatoes, 6 loaves zucchini bread. The tomatoes are still coming. And 4 heads of cabbage are (hopefully) becoming sauerkraut in the basement.

[Read more...]

50 Years of a Great Thing

photo by Courtney Perry

This weekend, my family will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the little cabin in the north woods that my grandfather built. I wrote about it in the StarTribune:

[Read more...]

What Is Home?

That’s the question that my friend, Lily Percy, asked me in the On Being studio this weekend. I was hanging out at On Being as part of the amazing Northern Spark Festival that takes place annually in the Twin Cities. It’s an overnight affair with hundreds of artists and over 50,000 participants. I was there to see the Ragamala Dance Company perform their “Sacred Earth” dance, which I found totally mezmerizing.

The On Being recording studio was also open, and Lily was asking people a question about “Home.” They called it an “Audio Selfie.” Here’s my answer. Here’s Jay Bakker’s — his is a lot different than mine. You can find a lot more on that page.

Thanks, Lily!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X