This article by Duff McDonald struck my fancy yesterday regarding “MBA Programs that Get You Where You Want to Go.” Want to work on Wall Street? Start a new business selling organic meat? Become a marketing consultant? Instead of Harvard, Wharton, or Kellogg, maybe you should consider Ross, Fuqua, or Sloan. Or – in the wisdom of my excellent colleague EH, if you want to work in Southern California all your life, maybe you should go to Marshall at USC. If you want to spend all your years in Maine, an MBA from Maine Business School (they make it easy) makes sense.
I doubt that most Americans could name a seminary or divinity school. But for all you The More You Know fans, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is connected to 12 seminaries. Among my PCUSA colleagues, there are many graduates of other non-PCUSA related seminaries and divinity schools. If someone asked me where she should go to seminary, I’m not sure I would ask “What kind of ministry do you want to do?” I would probably ask “Where do you want to live?”
I went to seminary because of geography. I also heard from a colleague that he was advised to “go to seminary someplace you’d like to live because you’ll never get to choose where you live again.” He was a big believer in God calling us to places where we don’t want to go. Very John 21:18. Exhibit A: I never thought I’d ever be living in The Prairie State. (But now that I’m here, it’s pretty great.)
At the risk of offending my colleagues, I’m going to this whole “Which seminary should you attend?” question a whirl and I’d appreciate your feedback.
If you want do general parish ministry and eat excellent barbecue for 3 years, go to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Austin, TX.
If you want to do general parish ministry and make lifelong Southern connections, go to Columbia Theological Seminary – Decatur, GA
If you want the ease of on-line seminary, go to University of Dubuque Theological Seminary – Dubuque, IA
If you want to do general parish ministry and be near The Mother Ship, go to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Louisville, KY
If you want to study urban ministry, perhaps in a non-parish setting, go to McCormick Theological Seminary – Chicago, lL
If you want to learn how to start new churches, go to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary – Pittsburgh, PA
If you want special focus on youth ministry and/or be a Senior Pastor, go to Princeton Theological Seminary – Princeton, NJ
If you want general parish experience with added chops in spiritual disciplines, go to San Francisco Theological Seminary – San Anselmo and Pasadena, CA
If you want an historical black church experience (and you can wait because they are not currently offering classes) go to Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary – Atlanta, GA
If you want general parish education, especially with a focus on Christian Education, go to Union Presbyterian Seminary – Richmond, VA & Charlotte, NC
If you want certificate programs in leadership, and especially training in being a coach, go to Auburn Theological Seminary – NYC
If you want training to serve the church in Puerto Rico, Latin America, or with Spanish-speaking churches in the US, go to Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico – San Juan, PR
[Full disclosure: I went to seminary in Boston (where there is no PCUSA seminary) because of a relationship and I took classes at Boston University School of Theology (preaching), Harvard Divinity School (Greek and NT), Gordon Conwell (polity), and Andover-Newton (MDiv & their CPE connections because I planned to be a chaplain as I had never seen a woman in the pulpit.) I also have a DMin from Columbia Theological Seminary – a PCUSA affiliated institution – because of their Christian Spirituality program.]
The reality is that the seminary one attends may or may not lead to whatever call one discerns. “The Big Three” clergywomen recently called to large urban congregations – Shannon Johnson Kershner, Amy Butler, and Ginger Gaines-Cirelli – are graduates of Columbia Theological Seminary, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Yale Divinity School respectively. So there.
Clergy – I’d love your feedback on the advice you received about where to go to seminary? And how did you make your decision? And did it matter?
Non-clergy – I’d love to hear your assumptions about particular seminaries. Do you assume all Fuller graduates are conservative? That all Princeton Seminary graduates are big time?
Image source here.