Editorial -- By: Richard L. Mayhue
TMSJ 18:1 (Spring 2007) p. 1
Many do not really know the full heritage of our seminary, whose roots were planted a full decade before they became visible. I vividly remember reading this Christianity Today article (by David Singer [February 10, 1978]: 16-17) as a rookie professor at Grace Theological Seminary teaching New Testament and Greek. It captured my imagination and expressed my passion then as it has continued to do, even to this very hour. I pray that the following reprint of “Seminary Goes to Church” will resonate with you as it has with me.
Seminary Goes to Church
More than 6,000 people attend Grace Community Church in Panorama [i.e., Sun Valley], California, and 90 to 100 people in this relatively young congregation are seminary students. Although the majority of these students are enrolled at nearby Talbot seminary, they get most of their seminary training without going to the campus.
Sam Ericsson, the church’s liaison pastor with Talbot, explained that because an increasing number of Grace students were going to Talbot, the two institutions last September established an extension campus at the church. “The Talbot campus was forty miles away,” said Ericsson, “and we thought it made more sense to send five or six professors in this direction than to send eighty or ninety students in the other direction.” This program combines classical seminary education—languages, theology, church history, hermeneutics—with the practical training required for the pastorate.
“We want to integrate seminary students into the life of the church,” Ericsson adds. “It’s one thing to get head knowledge at seminary, but we feel that it is critical to get practical pastoral experience.” The Grace program, taught mostly by members of its own staff of twenty pastors, tries to involve students in as many facets of church life as possible. Instead of taking young people out of the church for three or four years of seminary, Grace has moved the seminary campus in-house to give its young people on-the-job training.
The pastors teach some of the same courses on Talbot’s campus. This way the seminary’s resident students also benefit from the experience of these ministers. The extension courses concentrate on the how-to questions. “The Fathers’ Coaching Clinic,” for example, explains how to help a father understand his responsibility as the spiritual leader in the home. Other such practical courses as evangelism or counseling are taught by pastors on staff rather than by professors, who would tend to be more theoretical. Classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Extension students are encouraged to go to Talbot for other courses on off days.
One of the staff pastors...
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