Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Theological Schools/UUA Relationship: Money

Money concerns ranged from a concern that new ministers take on huge debt which impacts their careers, choices, and ability to serve congregations, to generosity building in our movement in general and the equitable distribution of the resources we do have. The point was made that in spite of that huge debt load, no theological student pays more than 40% of the real costs of theological education. Theological schools give hugely to denominations!

There was concern that "theological education" is larger than M.Div, but includes lay education and ministerial continuing education.

The point was made that two of the greatest weaknesses in faith communities are poor theology of stewardship and poor theology of institutions. (in that case, no wonder our theological school are suffering!)

Congregations are generally disconnected from theological schools; often don't know what schools their ministers attended and usually making no contribution to schools.

There was considerable discussion about the fact (apparently seen across denominations) of persons entering theological school without deep connections to congregational life. (just as many new members of churches don't have deep connections to a denomination) How should that fact be handled and remediated?

There was concern expressed that as a whole UU community we do not have a shared vision for theological education and that it's not clear who would appropriately articulate such a vision. Such a compelling vision would assist in fund-raising.

This second conversation recommended that this vision be created.

Also that other paths for support of theological education be developed and supported.

And that the UU theological schools and the theological schools educating the largest groups of UU students put time into their relationships.

Scattered through the notes like little chimes of warning were comments about the failed attempt to merge the two schools about 18 months ago. That was the subject of the next conversation and will be the subject of tomorrow's notes on this blog.


Robin Edgar said...

Looks like you should have had a bit more coffee before posting this one Rev. Robinson. There are several typos. Feel free to delete this heads up.

Robin Edgar said...

BTW did you know that the Firefox browser has a built-in real-time spell checker? Very handy.

Christine Robinson said...

Thanks for the heads up Robin.

Judy said...

Thanks for sharing this info surrounding the meetings in Seattle. I'm a Meadville seminiarian and I'm finding it ever more helpful as I progress to see the larger picture surrounding theological ed. I may like the inlet in which I swim...yet knowing something about the rest of the pond helps me keep perspective...and understand this faith tradition I aim to serve.

With winter blessings,


The Eclectic Cleric said...

I think this situation is a huge challenge for our denomination, and while I have quite a few thoughts about about how to proceed forward, I haven't really had an opportunity to organize them into a single, coherent vision. In regard to the money though, I think we are much better off supporting the schools (and trying to keep tuitions low) rather than offering scholarship or other student-based financial aid, regardless of whether the student is attending a UU school or a non-UU school. But I can see exceptions to this policy as well. Rather, I would want to offer financial support AFTER the student had successfully completed their program and ben ordained, in the form of debt repayment grants for newly-minted clergy willing to serve what used to be called "feeble parishes" -- churches that just can't make it on their own without some sort of subsidy, or who have moved into "maintain the edifice" mode. And I would like to see the trend toward more "distance learning" and greater cooperation between the schools continued. Guess that's all for now. Maybe more as other thought occur to me

Robin Edgar said...

You're welcome Christine.

Allah prochaine,