Monday, June 9, 2008

Meadville Lombard Theological School's June Board of Trustees Meeting

Moving Forward: A Declaraton by the Board of Trustees

". . . In times like these it is critical tha we rais up religious exemplars who are able to lead with the power and compassion necesary to heal this world. Meadville Lombard Theological School, with its long historyof national and international engagement, is uniquely poised to resond to this challengse by providing a program of education that is aademically rigorous, spitually grounded and unapologetically progressive. In order to accomplish ths vision, we will initiate significant changes an challenges. . . ."

With the above words, Rev. Dr. Lee Barker presented the Intergrated Educational Design Proposal(IED) to the Board of Trustees on Friday, June 6. The three-year Master of Divinity Program with it proposed mentored ministy rotations has proven to be particularly controversial among some staff and most of the Meadville student body. At the heart of the controversy are the two vastly different perceptions and opinions about the proposed Integrated Educational Design. One, the administration contends that an effective approach to seminarian education is one that eliminates the fourth year in the Masters of Divinity Program, thus reducing it to three years which then eliminates the internship. Administration asserts that this is academically wise and fiscally expedient. The students believe this proposal denies them the benefit of one of their most critical learning experiences, the internship. While both perceptions have some merit based on their different priorities and therefore approaches, what is perhaps of greatest concern is the erosion of trust, comraderie and sense of community this issue has engendered between administration and the students. Whether these relationships can be healed remains to be seen based on whether administration and students are willing to find some common ground to stand on and whether each side is willing to hear the other.

It is never easy to witness family fueds when you know that being "right" in the end is meaningless if the relations are fractured beyond repair. May we all attempt to stay in relationship and maintain integrity while exploring our different truths.

Blessed Be! Rev. Dr. Qiyamah