From Listening to Renewal

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The pace of change is swift at Calvin Theological Seminary right now, just as it is at many congregations.

Pastor Rob Knol of St. John, Ind., attended a recent consultation with pastors regarding the seminary’s new curriculum. He was pleased with the proposed changes, saying, “You really are listening to the church!”

In the past few years, CTS has been doing a lot of listening: to students, to people thinking about ministry, to pastors and church leaders, to graduates of our seminary and other seminaries.

That listening—along with a strong desire to serve the church by providing well-formed leaders—led to the development of the new curriculum featured on these pages.

The process began more than three years ago when the faculty approved a new field education program—the Ministry Formation program—in which students meet regularly with mentors, are involved in local congregations, go on at least two internships (one crosscultural and one congregation-based), and integrate all of these experiences with their coursework in Formation for Ministry (FFM) groups that meet throughout their seminary program.

The faculty came to realize that the integration of FFM with various courses would require more than the two interdisciplinary “bookend” courses that have framed the curriculum since 2005. A committee led by Professors Lyle Bierma and David Rylaarsdam came up with the new curriculum plan described in these pages, which will be implemented in September 2009.

President Neal Plantinga said, “The cooperative spirit throughout the process and the overwhelming support of the faculty in the final vote made it unmistakably clear that the Holy Spirit has been at work in our midst.”  

The faculty also approved a new way of organizing themselves and the entire seminary for effective implementation of this curriculum plan. Furthermore, the faculty is planning for its own development to improve teaching and learning methods and is considering how to make the seminary’s daily and weekly schedule more conducive to both learning and community time for students, staff, and faculty. 

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