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  • July 25, 2011

    Making the Rounds:  Leland and VTS
    I am busy meeting institutional heads and representatives of each of the WTC schools.  This week, I want to share some highlights of these visits, and begin to capture a sense of the unique mission and gifts of each of these schools.  I offer them to students and faculty of the WTC, as an invitation for you to learn from these centers of learning, ministry, and scholarship.

    John Leland Center: Last week, I had an energetic meeting with President Mark Olson. Leland strikes me as a gourmet food-court for seminarians, pastors, church-workers and lay people to pursue quality theological education.  It is one of the newest and most creative of the consortium schools by offering non-traditional course schedules, Masters and diploma programs–specializing in evening courses (with 2 hour blocks, so one can get in 2 classes per evening), and satellite programs in Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads, Roanoke, and elsewhere. Leland serves a variety of Baptist and other evangelical students, and its new Master in Christian Leadership is especially focused on those preparing for ministries beyond the senior pastor. Leland has a solid core library, a wonderfully helpful staff, and a newly remodeled center (by Sept 1) in Clarendon, right across from the Clarendon Orange line. The faculty blends scholarship and ministerial experience in their teaching, and they are very international. The educators here are adaptive and entrepreneurial in response to the changing leadership needs of congregations, transformations of higher education, and our fast-paced society.

    Virginia Theological Seminary:  I also met last week with Tim Sedgwick, academic Dean at VTS, which is an interesting counterpoint to Leland. It strikes me as a residential cathedral of theological learning.   VTS is the oldest of the consortium schools (1823) and it remains focused on theological formation and education, largely for Episcopalians and students from the global Anglican Communion. Its library is large and carefully developed to cover a range of Christian (and some interfaith) traditions. VTS offers a number of block courses in 3 hour periods, and some non-traditional course schedules in evenings, summers, and its January term.  VTS continues a long tradition of case study teaching in the DMin.   The faculty is dedicated to strong scholarship, classroom teaching, and wider church service–including a number of ecumenical and bilateral dialogues. VTS has also been a leader in bringing Muslim-Christian studies to theological education, through grant work, guest professors, and opportunities for Dr. Richard Jones, now at the WTC, to continue teaching in that area.   It also has unique opportunities for lay education, through regular lectures and the  Evening School.VTS is only a 10 minute DASH ride from the King Street Yellow Line, just beyond National Airport.