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  • August 18, 2011

    Making the Rounds:   From Gettsyburg to Richmond

    Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg

    Recently I visited Michael Cooper White, the president of the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg. Along the way I met helpful staff in admissions, the registrar’s office, and Dr. Leonard Hummel in practical theology. LTSG is like a beacon of the gospel in an embattled world, sitting squarely on Confederate ridge at the Gettysburg Battlefield, but always witnessing to the grace-filled freedom of the gospel for all people. LTSG is the oldest of the Lutheran Seminaries in the U.S. and a founding member of the Consortium. By its strong resources and leadership, it is helping reshape theological education. The seminary has a strong library, research and teaching faculty, and a new partnership with Luther Seminary in St. Paul around online education. In addition it has partnered with state, federal and local funds and agencies to redesign the historic Schmucker Hall into a three-story Battlefield Museum, which will highlight many of the cultural and religious dimensions of Gettysburg and the Civil War, which National Park museums fear to touch. Luther offers strong courses in Biblical languages, Scripture, theology, history and practical theology, with some distinctive offerings in inter-religious dialogue, religion and science, theology and the environment, and more. LTSG offers a number of block courses, including some Saturday intensives, so that Consortium students can spend a day or an evening coming to Gettysburg for study and for respite from the busy D.C. urban environment. They even have affordable overnight housing, if needed. The campus is only 90 minutes from northern Virginia and most of D.C.

    Virginia Union University, Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology

    I also had the privilege of visiting with Dean John Kinney and his staff recently at Virginia Union’s School of Theology. It strikes me as a household of freedom, with its student-oriented learning, flexible curriculum, and heritage of emancipation. VU is one of the oldest, historic Black universities in the country, founded by the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, and it has long pioneered in cultivating African-American ministers, scholars, and faculty. The Proctor School of Theology offers a traditional, weekday curriculum and a non-traditional curriculum—with numerous evening, weekend, and block courses for commuters. For example, a student can go to Richmond for a Friday evening or Saturday schedule and take courses in the Bible, Church Administration, Advanced Homiletics, History of Christianity, and more. The school believes in face-to-face theological learning, and emphasizes the use of students’ personal, vocational, and faith narratives as a resource for theological education, alongside Scripture and theological classics. As the leading professional school of the university, the Proctor School of Theology is a strong presence in the rest of the school, and it draws from the university library, research staff, and other departments. While historically African American and Baptist, VU students come from numerous denominations, cultural, and racial backgrounds—making for a rich and diverse learning environment. Richmond is less than a two hour car or train ride from D.C., and the VU campus is only three miles from the Main Street Amtrak station in Richmond.