While I had just come back to faith and was starting to grow in my home church, First Baptist Church Murfreesboro, I had never envisioned going to seminary. In need of spiritual growth and understanding, everything pointed me in that direction; however, our family is a single income family with four children. My job was crucial and I could not see how I could possibly attend seminary.
Just when I thought that there was no hope, I was surprised by a flyer about a seminary that would be housed in my church. I found out that classes would be done in intensives on Friday night and Saturday and that the tuition was subsidized through the generosity of grants. I finally got it all together and started my seminary journey at Central Baptist Theological Seminary - Tennessee.
This format allowed me to complete my degree without missing any work or taking too much time away from my family. At the same time, I was able to develop an understanding of how to apply the skills from seminary to my sense of calling as a marketplace minister and allowed me to find ways to execute this ministry. After completion of seminary, my home church ordained me and blessed me in this calling.
I am extremely grateful for Central for the work it has done in my life by providing a thought provoking broad theological education.
Luce Foundation Renews Grant for Three More Years
Central Seminary has received notification that The Henry Luce Foundation, which has a theology program initiative focused on leadership in a religiously diverse society, is renewing their three-year grant for $450,000. An increase of $150,000 from the Foundation’s initial grant, these funds will support the seminary’s efforts in continuing development of a joint doctor of ministry degree program with the Myanmar Institute of Theology, various training programs for leaders from Myanmar now living in the US, and the pilgrimage trips for a select group of master of divinity students.
The initial grant from the Foundation was crucial in helping Central redevelop the historic linkage with the Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT) and the people of Myanmar as a whole. Recent developments in Myanmar have highlighted the significant timing of this joint venture. The seminary’s partnership with MIT, facilitated by the Luce funds, has created a strong identity with and awareness of the people of this wonderful country. The partnership has helped to encourage Central students to explore how one lives out one’s Christian faith in a pluralistic context.
With this grant renewal, cross-cultural exchanges will be expanded to include doctor of ministry students from the U.S. and Myanmar, as well as allow for the development of the FOUNDATIONS: Judson Communities ministry certificate program for leaders of refugees from Myanmar being re-settled in the U.S.
The collaborative work between Central and Myanmar Institute of Theology is transformative for both schools. Faculty and students are learning about contextual realities of ministry in a religious plural world, the impact of the shifting political landscape on issues of faith (both US and Myanmar), and the reality of economic disparities and educational privilege in global partnerships in a post-colonial world. It is inter-cultural learning at its best.