Seeking God, Shaping Church, and Serving Humanity

 

 Dear Faithful Friends of Central,        

            Lent is the season of the Christian year most devoted to self-examination and reflection.  We begin by remembering that we are dust and to dust we shall return, a stark reminder that human life is fragile and radically dependent. We prayerfully attempt spiritual practices that evoke new discipline and awareness of our need for God.

            Central is in a time of reflection and renewal, also.  Our board, faculty, and staff have been thinking about our mission and what words can best focus that for the future.  Capturing that vision is this statement: “Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.” We will be exploring these three aspects of our mission in the issues of the Voice this year.

            Seeking God

God created humans with a homing device; we inexorably seek God.  As St. Augustine put it: “You have created us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  Yet, there is much in our culture that sidetracks this holy quest. Central prepares learners for seeking God through rigorous study as well as participation in a community immersed in worship, spiritual formation, and hospitality.  Faithful scholar-practitioners help point the way by teaching through their lives as well as their academic discipline

Shaping Church

Central ever strives to be a source of renewal for congregations. Churches face a more challenging cultural ethos than ever before.  People desire community and want to be part of movements that make an impact on the social landscape, and they find many institutionalized churches irrelevant. Many congregations are locked in fossilized patterns that do not engage the real spiritual hunger of our time. Central prepares leaders with biblical insight, winsome theology, spiritual depth, and human sensitivity to shape churches for effective Gospel witness.

Serving Humanity

            While many graduates will offer their ministries as pastoral leaders, others will find meaningful ways to serve the public landscape through non-profits, chaplaincy, and social entrepreneuriship.  Emerging bi-vocationalism will place graduates in both ecclesial and social sectors, serving humanity in both.  The church is not the exclusive province of spiritual gifts; any capacity that empowers human flourishing can be considered ministry.

As always, I give thanks for your care for Central and your interest in the ongoing work of the seminary.  We could not plan for a promising future without you.  I pray that this Lenten season will be renewing for you, indeed.

Faithfully,

Molly T. Marshall, Ph.D.
President and Professor of Theology and Spiritual Formation