Embracing Virtual Learning

Embracing and Enhancing Distance and Virtual Learning as the Future of Theological Education at Central and Beyond



  • The preference of Central students is to study remotely. It allows them to more effectively balance their educational commitment, job requirements, and family needs.
  • Our students reside in 33 states in the U.S. and in 10 countries around the world. Less than 8% of our students live in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and most who live within driving distance of the Shawnee campus have expressed a desire to attend remotely.
  • Like Central, most other U.S. seminaries have moved to increase their online offerings or have shifted fully to virtual learning platforms, which has allowed students across the country and around the world to study at their preferred seminary. Competition for seminary students is now extremely high. Nearly every prospective student considering Central prefers programs that are virtual and flexible.
  • Few programs at Central now require in-person learning. Only international students living in the U.S. on a student visa, a few counseling program students, and some doctoral students are required to be occasionally on campus.


  • In 2023, Central is embracing our identity as a majority virtual seminary and is setting the standard for what a technologically enhanced seminary can and should be. With this renewed commitment of taking theological education to our students, wherever they may be, the Board of Directors has made the decision to right-size our physical space and relocate our campus headquarters to a more suitable location in the Kansas City area. This strategic move will propel Central forward by directing more resources to students, programming, and our mission. The move will reduce the financial overhead of unused physical space, decrease our financial liability, make new technologies easier to adopt, and lessen our ecological footprint. The new location will position Central for a successful future with a more efficient, versatile space designed for the changing landscape of theological education.

Initiative #2 – Addressing Needs of Graduates  Initiative #3 – Resourcing Students  The Future is Central Home  센트럴이 미래이다


What will Central’s new physical campus headquarters be like?

Instead of owning and maintaining a campus of over 45,000 sq. ft. of interior space and 9 acres of land, Central’s Board of Directors has directed the administration to find a suitable space, estimated at approximately 8,000-9,000 sq. ft.

The new seminary campus will be located in the Kansas City metropolitan area, continuing the tradition of Central’s being headquartered in the state of Kansas since 1901.

Our new campus space will include multiple classrooms outfitted with cutting-edge technology, office space for staff and faculty, several meeting rooms, a gathering area, and a small print library. While the print collection will be reduced, most books and journals along with thousands of other resources will be available on the Digital Theological Library, which current students now use almost exclusively. Students, no matter where they live or study, have immediate access to more than 1.5 million books, 104 million articles, 61,000 journals, and 174 databases.

Does this move indicate that Central is in trouble?

No. Central is stronger than ever. This proactive decision made by the Board of Directors is intended to right-size our physical footprint. Our current space in Shawnee is much larger than what we now need. Given that more than 90% of our students attend class remotely, our current physical classrooms often sit empty, and this underuse of the Shawnee building will increase over time. Relocating to a more appropriately sized space is both financially and ecologically responsible.

Will Central be fully virtual?

No. Some in-person classes are being held and will continue to be held on the Shawnee campus and the new campus as well as at the other Central sites. Central is simply right-sizing its physical administrative location. We will have a building that is more efficient and versatile, allowing for increased staff, faculty, and student collaboration. In addition, our local international students, counseling students, and Doctor of Ministry cohorts will continue to gather for periodic in-person classes and intensives.

What options did you consider before deciding to sell the current campus building?

Central exercised due diligence for more than a year, exploring various possibilities. Options explored included identifying partners, including other non-profits, educational institutions, and churches, for space sharing of the Shawnee building. After consulting with commercial real estate professionals, we concluded that finding a viable tenant with which to share space would be exceedingly difficult, and finding a tenant who could lease at the market rate without serious retrofitting of the building would be next to impossible. Leasing our space would also require Central to continue carrying the financial responsibility and liability as landlord and would have necessitated the added costs of hiring property management personnel. Seeking a partner with whom to share space, we concluded, would detract financial resources from students, faculty, and programming. Relocating allows Central to remain laser focused on the mission.

Will this impact accreditation?

No. We will relocate campus headquarters in accordance with the regulations of both of our accrediting bodies (the Higher Learning Commission and the Association of Theological Schools) as well as all federal and state governmental agencies.

What about the donors that provided funding for your current campus?

The legacy of their gifts will live on. Our current space was built with the generous gifts of so many supporters, partners, and alumni of Central. While we will not be in the space their gifts originally helped construct, the proceeds from the sale of the space will be used in strengthening operations and growing our endowment.