I am returning today to a previous subject -- the decision by St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City to leave its campus on Truman Road and relocate to the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in suburban Leawood, Kan.
The decision has stirred up considerable debate and controversy among graduates and friends of the seminary, and you can find a fair amount of discussion about that at a Facebook page called "Save Saint Paul School of Theology."
Since I first wrote about this, Methodist bishops who serve on the seminary's board of directors have issued this letter apologizing for their inadequate communications on this subject but reaffirming their belief that the move to COR is the right decision.
Their willingness to express regret about how they handled the matter is not just a good sign for how this process will move forward but is, in fact, something of a model for how big decisions involving faith communities should be handled -- with honesty after something is done wrong. The "Save SPST" Facebook page is another good model because it allows open discussion among interested parties.
What such major decisions inevitably require is openness. Everyone involved in the community should feel as if he or she has at least been heard on the issue. Some people with deep connections to the school feel the board failed in that regard and many of them continue to regard this as a poor -- and poorly made -- decision.
It's also true, however, that in this case, SPST's move to COR may well represent a new (or at least evolving) model for theological education, especially among Mainline Protestant denominations -- a model that, to be sure, owes something substantial to the interdisciplinary way that St. Paul once approached theological education. Given that reality, there is bound to be robust discussion, if not controversy. So, as I say, the process for making these decisions needs to be as open as possible -- and the bishops already have acknowledged some failure in that regard.
Openness certainly needs to be the case now as SPST considers what to do with its current campus, which has been a valuable player in a part of the city that has experienced decline over the decades.
In any case, I encourage you to follow this story as it unfolds to see if the lead players do it better than they have so far and to see if this church-seminary collaboration may indeed become a model for how theological education will look in the future.
The jury is still out on all of this. In addition to the sources I've given you above, the seminary's own site on campus relocation can be found here.
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SPIRITUALITY AT TIFFANY'S
The Museum of Biblical Art in New York has a new display of stained glass work depicting biblical themes by Louis Tiffany, known mostly for his famous lamps. In my congregation's building at 55th and Brookside in Kansas City you'll find some Tiffany window work. Drop by some time and have a look in our sanctuary. Or scroll to the bottom of this page for a quick look.