Greetings from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City!
When I was elected to serve the Seminary, my 7-year old granddaughter understood that I had been elected as president of a cemetery. She thought that was pretty cool and seemed disappointed to learn that it was a seminary, not a cemetery over which I would preside.
Jokes aside, the truth is that some folks believe education is deadly. Some of our pastors were advised against attending “cemetery” so that their vibrant faith and evangelistic passion would not become diminished with all that “head learning.” It is a prejudice that we still hear today.
Our mission at NTS is to form those whom God is calling to be people of vital faith and theological depth. As Charles Wesley penned, “. . . knowledge and vital piety; learning and holiness combined.” I am commending a way of ministry that is thoughtful and precise while also remaining passionate and connected to the everyday lives and language of the people and communities we are called to serve in Jesus’ name.
In 1806, in the London Circuit of Methodism, the ministers of the connection recognized that evangelistic passion alone was insufficient for gospel ministry. They recognized their need for the intentional work of education and spiritual formation combined. In response, they developed a plan to deepen both their learning and their spiritual maturity.
Just before he died, Thomas J. Rutherford responded to their plan with these reflections:
It behooves us (for I include myself in the number) to ask why — since we first engaged in the solemn work of preaching the gospel — we have done so little towards improving ourselves, and gaining that kind and degree of knowledge so necessary to qualify us for the work of our high and holy calling. (Letter dated March 14, 1806)
Our cultural location (both time and space) is calling for ministers of the gospel who have depth of knowledge and evangelistic passion. The Church of the Nazarene from its beginning recognized the importance of an educated clergy. Our commitment to higher education is obvious in the development of more than fifty Nazarene schools across the globe. Seventy-five years ago, the Church also recognized its need for a graduate school of theology and Nazarene Theological Seminary was born.
The complexity of life in the 21st Century demands that pastors, missionaries, chaplains, teachers, and other ministers are able to conduct a truly gospel ministry that sits on a firm foundation of biblical faith, theological precision, and pastoral wisdom. This is the work of NTS and we can only accomplish this work with your support. We need your prayers, your dollars, and your advocacy. Thank you for joining us in this essential task for the life of the Church.
The peace of our Lord,
Jeren Rowell, President and Professor of Pastoral Ministry
Nazarene Theological Seminary