During the fall 2019 trimester, Winebrenner Seminary entered into a partnership with the Kingwood Church of God, in southwestern Pennsylvania, to offer a course in Ministerial Person taught by Dr. John Nissley. The project was made possible through the generosity of the Allegheny Region Foundation and the Kingwood Church of God.
Several weeks ago, I was traveling to another event in Baltimore and was able to stop and visit with the students as they met for a Saturday face to face meeting. In addition to two face to face weekends, the students were also able to make use of Canvas (our current Learning Management Platform – LMS) for the online portion of their learning.
Courses like this assist in building a network of collaborative relationships that serve the local church and their denominational regions. Most importantly, this course prioritizes the needs of the student and allows us to fulfill our commitment to make education accessible and affordable, all while maintaining a high quality of education. This aligns with the purpose of the grant which, since our application, is to provide members of the Kingwood Church, directly and locally, with access to theological education offered through Winebrenner Theological Seminary.
Here are a few thoughts after visiting the course and talking with students:
- Quality education can take place outside of the context of a “traditional” seminary course. The class, which was part of our Institute in Christian Studies program, took place in the Kingwood Fellowship Center (previously the Kingwood Elementary School). This class took place in their context, near their homes, church, and families.
- Working on developing new networks of collaborative relationships will open doors to an entirely new set of students. It is highly likely that we never would have engaged and enrolled these students if we waited and expected them to relocate to Findlay, Ohio. It is exciting to see how a seminary education can become part of each student’s spiritual journey instead of expecting a seminary to be the destination for their spiritual experience.
This is one more way that we can demonstrate our commitment to creating alternative pathways toward seminary education that simplifies the enrollment process, reduces the cost of education, and eliminates potential barriers to furthering education.
– Dr. Brent Sleasman, President