The invitation to approach theological education as discipleship is accompanied by the challenge to align our daily activities and decisions with those of Jesus. Of all his challenging words and stories, one that many find provocative is the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard recorded in Matthew 20:1-16.
The opening line of the parable is key: “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Since Winebrenner’s mission statement is to equip leaders for service in God’s kingdom, it’s helpful to learn more about what that kingdom will be like. The emphasis of the story is found in the concluding verses:
13 “But he (the Landowner) answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ (NIV).
As shared last week, biblical stewardship is central to Winebrenner’s culture. This story illustrates another aspect of kingdom stewardship – extreme generosity.
At its most recent meeting, the Winebrenner Theological Seminary Board of Trustees voted to approve the cancellation of the financial debt of those students who had accounts previously submitted to “collections.” This decision emerged in the midst of a comprehensive discussion about various financial policies at Winebrenner.
Students who benefit from this action will receive a letter and notification announcing the action taken by the Board of Trustees. Winebrenner Theological Seminary recognizes Proverbs 22:7 (NIV) which states, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Winebrenner Theological Seminary is far from being rich; repeatedly operating at a deficit. We do believe, though, that we are to be good stewards of all that God provides and that freeing these students of the slavery of this educational debt is the direction in which He has led us.
Upon the cancellation of the debt, each of the affected students will have an account balance with Winebrenner which will be $0. The door will then be slightly ajar for their return to Winebrenner Theological Seminary provided each meets all of the entrance requirements.
Our collective belief is that this is one “faithful activity” that demonstrates a greater reliance upon God’s provision as well as his deep commitment to generosity.
- Brent C. Sleasman, President, & Tom Weaver, Director of Finance