Strategic Recap, Part 2: Creating Alternative Pathways to Graduate Theological Education

Throughout 2018-2023 we prioritized Collaborative RelationshipsContextualized Theological Education, and Community of Learners as part of our “strategic plan.” Last week we launched a new series exploring what we’ve learned during our most recent “strategic plan.” This week I’m sharing some reflections about what we’ve learned about creating alternative pathways to graduate theological education.

In October 2019, Winebrenner hosted an event funded by the In Trust Center for Theological Schools through their Resource Grant program. You can read more this gathering by clicking here. We called the gathering “Pathways to Graduate Theological Education” and spent the day exploring alternative pathways to engage graduate students including “bachelor equivalency,” creative use of “advanced standing,” and experiential educational opportunities. Multiple organizations, including the Association for Theological Schools (ATS) were represented either in person or via Zoom. This event helped clarify Winebrenner’s ongoing commitment to serve those who may fall outside of “traditional” definitions of students. This commitment has only grown stronger and has been codified in Winebrenner’s “Educational Journey” and “Life Exploration” processes. While creative responses to the growing “market” of prospective students without a completed bachelors degree, both of these approaches remain within the boundaries of existing accreditation requirements while seeking to best take advantage of available options.

This exploration of finding alternative and creative pathways for graduate students has opened many conversations with both current and potential collaborative partners, leading to new communities of learners such as the critical mass of students who are from the Grand Point Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Next week I’ll explore several additional initiatives and how we discovered some efforts succeed while others fail.

  • Brent C. Sleasman, President