Fit for ministry?

A new profile of seminarians

The changing profile of seminary students has been much remarked upon. Whereas 50 years ago almost all seminarians in North America were white men who had recently graduated from college, today women are a major presence in seminary classrooms, as are (to varying degrees) ethnic and minority groups. Today’s students are also substantially older by the time they get to seminary.

Has this change been good or bad for theologial education and for the churches’ ministry? On this subject, there is much debate. Some observers believe that there has been a steep decline in the abilities and skills students bring to seminary, a decline that bodes ill for the work of ministry. Others think that the new diversity of theological students brings resources, including maturity and diverse social perspectives, that will strengthen ministry overall.


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