Faculty at Lancaster Seminary often talk about how much we’ve grown by teaching here. It’s not simply that our scholarship has deepened or our classroom teaching skills have improved. Instead, it’s something we call “formation.”
Our seminary is dedicated to forming our students academically, professionally, personally and spiritually—and the process rubs off on us teachers, too. Just the other day, I had to correct a friend who perceives a split between seminaries and communities of faith. “That will always be an issue for seminaries,” I acknowledged, “but we do exceptionally well with it at Lancaster.” Our campus buzzes with students who know they’ll be taken seriously, pastors and laypeople for whom the seminary offers a vital resource, and community leaders who collaborate with us on projects from homeless shelters to community development. I’ve never been much of a mystic, but eleven years ago I felt called to Lancaster Theological Seminary. I still do. Our seminary provides a unique presence in the Mid-Atlantic region: a seminary that is vitally engaged with communities of faith, a school that tends closely to the formation of our students one by one, and a community that testifies that God is on the loose to bring blessing to all people.
From the moment you step onto campus you know there is something special about this place. As you enter Santee Chapel, you see the kaleidoscope of colors created by the awesome windows, and you can almost hear the echoes of voices raised in sermon, song, and prayer seeping from the woodwork creating a sense of holiness for all who seek solace there. For me, though, I chose Lancaster Seminary because of the people and the quality of the education I would receive. The faculty and staff are truly dedicated to each student receiving the best educational and formative experience: through lively discussion, creative teaching styles, and an atmosphere of questioning, challenging, and striving to grow. The diversity of backgrounds and cultures of my fellow students adds to the richness of discussions. The academic is combined with the practical through field education opportunities, shared leadership of weekly worship services, encouragement to become involved in the local community, and the opportunity to experience Christian faith practices in other countries—to stretch beyond ourselves and the experiences we entered with. And to top it all off, the encouragement and support doesn’t stop there. Our continuing education program attracts fabulous speakers from all walks of life for lectures and workshops that enrich our lifelong learning. LTS even offers education and support programs for new pastors via collegial groups, and for our youth as they seek to learn who they are and discern their future paths in life as children of God. For me, Lancaster Theological Seminary is a place where you can return year after year, no matter where you are in your educational and faith journey, and find sustenance and rejuvenation for your soul..
In gratitude and with enthusiasm I give to LTS because:
. . . it is my educational mother, my institutional parent. LTS nurtured me and prepared me for my life-long profession. Every day I look at the photograph of the LTS Class of 1947 hanging in my study, and I give thanks for the web of faculty, staff, trustees, churches, and generous lay persons who made possible the school that provided for my preparation for ministry.
. . . it is an institution of the United Church of Christ. My salary was paid by UCC people and institutions. From the UCC I receive a pension and health benefits. I give to LTS because it is a valuable and indispensable institution of the UCC.
. . . it is a liberal and progressive voice within the church and in society. It offers a clarion call for civility and reasonableness to counter the cantankerous cant that is so divisive and destructive to civil discourse and societal solutions. It is unequivocal in its stand for justice, peace, and harmony.
. . . I have confidence in its administrators, faculty, and board. I admire the school’s flexibility and willingness to change in order better to prepare women and men for ministry in uncertain and insecure times.
LTS is at the top of my “giving list” because it requires the generosity and full measure of devotion of all its alums and friends—most of us with ordinary financial means—if it is to fulfill the mission to which it is called.