We live in a different world as we approach the beginning of the 2020-2021 Academic Year. A global pandemic has not only challenged health organizations globally, but it has made its way into the lives of communities, families and individuals with devastating impact. It is a world where what we knew as “normal” is being redefined continually. One might say that “nothing remains the same.” Our political, economic, social and religious landscapes are searching for some sense of “equilibrium and order.
As a Covid-19 survivor, I see the world through a new set of lens. I see my life as a metaphor for the life of our planet and its inhabitants. In late March and early April, my life changed in ways that prevent it from returning to what I considered normal. I contracted the virus and began my fight for life. My wife also contracted the virus, but lost her battle for survival and went to be with the Lord. I entered the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death." It affected me individually, my family, my faith community, our seminary and my local community Likewise, the global community is faced with a virus that has defied all traditional conventions. It has left a trail of sorrow and death that has affected homes, neighborhoods, cities, states, our nation and the world. It will never be the same.
We are back! For theological and ministry training, it is not business as usual. The theme for our new Strategic Directions is “New Beginnings: Transforming Communities.” Theological education has never faced such challenges in recruitment, enrollment, balanced budgets and course delivery platforms. I am pleased to say that ETS has accepted these challenges:
Newly revised curriculum.
Nearly matched, and could exceed, last year's enrollment despite COVID-19 conditions
New certificate programs.
New workshops, community forums and panel discussions.
In a “Zoom” world, our staff, faculty, board and student body are moving forward into a bright future. I would also say that this is an exciting time for theological and ministry training. How and what do we teach students to do ministry in a new global reality? How do transformative professors teach a transformative curriculum to students who will be transformative servant leaders? We are excited and hopeful as we move forward, You are invited to come and join us on this journey of faith, hope and love.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Kenneth E. Harris
President and Professor of Biblical Studies