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Presidential Update: Late Summer 2019

It is an absolutely beautiful, early August summer day and I am enjoying being with my wife of 50 years, Ruthie. I’ve just finished grilling two bone-in ribeye steaks that are resting in preparation for dinner. We have chased a persistent squirrel from two of our bird feeders for the fourth time today, and the birds are having a feeding frenzy. We are sitting at our picnic table under a large umbrella enjoying the gentle, cooling breeze of a near-perfect summer afternoon.

But I can’t stop thinking about our church musician and master psalmist, George Chenault. George led us in a wonderful worship service this past Sunday, and then passed away suddenly Tuesday morning. He was my friend and brother in Christ, and I am in deep grief over his passing while also contemplating his upcoming celebration service next week.

As President/Dean of ETS, I am reminded daily about the importance of my role. It is not just a job, but a call to service. It is a calling to prepare and equip current and future leaders of church and society to lead and serve with a firm commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; a Gospel of justice, peace and reconciliation. In the midst of enjoying a beautiful day, reflecting on the loss of family and friends, dealing with all of life’s joys and sorrows – and equipping others to do the same – our work at ETS is an important part of our life mission as board, administration, faculty, staff, students and alums.

Our world is in great demand for spiritual and moral leaders who can lead with compassion and competence. ETS is committed to doing its part to prepare such leaders.

The purpose of this update is to share information about our work. These updates are brief summaries, but hopefully will give you a sense of what is going on in the life of our beloved Seminary.

Our world is in great demand for spiritual and moral leaders who can lead with compassion and competence. ETS is committed to doing its part to prepare such leaders.

2019-20 Academic Year

The Doctor of Ministry Emergent Week begins in a few weeks. New and returning students will gather for a week of studies beginning Monday, Aug. 12. Students in our traditional DMin program will be joined by students in our new CPE cohort. It promises to be an exciting week of study, fellowship and growth.

Students in our Master’s and Urban Ministry programs will return in early September.  A final Open House is planned for Thursday, Aug. 8, from noon to 3 p.m.  Our recruitment team and other ETS staff will be present to welcome you and assist in any way needed to get you ready to begin classes in September. Current and new students are invited to stop by and enjoy our last recruitment event before Fall classes begin. Remember, you can go online at and complete your application and/or register for classes. Don’t wait until the last minute. We will see you in the Fall.

Convocation 2019

Our annual Convocation will take place on Sept. 5, 2019, at 6 p.m. The event marks the official opening of the academic year. I will be the preacher for the evening and plan to share aspects of our vision for the future. The entire ETS community is being asked to attend to help get the new academic year off to a great start. The public is invited as well.

Classroom Furnishings

Returning students will notice a few changes in the Fall. Classroom furnishings have been updated thanks to connections through ETS adjunct professor, Dr. Kenneth Howard. Study tables and arm chairs have been added to the Women’s Lounge and classrooms in the Renaissance Room area. Thank you, Dr. Howard! Other minor changes are coming as we move into the new Academic Year. Stay tuned!

In Trust Center for Theological Education

ETS has engaged the services of In Trust Center to perform an assessment process for the seminary. It is hoped the process will assist the seminary in improving its organizational, operational and educational programs. I will share more details later.

Online Programs

The seminary will change its online platform in the next few weeks and will be expanding its online offerings throughout the year. I will say more about this at Convocation.

University of Michigan Credit Union

The University of Michigan’s plan to build a new facility is moving forward – slowly.  Finalizing plans with the City of Detroit are progressing, and it is hoped a date for ground-breaking will be announced during our Fall or Winter terms.

Support for the Work of ETS

Plans are being made for a number of efforts to renew and strengthen financial support for ETS. You can expect to receive information about a Fall campaign and programs like the President’s Circle and support from local churches. Your past support is deeply appreciated, and we look forward to your partnership in empowering our future growth and sustainability. Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving Day Parade Breakfast

ETS will again be hosting our annual Thanksgiving Day Parade Breakfast. Promotional information packets will be going out soon to highlight the event and solicit sponsors and donors.  It promises to be another outstanding event.

50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration – Thank You!

On June 28th, Ruthie and I celebrated 50 years of marriage. We celebrated with family, parishioners and friends as we renewed our vows and pledged to work towards making our future lives together even better. We want to thank all of those who have sent us expressions of love and encouragement.

It’s difficult to summarize 50 years of marriage and ministry. It has not been easy, but loving each other has helped us love and serve others. A healthy, balanced marriage life where body, soul and spirit are wholistically integrated by the power of the Holy Spirit has been essential to Ruthie and me. Empowering others to do the same is part of our ministry. I might add that a great educational experience contributes to the development and sustainability of such wholesome life experiences.

You can expect another update late Fall or early Winter.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Kenneth Harris

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