skip to Main Content

From the Desk of Rev Dr. Kenneth E. Harris

“Life at ETS”

Greetings, the purpose of this communication is to provide updates to the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) community regarding a wide range of activities and news happening in and around our campus.

I am proud to report that great things are happening here at ETS. Praise God!!! I remain grateful to our very dedicated staff and committed faculty who work tirelessly to ensure that our seminary not only survives but thrives.  ETS is what I refer to as “The Miracle on Woodward”.  We remain the only ATS-accredited seminary of the Protestant tradition located within the City of Detroit.

I excitedly share the following updates:

General Overview

The past year has been both challenging and fruitful. Here are a few highlights that have impacted us in various ways:

  • Our new landlord, University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU), is moving forward with plans to build a new facility in and around our current site. We plan to lease space in this new facility that will allow us to have state of the art technology, new classrooms and common areas for our students to use. I will keep you updated on the status of this new facility as well as the date for the official groundbreaking.
  • We are nearing the end of a year-long engagement with the State of Michigan to renew our license to perform our work at this location. New regulations required the installation of several fire-safety initiatives that are now nearing complete. With the completion in view, we will be able to promote our academic MA which is our newest degree program. 
  • The sub-zero temperatures experienced recently brought some excitement in the form of a busted pipe in our Women’s Lounge. What we thought was a roof problem was, in fact, a rusted pipe leak that saturated approximately one-third of the Women’s Lounge carpeting and created a small lake in the basement dining area. The problem was fixed, and ETS staff dried and shampooed the carpet. The Women’s Lounge is back in use, even as we continue to make necessary repairs.
  • Effective January 1, 2019 Monique Marks, President and CEO of Franklin Wright Settlements in Detroit, became our new Board Chair. Attorney Ron Wagner, our former chair, continues to serve as a board member and legal advisor. ETS is grateful to Ron for his faithful and unrelenting years of service. Robert (Bob) Bruttell has agreed to continue to serve as Vice Chair. We owe a great amount of gratitude to Bob and the rest of our servant leaders who serve make up our esteemed Board.
  • ETS continues to be financially sound and responsible. Thanks to Rev. Dr. Genetta Y. Hatcher, Our Vice-President of Administration and Student Services and her team, who work with great diligence to ensure that we stay on budget, make the best use of our resources and properly manage what has been entrusted to us.

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS)

  • Urban Ministry Diploma (UMD)/Masters Programs Exception Petition: In the early fall of 2018, ETS filed an exception petition with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) for permission to exceed the admission limits for those who desire to pursue graduate studies without earning an undergraduate degree.  The petition was approved.  Students who complete our UMD diploma with the prescribed GPA can now apply to a master’s-level program as provisional students. This is a huge gift to ETS, and we plan to begin promotion of this new offering in very near future.  On Feb. 26, we presented the new proposed program at a meeting of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity.  The members expressed high enthusiasm, and several members advised their intent to apply to the new program offering.
  • African-American CEO’s and CAO’s Annual Meeting in Atlanta:  I recently attended my first meeting of ATS’s African-American Presidents and Deans. I have attended many meetings as Dean prior to my retirement in 2016, but this meeting of about 30 seminary executives was inspiring, informative and uplifting. It was fitting that the meeting took place during African-American History Month.
  • In Trust Center for Theological Education: During the aforementioned meeting in Atlanta, ATS shared highlights of a project that In Trust Center for Theological Education is spearheading with Historically Black Theological Seminaries (HBTS). In Trust Center for Theological Education, through a Lilly Foundation grant, is working with these theological schools to assist in strengthening their presidential leadership and the overall sustainability. 

The success of this initiative was so impressive I asked the In Trust Center to consider a consultation with ETS. Delores Brisbon is the senior In Trust consultant working with the HBTS’s. ETS share some of the same leadership, staff, resource allocation and sustainability challenges of other HBTS’s.  Ms. Brisbon, Amy L. Kardash (In Trust president) and I have agreed to an ETS consultation scheduled for May 8, 9 and 10.  We will spend the next few months preparing for their visit, and I am excited about the possibilities. Stay tuned. The consultation will cost approximately $5,000.  If you are interested in underwriting or sponsoring this visit, please contact our offices.

Academic Dean and Advancement Director Search

As you may know, ETS is seeking a Vice President of Academic Affairs/Dean and a Director of Advancement.  A number of candidates for Dean have been interviewed. We have one interview remaining.  The plan is to have a new Dean in place no later than the Fall of 2019. We have one upcoming interview for Advancement Director. Please pray forward. I will keep you updated on these important hires. 


I have no updated information to report on the library. In addition to the slow shelving of books, ETS students are experiencing access issues with the online databases for which we pay annually. I have a meeting scheduled with the Wayne State president in the near future to discuss this matter. My hope is that the visit will produce the appropriate results; if not, we will have to consider another approach to find a just solution. Thank you for your patience.

60th Year Commemorative Journal

It is not too late to purchase a Journal. The Journal, which has enjoyed high marks for its beauty, is still available to the general public for a donation of $100 and ETS students for $80.  Please contact our office at 313 831-5200 if you are interested in getting a copy of this great keepsake. Don’t be surprised if you are in it.

Strategic Planning Process

The plan is in the last phases of completion and implementation. A report to ATS on our progress is due April 1, 2019. Stay tuned.

A Personal Note

My wife, Ruthie, is scheduled to undergo a second back surgery on Wednesday of this week.  Your prayers are appreciated.

That is it for now! Whew, lots going on. So please stay tuned for future quarterly updates! Thank you for your support of the vision and mission of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary. It is the difference. God Bless you All…

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Dr. Kenneth E. Harris

President, Academic Dean and

Professor of Biblical Studies