From Kentucky to DC: A Change in Seminary

As many of you know, I have transferred out of Asbury Theological Seminary.   Although it was not an easy decision, I am excited over the alternatives.  Let me begin by detailing the reason behind my choice:

The first and major reason for this choice was finances.

This past year Asbury raised tuition, and as a result, was pushing toward level that was getting close to $50,000 to finish.   Each time I look at my 13 year old daughter, I realize that in just four or five years, we will be looking at college.  As a result, I started to ask how I could spend so much on my own education, with hers is hovering right around the corner.  

Second, the program at Asbury Seminary was also a major source of frustration.  

I have come to the conclusion, although they are ahead of most of the UM Seminaries in offering the alternative approach to seminary, they are still far behind your average college or university.   Asbury appears to be a seminary that provides online access,…rather than a seminary dedicated to delivering an online seminary degree. 

Their systems are convoluted, and they are not distance friendly.    On multiple occasions, with a paper or exam deadline just a short time away, I called up information technology to request help in accessing a stalled or crashed system.   When I was able to get through to an individual, I was met with “I don’t know” or “You need to come to the information technology center” (IN KENTUCKY!)

They certainly have excelled in delivering the content of a Divinity degree, but fail when it comes to meeting the support needs of the average student. 

In addition to this roadblock, Asbury’s scheduling did not permit the smooth attendance in their extensive sessions for distance students.   In the distance program, we are required to be on campus for 1/3 of total class requirements.   It’s true that they offer extensive sessions throughout the year, but often it was over 4 or 5 weekends, once a week for a month, or in three or four week sessions.   At $700-1000 in travel, and the coordination of work schedules this schedule got both financially and work unfriendly (To say the least!).

Lastly, the conservative nature of the seminary and its students was oftentimes problematic.  

I most certainly feel privileged in having the opportunity to hone my ability to defend what I believe, and a great deal of that comes from my classroom experiences at Asbury.   It’s also important to note, that although I have met many who hold ultra conservative views and approach them in responsible and honorable ways, I found myself continually in a position of defense rather than learning.   

I couldn’t help but get the aching suspicion I was cutting myself short.  This was not the experience that I was looking for or that I thought could best prepare me for the incredibly challenging mission field that is New England.

(Its hard to believe that in the year 2010, there are still places in the greater church where the debate on whether or not women should be ministers!)

In speaking over the years to many of our conference’s leadership on the issue of Seminary opportunity, I know that many understand both the difficulty and problems associated with obtaining a seminary education in New England.  This is especially the case for those who take the “tent making ministry” approach of working full time.   I am confident that within the next five years, serious strides will be had in this regard.  Until then I must wait patiently.

Anyways, to meet the education and eventual ordination requirements of the United Methodist Church, I have decided to start attending the COS program at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC.   This is not only significantly less expensive, but also, from what I understand,  a seminary that is more in line with my own theological leanings.    I am excited to start at the end of June.

Unfortunately,  my late enrollment led to a expedited pace to read and prepare all the papers that needed to be complete before the start of this summer’s session.   As a result, I put virtually everything on the back burner to read, write and prepare.   (I even bought some of the texts in audio format, to work through as I run!)

Sadly, the JesseLeeProject was one of those parts of my life that required a little bit of step back in attention.   From Easter to Today, my posts were slow and limited.   

Yet, the good news is that I am now ready for the semester.    I am complete and ready to go.    With just proofreading and packing left ahead of me, I am quickly finding my life getting back into balance.

I have missed your comments and emails, and look forward to getting you all riled up again!  Pray for me as I begin this new phase of my educational journey!

God Bless, Scott.

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