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News: Partnership with Taylor Seminary Creating Groundbreaking Opportunities

September 18, 2017

A partnership agreement between Sioux Falls Seminary and Taylor Seminary, signed in June 2015, is creating groundbreaking opportunities in theological education.

This partnership began with a focus on online education, faculty development and global theological education. Over the past two years, the partnership has deepened significantly and has resulted in the integration of some systems, operational functions, and academic programming.  For example, the two schools share a registrar, and each school now recognizes their campuses as educational sites of the other.

Common Vision
This partnership is centered on the shared belief that theological education should be a system in which multiple partners participate in the holistic development of individuals. In addition, they have a shared vision in which seminaries, denominations, and local churches work together to build innovative models of theological education that are affordable, accessible, and relevant—all while remaining faithful to the unshakeable truth of God’s word and the transformational essence of theological education.

Looking Towards the Future
Taylor and Sioux Falls Seminaries have a shared vision for a renewed focus on theological education.  Working together will more fully meet the demands of that vision. The board, faculty, administration, and staff of each school are playing an important role in discerning how best to bring this vision to reality.

One of the ways the seminaries are working to renew the focus of theological education within the North American Baptist Conference is by exploring the level of interest in Canada for the Kairos Project, a reimagined approach to theological education developed by Sioux Falls Seminary in 2014. As a result, the seminaries are working together to recruit new students for the Kairos Project and are planning to host a Kairos intensive, which is a week-long modular course, in Edmonton in January of 2018. Other collaboration includes sharing registrar services, thinking creatively about student services, and enhancing online learning platforms.

The history and mission of both Taylor Seminary and Sioux Falls Seminary are essential and will be preserved.  The storied history of each institution is shaping the next chapter, one that is marked by service to the North American Baptist Conference, the wider Church, and those that God is calling to participate in his Kingdom mission.

What is the nature and extent of the collaboration between the Taylor and Sioux Falls?
Taylor and Sioux Falls plan to work collaboratively to reduce the cost of providing theological education and to enhance the work of each school. No merger is planned. Rather, the schools will seek to find ways in which they can function together in a more integrated and intentional way.

What are the benefits of working together?
The benefits extend into every area of mission and ministry for each school.  Already, student learning has been enhanced because students now have nearly twice as many educational resources and opportunities as they did before the partnership.  Working together has also resulted in better stewardship of resources.

What has led to the desire to partner?
This partnership is being driven by a clear sense of purpose and mission. The partnership benefits both institutions and is helping them best use the resources God has provided as each school stewards those resources more effectively.

Is there a timeline for the partnership or will it evolve over time?
As we continue to follow the leading of the Spirit, we learn more about the future God has in store for this partnership.  One thing we know for sure is that it will evolve over time.  After two years of work on this partnership, we have taken great steps forward. We are committed to a process of mutual discernment in which we provide space for the Spirit to guide each step forward–a process in which both Taylor Seminary and Sioux Falls Seminary boards, faculty, administration, and staff play an important role.

What are some next steps?
The schools are actively looking for additional ways to move the partnership forward.  A few steps that have been taken or that are on the horizon are:

  • The board chairs and presidents of each school have attended and participated in board meetings of the other school;
  • Faculty of each school have been in conversation with each other and have participated in shared faculty development initiatives;
  • The deans of each school have participated in faculty planning workshops at each school;
  • Exploration of enrollment management and admissions collaboration.

What do these changes mean for students?
Students will be better served through this new partnership. Serving students and the church well is the primary focus for this partnership. In practice, this means students will have access to:

  • Affordable, accessible, relevant and faithful theological education;
  • An expanded number of resources;
  • Enhanced and more diverse educational opportunities;
  • New educational programs;
  • Context-based theological education that doesn’t require traveling across the border;
  • Theological education that continues to be rooted in the Triune God and centered on the needs of the student rather than the needs or desires of an institution.

Collaboration Q&A
Because this collaborative effort is still evolving, some answers to commonly asked questions about the partnership between Taylor and Sioux Falls Seminaries are provided below.  Additional questions should be directed to Greg Henson at [email protected] or David Williams at [email protected].

Updated December 2017

 

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