A New Kind of Collaboration, pt. 3

February 10, 2020

Last week we looked at an exciting new “integrated partnership” with Evangelical Seminary. Today, we are sharing an update about our very first integrated partner, Taylor Seminary!

The partnership began in 2015 and created groundbreaking opportunities in theological education.  Our focus, at first, was on online education, faculty development, and global theological education. Over the past few years, the partnership has deepened significantly and resulted in the integration of some systems, operational functions, and academic programming.  By virtue of this partnership, God has enriched and expanded the Kairos Project.

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, we 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
We have a shared vision with Taylor for a renewed focus on theological education.  Working together more fully is meeting the demands of this vision. Our boards, faculty, administration, and staff are all playing an important role in discerning how best to continue bringing this vision to reality.

One of the ways we are renewing 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, we now work together to recruit new students for Kairos and host Kairos gatherings (week-long modular courses) in Edmonton. Other collaboration includes sharing registrar and enrollment services, thinking creatively about student services, and enhancing online learning platforms.

The history and mission of both our seminaries is essential.  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 this collaboration?
We work collaboratively to reduce the cost of providing theological education and to enhance the work of each school. We continue to find ways that we 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 at each school.  Already, student learning has been enhanced.  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 led to the desire to partner?
This partnership is driven by a clear sense of purpose and mission. The partnership is mutually beneficial and is helping us best use the resources God has provided as we steward those resources more effectively.

How is the partnership evolving 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 is that it will continue to evolve over time.  After several years of work on the 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?
We continue to actively look 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;
• The boards of both schools recently gathered together for a time of prayer, learning, and discernment.
What does the partnership mean for students?
Students are better served through the partnership. Serving students and the church well is our primary focus. In practice, this means students 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 ghenson@sfseminary.edu or David Williams at david.williams@taylor-edu.ca.

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