An Episcopal Center for Learning & Discipleship

Eyes on the Horizon

When Seabury Academic Dean Ellen Wondra and Bexley Dean Tom Ferguson set out to develop a common Anglican Studies program—the first joint offering of the new federation between the two seminaries—they were aiming to train students "who are looking toward the horizon rather than over their shoulders," says Wondra.

"Bishops, commission on ministry chairs, and experienced clergy tell us that people seeking ordained ministry need more preparation for ministry in the 21st century," she says. "We need to teach the Anglican tradition in the context of other faiths, other Christian traditions, and the spiritual experiences of people who aren't part of a religious tradition."

The new Anglican Studies diploma from Bexley Seabury requires a course in ecumenical, interfaith or international ministry, a course in congregational mission and leadership, and a course in practical theology in addition to the standard Anglican studies curriculum that covers spirituality, theology, history, liturgy, music and canon law.

The new curriculum kicks off in the fall of 2013 with a course in the pastoral offices taught in Columbus by Bexley Seabury President Roger Ferlo. "Like any seminary course, we will study the history, purpose and liturgical forms of the offices," says Ferlo. "Our investigation, however, will be guided by our understanding of post-modern culture. Are the Prayer Book offices effective in today's world? What rites do we lack to answer the world's need?"

The new Anglican Studies courses on offer this fall include a Columbus course with Ferguson that will focus on the history of Anglicanism as a diverse, globalized communion, and Professor John Dally's Chicago course titled "Strategies for Teaching the Bible."

"Seminarians learn about the history and content of the Bible, but after they begin parish ministry, it can be difficult for them to translate their learning into terms that parishioners can use and share," Dally said. "This course picks up where traditional seminary courses leave off with strategies for teaching the Biblical story in ways that can lead to personal and communal transformation."

Wondra and Ferguson knew that it wasn't only the curriculum that needed to change in the new program. "Our students are self-starting and self-directing," Wondra said, "and already engaged in ministry in their churches and communities. They have full lives, and uprooting for three years to attend a traditional residential program is not appropriate for them."

Students seeking the Anglican Studies diploma can mix and match classes and campuses to suit their schedules. The new program offers intensive weekend and week-long courses in both Columbus and Chicago as well as traditional semester-long classes in Columbus. Wondra will also teach the federation's first online-only course this fall—a class in Episcopal Church polity and canon law.

In the last several years, students in Seabury's Anglican Studies program have come from across the country, and Wondra expects the appeal of the Federation's new program to have even broader reach. "Bexley and Seabury started by training students for ministry on the frontier," she says. "Today's frontiers are global and interfaith, and we're still looking toward them."