Actions of far-reaching import have just been taken by the Spring Council of the General Conference Committee concerning our ministerial training program—first in our colleges, then in the field training internship period, and finally in our Seminary graduate provisions. Further study has led to certain readjustments and distinct improvements over the Cleveland Autumn Council actions reported in the January Ministry.
Two full days were recently spent in intensive discussion by a large committee representing the General, union, and local conferences, the senior colleges, the Seminary, the Department of Education, and the Ministerial Association. These discussions were crystallized into unanimous recommendations. They were then considered by the General Conference Committee in Spring Council assembly, where they were adopted in essentially identical form. The improvements pertain to three general features.
First, the recognized need of a more adequate senior college training for the ministry before granting the B.A. degree has led to the adding of twelve semester hours to the present 128 hours required for graduation from our college schools of theology. This will enable the student to obtain a broader and more adequate basic training. Additional subjects of a cultural nature and others meeting specific needs will absorb these supplemental twelve hours and make for well-rounded ministry. These added hours will be equivalent to an added summer term.
Second, the development of a more adequate field training and supervision of ministerial interns during their two years in the conferences following college graduation was, after discussion, referred to the minority committee for detailed study and recommendation. These will erelong be brought forward for action.
Finally, the Seminary training program was restudied and has been strengthened through the following provisions:
1. A one-year graduate course of basic requirements in Bible, practical theology, systematic theology, church history, archaeology and history of antiquity, Biblical languages, research, health evangelism, sacred music, and various vital electives, which will lead to the professional degree of M.A. in Religion.
2. This one-year course may be applied as the first year of the full two-year course previously authorized, and leading to the B.D. degree for those who can continue on, or return later to the Seminary for this second year of advanced work.
3. The guaranteeing provision voted by the Cleveland Autumn Council for the two-year course has been amended to a voluntary support of the plan on the part of the conferences, who have given assurance of purpose to send to the Seminary each year not less than one worker for each five thousand members or major fraction thereof.
4. A course in health evangelism is to form an integral part of the one-year course leading to the degree of M.A. in Religion, but this will be concentrated in a four-week interterm period, coming annually just prior to the close of the first full year. This will make possible the taking of this special course by workers unable to come to the Seminary for other studies, and will begin with the summer of 1946.
5. A special school of evangelistic and church music for singing evangelists and church musicians will be held in the same four-week interterm period, just before the close of the school year. This will likewise be offered yearly, beginning in the summer of 1946. In the case of the two-year B.D. students this will normally come before the close of the second year. The course will likewise be open to those who desire this special work but who cannot come for other courses.
6. Bible instructors desiring to take the M.A. in Religion course will be given special courses of instruction in practical theology, specifically adapted to their needs—these to be in lieu of the usual courses in preaching and evangelistic organization.
7. The general Master of Arts course for Bible, church history, and Biblical language teachers will continue essentially as heretofore. This is a research course, with its Master's thesis and related requirements, thus differing from the two professional ministerial courses leading to the M.A. in Religion and the B.D. degrees.
8. The Seminary continues to remain open to special students who can come for but one or two quarters. Experienced workers who do not have their B.A. degree or its equivalent may also attend the Seminary classes with real benefit, but not having graduate status, they must of necessity be on an audit basis.
One of the principles for future Seminary teaching is the enlarging of the instructional staff of each major department. This will be achieved by securing competent teachers and ministers for special classes in the respective fields of their specialty. In succeeding issues, other contributors will give a more detailed, over-all picture of the denominational ministerial training program here briefly outlined. We are confident that the world brotherhood of the ministry will he vitally interested in these matters.