Redeemer Presbyterian Church, one of the most influential evangelical churches in the country led by author and speaker Tim Keller, has partnered with a Mississippi-based school to form a seminary campus in New York City in 2015.
The partnership between Redeemer and Reformed Theological Seminary fits in with the desire of evangelicals to plant their flag in large cities such as New York. It also reflects the influence of Reformed theology on evangelical thinking, as well as the impact of megachurches on theological education.
And while many seminaries are still suffering declining revenues since the economic crisis of 2008, the model of building campuses in major cities has proved successful for the Mississippi flagship seminary.
Students in the New York City campus will be trained to start churches by pursuing a two-year master’s of arts degree in biblical studies at $430-450 per credit hour before receiving another year of pastoral church planting education from Redeemer. The campus will likely launch in Redeemer’s offices near Herald Square in Manhattan.
“Seminarians are not relocating to go to seminary,” said Ligon Duncan, chancellor of RTS. “They tend to stay regionally and study with institutions with which they have little theological sympathy in order to stay (in the same city).”
Keller, who rose to national popularity after his 2008 best-selling book “The Reason for God” and co-launched The Gospel Coalition network of Reformed leaders, has been one of the most influential leaders in evangelicalism. In 2001, he started Redeemer’s City to City initiative, which has helped start over 300 churches in 45 cities.
RTS, based in Jackson, Miss., currently has seven campuses in cities such as Washington; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; and Orlando, Fla. RTS provides scholarships for about 88 percent of its approximately 2,500 students, of which about a 1,000 are full-time students. Its leaders hope to do the same in New York.
The dean of RTS in New York will be James Anderson, academic dean for the seminary’s global program; its top administrator will be Steve Wallace, currently RTS’ chief operations officer.
The New York City launch could include as few as 10 students. Many seminaries are attempting to expand through distance learning, a shift RTS has avoided.
“We think there’s a loss of mentoring in modern theological seminaries with virtual or distance education, a loss of thickness,” Duncan said. “We’re trying to make it affordable in an environment that’s incredibly expensive.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Religion News Service
Sarah Pulliam Bailey