Targeted Areas of Work 2008-2014
The Association has identified three targeted areas of work for sustained attention over the next several years. Each targeted area is of equal importance, although the programmatic implementation varies according to program design and project funding.
Theological Schools and the Church. ATS will maintain an ongoing emphasis in a variety of its activities to enhance churches’ understanding about the function of theological schools in the context of the churches’ missions, and the schools’ understanding of the function of the church in the mission of theological schools. ATS will also focus on the changing character of the religious leadership “workforce,” and the relationship of these changes to the theological schools, degree programs, and patterns of educational offerings, including a reassessment of the purposes, educational goals, curriculum, and educational practices associated with graduate professional degree programs conducted by ATS member schools. This project will contribute to the efforts of the major project of the Commission on Accrediting to review and revise the standards and procedures for accreditation between 2008 and 2012. (Funding provided by a continuation of the Theological Schools and the Church: Finding a Future Together grant.)
Institutional Viability and Financially Stressed Theological Schools. A significant number of ATS schools are experiencing substantive and enduring financial stress that threatens their ability to attain their respective missions. ATS will seek to identify underlying issues that result in chronic financial stress, patterns of institutional responses that could ameliorate the impact of this stress while schools are seeking remedy, and patterns of institutional effort that could provide for healthier financial futures for these schools. In collaboration with the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education and In Trust, the Association will redevelop the Strategic Information Report to strengthen its usefulness by the schools in the areas of governance, administration, and institutional planning and assessment. ATS will also develop instructional guides to enhance the usefulness of the Institutional Peer Profile Report and the Strategic Information Report. (Funding needs to be obtained.)
Christian Ministry in an Increasingly Religiously Plural Continent. Among the many changes that are occurring in North America is the growth of religious communities other than the Christian and Jewish faiths with which ATS schools have been most closely identified. The increasing number of adherents to these other faiths in North America will invariably affect the practice of Christian ministry. Ministers and priests will need to be better informed about the commitments and practices of these religious communities; they will need to expand their own theology with a theology of world religions; and they will need to be able to minister in the contexts of interreligious interaction and engagement in the settings where they will serve. Religion has been both a uniting and dividing influence, and ATS schools will need to identify those practices that the majority religion in North America should undertake to ensure religion’s positive contribution as the continent experiences the increasing presence and cultural power of other faiths. (Funding needs to be obtained.)