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Values and Perspectives that Shape Theological Education at United Theological Seminary

In the light of the mission and vision of United, the faculty intends that education at United be shaped by the following values and perspectives:

1. United is a Christian institution. We do what we do as a response to our experience of the human condition and God’s invitation to participate responsibly in the ongoing re-creation of the world so that all of God’s creatures are restored to wholeness. United is open to persons of all faiths, because in Christ, God recalls us to our basic human identity as intended by God.

2. Because United was chartered by the United Church of Christ as an ecumenical community, we value both our roots in the Reformed tradition and the ecumenical scope of our mission.

3. In keeping with the Reformed tradition’s affirmation of the baptismal ministry of all believers, and in keeping with its own mission “to prepare women and men for effective ordained and lay leadership in church and society,” we intend our curriculum to serve students preparing for leadership in either ordained or lay roles.

4. The theological tradition to which the church as a whole is heir exists in dynamic relation with culture. Our methods, both those we teach and those by which we teach, should reflect the dynamic nature of that relationship.

5. The church exists in a dynamic relation between the tradition it inherits and the need for ecclesiastical and social transformation. Maintaining the dynamic tension between the importance of transmitting the tradition and the importance of transforming it lies at the core of education at United. Necessarily, we also view theology as essentially an open system that is capable of change and discovery, rather then a closed system that needs only to be repeated and adapted.

6. Because we view the construction of theology as an imaginative construal of the dynamic relations among traditions and contemporary experiences, we regard the arts, the social sciences, and other modes of attending to human experience as essential components of theological education.

7. Because we see our work as a participation in God’s ongoing creation, we are hopeful about the possibility of transformation of persons, institutions, and societies toward greater wholeness and justice. We regard the furthering of this transformation as central to the mission of the church. Thus this focus is necessarily crucial to the education of religious leaders at United.

The ministries to which our students are called will take place in a broader societal context shaped by a number of major factors, of which our curricula thus must take account:

Increasing cultural and religious diversity
Individual isolation and abdication of communal responsibility
Rapid social and institutional change, including major changes in ecclesiastical institutions
Increasing awareness of, and heightened struggle around, systems of dominance and oppression, local and global
Economic and cultural globalization
Ecological fragility
The rapid development of information technology and its attendant social changes
A longing for spiritual depth
Threat of war and search for peace

9. We value openness and dynamism in responding creatively to the challenges and needs of our environment, so that our educational means most effectively pursue our educational mission.

10. We value the accessibility of theological education.

11. Essential to the success of the curriculum is the creation for students of open learning communities in which students are supported in the various ways in which people learn.

12. We must conceive of the curriculum and the evaluation of students within it holistically, hence the centrality of integration.


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Sharon Tan
Vice President for
Academic Affairs/
Dean of the Seminary

Please call the dean’s office
at 651.255.6168 with any questions.

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