6.23.2009

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS)

Post here any experiences or thoughts you have on TEDS as a place to do graduate work. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is seminary for the Evangelical Free Church. We are particularly interested in your sense of TEDS' friendliness to women students.

4 comments:

Justin said...

My wife completed an MA there last year and had a great experience. She found one professor, Dennis Magary (OT and Hebrew), particularly encouraging in her thesis work. I've also observed a proactive effort to hire female faculty of late, some recent hires being Miriam Charter (head of PhD in Educational Studies), Lisa Sung (first female in ST department), Susan Greener (Dean of Students), and Dana Harris (NT - one of the most popular professors). I know of several efforts to hire others as well. In addition, while earning my MDiv at Trinity, I had the privilege of hearing female preachers in chapel (students and professors) as well as having female TA's for some of my classes. If I've heard anything bad about women's experiences, it usually has to do with either (a) ignorant comments from fellow students, or (b) guest speakers who assume TEDS is still existing in the Grudem era. Institutionally, though, the school appears to be pretty committed to providing an encouraging atmosphere for women (though students should expect to hear both positions on the issue of women's ordination represented in the community - it is, after all, a school that attempts to represent the breadth of the evangelical movement). So, while it's not quite Yale or Fuller, neither is it Southern Baptist or Dallas. Hope that helps (of course, if you get any women commenters, they'll naturally have the final word!).

Jim Moore said...

Part 1: On women students at TEDS . . . (by an IWU grad)

TEDS official Catalog statement on equipping men and women for ministry is below (page 14 or so depending on which year of Catalog you look at -- http://www.tiu.edu/files/divinity/academics/TEDS_2009-10_Catalog_Master.pdf). Each year at new student orientation, Academic Dean Dr. Tite Tienou, reads this statement and affirms "we are here to educate all persons regardless of gender."

Our Catalog Statement:
A Community Committed to Equipping Men and Women for Ministry

Trinity acknowledges that, according to Scripture, both men and women are created in the image of God and are objects of God's gracious redemption in Jesus Christ. In Christ, both men and women are gifted and equipped for ministry and are called to serve God in varied ways. Because of this, Trinity seeks to be a community where both men and women are valued and warmly accepted as servants of Jesus Christ.

As an educational institution, Trinity does not ordain people. We seek to equip people for ministry. We actively recruit and admit women into all programs (including all foci of the MDiv program). We seek to address the unique needs of women as students and as future ministers in our curriculum development. We seek to develop placement services for women as they pursue the ministries to which God has called them. We also seek to promote and protect an ethos where women are encouraged to fulfill their ministry calling.

Jim Moore said...

Part 2: On women students at TEDS . . . (by an IWU grad)

Some context: First, we make it clear that we do not ordain people for ministry--that is the responsibility of the general/local church. We are an educational institution. We are owned and operated by the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), which does not ordain women (more on this below); however, our faculty are from about 15 different denominations, many of which ordain women and many of our faculty support the ordination of women.

On the other side of the question--there are those faculty who do not support the ordination of women. But gone are the days in which the ardent faculty shadow of complementarianism hung over campus life (those faculty left in the late 90s).

Today, many of our faculty are much more vocal in their affirming of women in ministry, and our women actively support each other in this role (such as through Thinking Women at Trinity; and the Trinity Society of Women which purposes "to encourage, equip, and challenge women in their preparation and training for ministry and leadership in the world"). While the complementarian-egalitarian discussion is still very much present, it certainly is not the center of campus life. We have also expanded our full-time women faculty - one in systematic theology, one in New Testament, one in education, one in counseling, as well as a number of adjuncts. Our Dean of Students is a woman; and all three TEDS academic deans (Tienou, Dr. Perry Downs, Dr. Jim Moore), and our MDiv Director (Dr Wayne Johnson) affirm the role of women in ministry (including ordination and the senior pastorate). (Denominationally they are Christian and Missionary Alliance, Presbyterian Church USA, The Wesleyan Church, EFCA respectively.)

Now, beyond the facts . . . I do not believe a woman attending here would find that they are derided by our faculty. The faculty are generally affirming and recognize this as a sensitive issue for many, but appreciate the place of women in their classes even if they do not agree with ordination of women. When they teach as faculty, they are strong in their opinions on this matter--both pro and con--as they are about other matters as well (which sometimes makes students uncomfortable). Some women students have told me that they select certain classes based on a particular faculty member’s position on women. Generally the "pressure" that our women students experience is from other students who sometimes ask "why are you here?" Some of us try to actively encourage women students preparing for ministry in their denominations (the Wesleyans, Assemblies of God, ELCA, Presbyterian USA, Anglicans, Nazarenes, Methodists).

I imagine most of the present "frustrations" in this area come from EFCA women who are frustrated with their church's stance on women in ministry, and the reality that future placement in the EFCA is a significant challenge. The EFCA will not "ordain" women nor appoint them to a senior pastorate, but will give women a "permanent license" and as such appoint them to church staff positions. Women who come from churches affirming women's ordination do not experience this consternation, and can receive a superb education here, and have genuine hope of future placement in their affirming denominations.

A woman, or anyone for that matter, who comes from a Wesleyan and/or women in ministry affirming background, will find ample support for their position here at TEDS in a context which attempts to be thoroughly biblical and recognizes the breadth of differing opinions on this subject.



About the writer . . . Jim Moore (BA '85 Biblical Literature and History, and MA '86 Ministerial Education -- both from now Indiana Wesleyan University; PhD '95 Trinity Evangelical Divinity School); and Associate Academic Dean at TEDS since 1997; an Ordained Minister in The Wesleyan Church under appointment by the Indiana North District to TEDS in Inter-Church Service

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