Dean Flesher’s Year-End Review

Academic 2014-2015 was an exceptional year! Our student enrollment has increased to about 170 students in five academic programs: Master of Divinity (MDiv), Masters in Community Leadership (MCL), Master of Arts (MA), Doctor of Ministry (DMin), and Spanish Language Bachelor of Arts Equivalency in Ministerial Studies (BA equivalency). On May 16, 2015 we graduated 18 students that are now working in the following arenas:

Pastoral Ministry
Interim Ministry
Bi-vocational–Ministerial Staff at a local congregation
Running an specialized Independent 501c3
Social Worker at the local YMCA
Hospital Administration
Director of Communications at the Graduate Theological Union
Teaching at a private High School
Beginning a ThD program at the GTU

As you can see our graduates end up in a wide variety of locations and positions. We are no longer training solely for pulpit ministry in the traditional sense, but for broad categories of ministry inside and outside of the church building. National surveys have shown that church attendance and membership are in decline across the board, yet faith and spirituality are on the rise. This is a time for public discourse and theology. At ABSW we are training our students to become Public Theologians. Whether a graduate takes a church, chaplaincy position, or some type of non-traditional ministry, to be effective today they will need to have developed the skills for public discourse in diverse and unsettled environs.

Academic 2014-2015 was a politically charged year as our nation strove to confront the inequitable devaluation of some of its particular sub-cultures through public discourse and demonstrations. ABSW sought to address these concerns through relevant coursework that could be taken to the public-square as well as special chapel services and lectureships.

In fall 2014 we co-sponsored UNCO West (the Un-Conference) focused on entrepreneurial development of church/ministry; co-sponsored the Baptist—Muslim Dialogue along with Zaytuna College and the GTU Center for Islamic Studies; and embraced the #BlackLivesMatter movement through special chapel services that addressed issues related to race, poverty, police brutality, public demonstrations, and how to become a co-conspirator for the cause (Dec-Feb).

In spring 2015 ABSW professors geared their courses toward addressing the unrest in our nation, which included the creation of several new course options: The #BlackLivesMatter Movement; The Bible and the Newspaper; Parable Theory and African American Hermeneutics; Religious Readings of African American Women’s Literature; and The Food, Faith, Justice Garden Project. In addition, our Annual Drexler Lecture focused on the theme Extreme Poverty in the US: What to Do? and we co-sponsored the annual TransFORM conference held in Washington D.C.

As we move into academic 2015-2016 we are putting the pieces in place to take our curriculum(s) online. Beginning fall 2015 non-residential students can enroll in our MDiv and MCL programs online. To apply, visit our website, download the application, fill it out, and mail it in to our Director of Admissions, Rev. Tripp Hudgins.

If God is calling you to a ministry of Public Theology, then ABSW is the place for you.

Come join us, whether face to face or in cyberspace. Let’s start this new thing together!

11074135_10153323084959020_7941640121830232180_nDean LeAnn Flesher, Academic Dean and Professor in Hebrew Scripture

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