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Theological training in her home country of Lithuania – where there are less than 400 Baptists – takes place without a building or a budget, relying on volunteer teachers as well as students, she said. Issues of both funding and contex-

tualization have also led to an increase in distance learning, which can be done at a much lower cost than residential programs and

tailored for individual contexts.

Speakers noted, however, that face-to-face interaction remains crucial for ministerial formation. To deal with this, some seminaries are combining online courses with short- term residential programs. Others connect students with local pastors who provide personal attention and serve a mentoring role. While past training

Lina Andronoviene

has emphasized theory, current educators are giving more attention to

practical aspects of ministry. Chung said foundations of biblical exegesis and theological construction remain necessary, but educators must widen the fi elds of specialization to train Christian counselors, educators, social workers, musicians, and others who can integrate theological astuteness with practical skills. Lalor, of the United Theological College

of the West Indies in Jamaica, noted a growing inclination toward interdisciplinary studies, as students access university programs and engage other areas such as social sciences, mass communications, counseling, and other fi elds to prepare for more specialization in ministry. Changes in the candidates who seek theological training were noted as well. Many are now older, second-career students. Lalor said the typical student at his school is no longer a single male in his mid-20s, but more likely to be married and in their late 30s. These students “bring a rich history of life experience” to the table, Lalor said, challenging educators to harness that wealth of experience.

Andronoviene, who teaches at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, confi rmed Lalor’s assessment. She said European students are also more likely to be older and embarking on a second career. Several speakers noted an increase in the number of women studying theological education as well.


The shift in age is accompanied by a more ecumenical atmosphere in many countries, where it has become more acceptable for Baptists to study in non-Baptist institutions,

preparing students to minister to a new generation of believers in a changing world

and where Baptist schools are more likely to include students from other denominations. Speakers agreed that preparing students

to minister to a new generation of believers in a changing world is challenging. Andronoviene said Baptists in Eastern European countries learned during the Soviet era how to behave under persecution. But, she said, “It’s hard to fi nd our way in a new world where people just don’t care.” Even among those who are interested in spiritual matters, the framework of spiritual thinking has often changed. Meredith Stone, a PhD student at Brite Divinity School who represented the North American Baptist Fellowship, presented detailed research about subject areas that current educators and students consider to be important. Stone said the most important thing she

learned in the research “is that theological formation in North America is about the questions rather than the answers. This generation is not content to be taught someone else’s answers.” Contemporary students want to be able to dialogue about the crucial questions of faith, how they arose, what others have thought, and what it means in a practical sense. “They live in the ‘gray, maybe middle’ and ministry will depend on their ability to dialogue about these issues,” she said.


theological, spiritual formation cannot be neglected, several speakers said. Chung cited a need for spiritual and moral formation of students, while Lalor emphasized

one’s vocational, personal, spiritual and theological identity, as well as character formation.

Stone said spiritual formation must promote the development of a holistic person who can be a true spiritual guide to believers, not just a church leader modeled on the corporate executive.

Andronoviene also noted the need to help students develop personal competence and character as they prepare to proclaim the gospel: “People are not persuaded by argument,” she said, “but by lifestyle and integrity.”

The Holy Spirit Social Justice

and T

he Spirit-fi lled life has profound implications

for social justice and

outreach, said Burchell Taylor, a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance and former president of the Caribbean Baptist fellowship. Taylor, who spoke on the topic The Holy Spirit and Social Justice during the Baptist International Conference on Theological Education advocated for what he called “Spirit-empowered


a committed involvement in the world beyond the confi nes of the church. “The Spirit is deeply involved in the unfolding and outworking of God’s purpose in the world and the whole created order,” Taylor claimed. Therefore the Spirit’s witness is not limited or restricted to “the inner life of the church and its members.” This understanding has profound implications. A Spirit-led movement will be keenly interested in working toward the healing of creation because “the Spirit is the life-giving, sustaining and transforming power of and within creation,” asserted Taylor. A Spirit-led

church exists as an Meredith Stone

that “theological education is not synony- mous with ministerial formation.” “Ministerial formation goes beyond

theological education to include molding and instruction of students to embody what ministry is about,” Lalor said. It includes

alternative community in a world that “operates with a sense of its own self- suffi ciency and self-serving ends.” The church, on the other hand, works “for the establishment of an order of justice, righteousness and peace in society and the entire world.” The church, even while being involved in the world, should take caution that it does not lose its distinctiveness and status as an alternative presence. In order to be faithful to this Spirit-

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