Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Seminarians in Debt

The number of seminary students who borrow big money ($20k+) to complete their education has quadrupled in ten years, according to a new report. Not only that, but many more now enter graduate programs with significant debt from their undergraduate years.

This has serious ramifications for US congregations. Pastors don't earn that much to begin with -- a fair living, generally speaking, but no fortune. And less at smaller parishes. It used to work okay, back when seminary education was more heavily subsidized by church bodies. But as the money has run out among the mainstream denominations, so have those subsisidies. Which means that newly-ordained pastors, carrying more debt, may have to steer away from smaller, struggling congregations. Which will in turn struggle harder.

Bad news. But there is a funny part. The report refers to this as "theological debt." Well, no. It's educational debt. Theological debt was the basis of Anselm's atonement theory in Cur deus homo.

Okay. Maybe it's only funny if you blew a fortune on seminary.

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