Saturday, December 05, 2009

Whew! What a Relief!

Per the Concordia Journal:

We do not sell seminary graduates ....

If nobody else will stand up and take a position, we at the Egg surely will:  Courageously said, gentlemen!  And fie on those yellow cowards at other sems -- they shall remain nameless for so many reasons -- who have taken to selling their graduates, often at a discount or even a loss.  Sadly, white slavers and the like don't pay what one might hope for newly-minted M.Div.s these days.  (Nor do parishes).

Joking aside, the line is from -- and the link points to -- an interesting article in the CJ, called "Stress Test."  (You'll have to scroll a bit to find it).   The main point to the article is no surprise, to be sure.  After a few years in the black, Concordia, St. Louis expects to run a $3 million deficit this year.  Honestly, all one can do is shrug one's shoulders and say "Welcome to the club."  So far as we can tell, every single American institution, right down to the candy shop on the corner, will be a six to twelve zeroes in the red come Christmas.

Still, we admit to a modest surprise here.  We had somehow imagined that conservative schools were insulated from the decline.  Honestly, it seems crazy, but we had just assumed that Richard Mellon Scaife or the LCMS's own Schwan Fund would ride in to the rescue.  (Liberal foundations, of course, don't fund theological education, because they don't see why theologians matter to their various other causes.  Which is another story).  We were apparently, um, wow-we-hate-to-say-it, wrong.

In fact, the article strikes a note sadly familiar to most of the old mainline, by ending the sentence quoted above "... and even if we did, tight placements in recent years show that our declining church is a tight market."

What makes the article interesting is its analysis of how things got bad, at least at this one school.  We won't try to summarize it here, except for the critical point:  Seminary funding patterns have changed dramatically over the years, and the people in the pews rarely know how much.

And of course the LCMS has two seminaries. The ELCA is larger, but not so much larger that it is likely to need eight.  We have already expressed our concern for the school in Chicago, when and if McCormick does pull out.  But how are the others doing?  Does anybody know?

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