[an error occurred while processing this directive] This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in September 2006. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news

Seminary Convocation Focuses on Transformation

by Laura Lehman Amstutz

Seminary Dean Ervin Stutzman"I believe that God is calling us toward transformation, both as individuals and as a community, by the power of the Holy Spirit," Eastern Mennonite Seminary dean Ervin R. Stutzman declared in a convocation message to students, faculty and staff on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

"Over the last number of years, we've been discussing God’s call for the seminary to engage in God’s mission in the world, to prepare leaders for the mission-driven church," said Dr. Stutzman. "This year, the seminary community will focus on being transformed for that work, both as individuals and as an institution."

Stutzman looked at what might have been the first "missional seminary" in Acts 19:1-10, where the Apostle Paul preached in Ephesus . He noted that Paul's "seminary" had an apostle and disciples, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, a focus on the kingdom of God , a local church, a lecture hall, persuasive argumentation, daily discussions, public meetings, a multicultural focus and a regional impact.

Stutzman said that Eastern Mennonite Seminary "could follow Paul’s model" in several areas.

"I imagine that Paul taught many of the same things in this seminary that he wrote in his letters to the churches," he said. "I believe that the teaching was both deeply theological and intensely practical.

"I imagine that Paul sent out students in teams - two by two or in groups - so that they could practice Christian community," he continued. "Just as Paul often traveled with companions in ministry, he most likely invited others to be companions in the mission task."

Stutzman noted the curriculum revision and transformation process the seminary will begin this year. Seminary faculty will study a book titled "Educating Clergy" and will work to focus the curriculum on educating students to lead missional churches.

"Over the next year, we will seek to develop key partnerships with a number of congregations on the growing edge with the hope of developing an interactive learning system," Stutzman told the assembly.

He expressed hope that the transformation spoken about in the seminary slogan, "Formed in Christ, Transformed to Lead, will speak to more than just the students who come to seminary," adding: “I pray that this transformation will embrace our entire community – faculty, staff and students - and that our whole way of being and doing as a seminary may be transformed over the next few years."

The seminary convocation was rescheduled from Aug. 31 because of the sudden death of Stutzman's brother-in-law, James Haldeman. Stutzman and his wife Bonnie traveled to Elizabethtown , PA , to attend the funeral.

Read the entire convocation speech