New program makes Seminary more accessible as LTS welcomes diverse new class online

Lexington Theological Seminary officially launched its distance-learning program in September, with 34 new students representing 13 states.
“I believe the online curriculum opens doors for students who, for various reasons, could not pick up and move to seminary,” said LTS President James P. Johnson.

The average age of a new LTS student is 41, from recent college graduates to students in their 60s.
“This is the most diverse class we’ve had,” noted Dr. Johnson. Thirty-two percent of new LTS students are African American, and 63 percent are women.

Accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, LTS remains focused on pastoral education. The new model moves the center of formation from the seminary to the congregation.

While taking classes, students also serve a congregation, work with an experienced mentor and participate
in a covenant group.

Two-thirds of the classes are online, while the rest are short, intensive courses at the seminary, for a total of 76 credit hours, including a major capstone exercise, for Master of Divinity students.

Other degrees and certificate programs offered online include Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies for Catholics, Certificate in Pastoral Ministry, and Continuing Education. The Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program is expected to follow online soon.

The distance-learning program at LTS is designed to allow students to connect with each other via interactive message boards and forums associated with the courses. Professors post videos of their lectures with graphics and other visual aids online.

Making the online experience interactive while building a sense of community among students is important, said instructional technology designer Ben Wyatt.

“Within the courses, we have a number of discussion boards that allow the students to bounce ideas off each other in a way that builds community with the other students as well as the faculty member teaching the course,” Wyatt said.

An online prayer group allows students to post prayers to further connect students with one another during their seminary journey. Some faculty members also hold virtual office hours via Skype, a program that Wyatt uses as well to train new students in how to use the online learning system.

New LTS student Trudy Betts, Associate Pastor at Tropical Sands Christian Church, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., said the program not only serves her need for access to seminary education without relocating her family, it enhances her relationship with her congregation. “I can already see the sense of community this is creating,” she said. “It demonstrates how seminary is still relevant to our churches, and that together, we’re much stronger than we can ever be standing alone,” Betts said.

Scholarships for 50 percent of the cost of tuition are available for Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ students.

For more information on distance learning at LTS, including scholarship and admissions information, please contact Dr. Charisse Gillett at cgillett@lextheo.edu or (859) 280-1249

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