Role of Theological Schools in Sustaining Ministry

Lexington, Ky., Sept. 27, 2012 – Seminaries can play an important role in ministry and sustaining ministers long after graduation.

A conference of the Council on Theological Schools (CTS) focused on the role of such schools in the identification, recruitment and nurture of students to help ensure successful ministry for the long term.  Lexington Theological Seminary President Dr. Charisse L. Gillett and the Rev. Richard Spleth, Regional Minister of the Christian Church in Indiana, coordinated the conference Sept. 13-15 in Indianapolis.

“Our purpose was to begin a substantive dialogue within the Council on what changes, if any, are needed in seminary education to prepare students for effective leadership and ministry in a 21st century church context,” Dr. Gillett said.

“I am encouraged by the willingness of participants to consider changes in seminary curricula and experiential opportunities that may be needed to better train, equip and nurture future generations of pastoral leaders. Success will require perseverance and creativity,” said Jim Hamlett, President of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“We recognized that this is a whole church challenge,” said Spleth. “This will require congregations and regions to work with the seminaries to both identify good candidates for ministry and, most importantly, provide a network of nurture in the first five years of ministry following ordination.”

Keynote speakers were Daniel O. Aleshire, Executive Director of The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada; Matthew Bloom, Associate Professor of Management at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business and lead researcher in a Lilly Endowment-funded Flourishing in Ministry Project on the well-being of clergy and clergy families; and Christopher Coble, Program Director in the Religion Division of the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Participants included faculty, deans and presidents from Brite Divinity School, Christian Theological Seminary, Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago, Disciples Seminary Foundation, Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt University, Lexington Theological Seminary, Phillips Theological Seminary, and representatives from Higher Education Leadership Ministries, and the College of Regional Ministers.

“We are grateful for the leadership of HELM in its work with the Council and for the support and vision of the Pension Fund in hosting this gathering,” said Dr. Gillett.

The conference planning team included LTS Mentor Program Coordinator Jan Ehrmantraut, T. Eugene Fisher of the Pension Fund, Dennis Landon of Higher Education Leadership Ministries, Gillett, Hamlett and Spleth.



Lexington Theological Seminary is an accredited graduate theological institution of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Consistent with the Disciples’ historic commitment to Christian unity, the Seminary is intentionally ecumenical with students, faculty, staff and trustees of various denominations. The Seminary has been preparing leaders for the church since 1865. For more information, visit

The Flourishing in Ministry Project focuses on well-being among clergy and their families by studying the characteristics and influences of pastoral well-being over a lifetime. Data for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was gathered in partnership with the Pension Fund of the Christian Church and the Ministry Life Choices Initiative at Lexington Theological Seminary and the Christian Church in Indiana.

The Pension Fund serves the church by supporting ministers, missionaries and lay employees of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and related Campbell-Stone traditions. For over 100 years, first as the Board of Ministerial Relief and then as the administrator of the Pension Plan, it has sought to support the church and its ministry.