The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) traveled to New Haven, CT to meet with officials from Andover Newton Seminary at Yale and Yale Divinity School (YDS) on May 8, 2018. The meeting, which was hosted by Martin Copenhaver, President of Andover Newton, and Debora Jackson, Director of Lifelong Learning at Yale Divinity School, was an opportunity to affirm the historic relationship between ABCUSA and Andover Newton, while forging a new partnership with Yale Divinity School.
Andover Newton’s historic Baptist roots date to 1825 at the founding of Newton Theological Institution. “Our connections with ABC, USA remain strong,” asserted Martin Copenhaver. “While the school is leaving its Newton Centre, MA location for New Haven, our mission of educating inspiring leaders for the 21st century remains unchanged.” The NEC were one of the first to hear that the Andover Newton Seminary educational plan had been unanimously endorsed by YDS faculty. Students opting to affiliate with Andover Newton Seminary will receive a YDS degree and an Andover Newton Seminary diploma. Required classes will include Border Crossings, Clinical Pastoral Education, and Supervised Ministry field placement in a congregational/denominational setting.
Additionally, the NEC learned of the new Lifelong Learning program instituted in 2017 at YDS. “We provide clergy and laity a vibrant array of opportunities to deepen and extend their understanding and practice of their faith tradition,” said Debora Jackson. In addition to curating and availing existing resources and events, the Office of Lifelong Learning has created innovative programs such as Continuing Education for Pastors in Science, which melds Theology and Medicine, and the Clergy Scholars Program, linking theoretical study with praxis.
The meeting ended on a hopeful note as the conversation focused on opportunities for partnership between ABCUSA and the seminaries. The NEC noted, for example, the possibility of YDS and Andover Newton’s participation in the June 2019 Summit by the Sea in Virginia Beach, VA. Andover Newton officials offered to invite ABC leaders to engage with American Baptist students on campus. ABCUSA General Secretary Dr. Lee B. Spitzer summed the sentiment of the meeting, “I sense a real energy that the Spirit is doing something new and fresh in our spiritual family. Local churches and clergy need the support of seminaries as they face unprecedented ministry challenges in the twenty-first century.”