Interesting, coming from the president of Princeton Seminary, M. Craig Barnes:
”Seminaries, typically, are well organized, well structured to train pastors to serve a church in the 1980s. And that’s just not working anymore,” he said. “We do have to change our way of creating church leaders in order to make them capable of handling that new society.”
”The church is becoming multi-cultural as the society is becoming more multi-cultural. And we’re having to pay attention to that… So we’ve got to equip students to lead churches that don’t look like your classic, staid, predominately white Presbyterian Church.”
More from the article:
For Seminary graduates in the 21st century, he said they need to have strategies for church growth, doing so by making the church relevant in the community. He said the Seminary is teaching students how to be more engaged in their communities—the strategy for turning around some of the decline in church attendance.
The Rev. Barnes, a native of Long Island, N.Y., came to the Seminary in 1978 to earn his master’s degree, fascinated by theology. Of his student days, he recalled being in awe of his professors—”women and men who would pace back and forth in front of the lecture hall as they would just throw out these elegant formulations of God who was at work in the world … .”
During weekends, he served a type of apprenticeship assisting at a church in Pennsylvania. The following Mondays, he and his friends would sit in the Seminary cafeteria talking about their mistakes.
”By the time I left, I was certain that I would continue to be devoted to the study of theology but also devoted to serving the church,” said the Rev. Barnes, 56.
His has been a peripatetic career.
Ordained in 1981, he began as an associate pastor in Colorado, later serving as the senior pastor of churches in Wisconsin, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh—his most recent post before taking the job at the Seminary. Asked if he would still agree with his sermons from his early days of ministry, he said his messages have evolved.
”What’s changed is they were more black and white, clear-cut, right and wrong kind of thinking, less ambiguity,” he said. “Now my sermons tend to spend more time focused on being caught between how it is and how it ought to be, more gray zone.”
Though living in Princeton, he is still making the weekend trips home to Pittsburgh to be with his family, who have not made the move yet. He and his wife, Dawne, have two sons.
He lets out a laugh when asked which job was harder, being the president of a seminary or the father of teenage boys. Both have similarities, he found.
”You love them both and you have a kind of a vision and a goal, yet you’re dealing with strong personalities.”
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