A word from our Associate Dean, Dr. Tim Sensing
The 2017-2018 academic year is coming to a close. I am completing my twentieth year with the Graduate School of Theology and the past five years as the chief academic officer. Through my time here I do not self-identify as an “academic.” I have always maintained that my primary professional identity is “minister.” The GST has allowed me to be a minister fully engaged in the life of the church in countless ways. The 2017-2018 academic year for the GST “has been” and is a year of dreaming. It is wonderful to work with colleagues who are eager to explore new horizons and engage in new possibilities. While it is premature to announce new initiatives, I am encouraged about the next chapter in GST’s story.
I am encouraged because I see faculty who are engaged in new endeavors that are producing fruits for churches. Drs. Jeff Childers and Curt Niccum’s work with CSART enhances opportunities for students to engage the biblical text and take advantage of one of ACU’s distinctive programs. CSART likewise provides church leaders with access to the highest levels of scholarship through public lectures. Dr. Carson Reed and his team at the Siburt Institute continues to expand its services. One of their explorations for the future involves chaplaincy endorsements and clinical pastoral education (CPE). Our strategic planning committee and Distance Education Director (Dr. Mindi Thompson) is actively exploring new student populations. We will start our third student cohort location in Africa this summer due to the generous funding from a donor. We are exploring new programs for Latino/a students. We are making international friendships that will impact our DMin degree. And the list goes on…
I am encouraged as I meet with current students and watch the spring graduating class preparing to depart. My opportunity to hear students tell their stories and share their aspirations for the church fascinates me. I look back at my own initial dreams when I graduated school and see how shortsighted I was then. Students today know they serve a “Big” God who has called them into marvelous partnerships to serve churches and the world. Their imaginations amaze me. If I were ever to return to full-time local ministry, I would do things differently because my students have taught me so much about what is both possible and necessary to serve God in our communities.
Our alumni encourage me. I serve on a “Looking” team that helps connect churches with ministers. Our graduates are in high demand for a reason. Our students are in high demand because of the quality of our alumni. Their ministries are transforming places with the grace of God. Most of their stories go untold. Thanks to the work of Emily Childers in our office, more and more of those stories are being highlighted through our newsletters, blogs, and social media.
So as the 2017-2018 academic year comes to a close, I see the door of 2018-2019 wide open with the ever-expanding possibilities of God’s glorious blessing allowing the GST to serve students in partnership with churches.