Mission and Vision
Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia seeks to educate and form public leaders who are committed to developing and nurturing individual believers and communities of faith for engagement in the world.
Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
- Jesus Christ is the center and the interpretative key for our understanding of the Christian faith and scripture
- The LTSP curriculum is grounded in this affirmation
- LTSP educates leaders who are “centered” in Jesus Christ and faithful to their calling
- The task of theological education is to articulate the meaning of “centeredness in the Gospel” in a variety of ways in the service of communities of faith through the leaders it educates and forms
- The “Gospel of Jesus Christ” remains the same but is articulated anew for engagement with a diverse and manifold set of publics
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
- LTSP is a “Lutheran” seminary affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Being “Lutheran” means a particular way of theologically confessing and professing the Christian faith
- Being “Lutheran” is not a claim of exclusivity but a recognition of being a part of the wider Christian communion
- Being Lutheran means to be engaged with other Christian communions for mutual enrichment
- As a “theological seminary” LTSP is a “multi-denominational” teaching and learning, and worshiping and living community
- LTSP is committed to exploring and engaging with the urban/metropolitan, multicultural, multiracial, religiously pluralistic context of Philadelphia
Seeks to Educate
- Education is the primary mission of the seminary, approved and authorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other accrediting agencies
- We “educate” in the sense of providing necessary credentialing or certification through various academic and professional degree programs
- Education today involves creation of “learning communities” where teaching and learning occurs in a dynamic way
- LTSP educates “leaders” both for ministerial and non-ministerial leadership of the church and the world
- Theological education invariably involves engagement with other secular disciplines and hence it is multi-disciplinary
- “The goal of theological education is the development of theological understanding (aptitude for theological reflection) and wisdom pertaining to responsible life in faith”
- Theological education includes deepening spiritual awareness, growing in moral sensibility and character
- Education includes an adequate intellectual grasp of the traditions of a faith and acquiring the abilities requisite to the exercise of ministry in that community
- If education tends to focus on the “academic” side of teaching and learning, formation is central to theological education
- “Formation” includes academic formation but is primarily the development of a “habitus,” a way of living and practicing the gift of faith
- “Formation” includes ministerial, vocational, personal, moral, and spiritual formation, and involves a reflective process and supervised practical training
- Formation is grounded in the seminary’s contextual education programs to ensure that “education for ministry occurs in ministry”
- Seminary education is about development of leadership qualities and skills
- Leadership today is broader than “pastor-ing” a congregation and involves a public dimension
- Leadership is multi-dimensional, both ecclesial and public
- Leadership embraces the whole community, and not merely the Christian part of it
- Leadership involves abilities and skills to relate with various communities of faith, public, and governmental institutions
- Leadership is built on promoting a participatory and dialogical process in communal engagement
- Leadership is educating and equipping the community for individual and public vocations
- Leadership is also about stewardship of resources and a wise management of it in the service of community
Committed to Developing and Nurturing Individual believers and Communities of Faith
- The task of leadership is constructing and developing communities of faith
- This task is more urgent in the midst of broken or fractured communities of our society
- It is a missional task of building new communities of faith and sustaining them for the long haul
- Development is a communal exercise and involves the whole community
- Developing implies the dimension of growth, vitality, and advocacy
- Nurturing requires the development of capable leaders in the communities
- Authentic discipleship is integral to the development of leadership in community
- Nurturing is here used as a broader category than “serving,” “ministering,” or “maintaining” communities of faith
- Nurturing includes educating, organizing, planting, leading, supporting, equipping, counseling, visiting, serving, praying, evangelizing, teaching, preaching, and worshiping activities of the community
- Nurturing is not any one activity but rather a disposition of good leadership
- Nurturing is the engagement of the whole community with itself in mutual support and up building of all its members
- Nurturing the new and younger generation is an urgent task, especially to develop the next generation of leaders for communities of faith and the church
Communities of Faith
- Communities of faith is a recognition of plurality of communities in society
- In a narrow sense, the phrase refers to the church, as a “community of saints and sinners,” and, in a broad sense, to a variety of publics or diverse manifestations of communities in society
- The phrase recognizes that a community is seldom monochrome, monolithic, or singular, even within a denomination or religious group, and therefore leadership involves the ability to relate with diverse forms of communities
- Communities of faith includes but also transcends local, synodical, churchwide, para church organizations, or confessional groupings
- The phrase embraces other communities, Christian, non-Christian, and non-religious
- Developing and nurturing communities of faith invariably involves fostering a dialogue between and among communities
- Educationally the seminary’s curriculum includes an understanding of various communities in society – urban, ethnic/racial, multicultural, linguistic, etc.
Engagement in the World
- Engagement in and with the world represents the collective vocation of the Christian community
- The world is the locus of Christian engagement, and not an enemy
- The phrase embraces the mission of the Christian community, but understood in its broadest sense
- Engagement is an active posture of being in the world in the face of social, economic, political, cultural, and communal challenges.
- Engagement is the appropriation and practice of the gift of faith in the world
- Engagement implicitly recognizes a variety of ministries of the Christian community, from evangelism to social ministry, from advocacy to justice
- Engagement involves dialogue, cooperation, and shared community building activities with people of other faiths or no faith
- Engagement is both local and global: “glocal”
- LTSP is committed to engagement with the local community as well as the global church in a globalized world
- Global awareness, cross-cultural sensitivity, and Interreligious understanding is requisite for effective ministry today
The Values Statement
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia bears witness to the love of God as a diverse worshipping learning community – centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and grounded in Scripture, the Confessional tradition, and Worship – preparing women and men for service in the mission of the Church. This common Christian calling leads us to affirm the following values:
- Community and Hospitality: The seminary shall be a hospitable place, welcoming and open to all who study, work, and visit here, and to the community at large.
- Diversity: The seminary affirms its Biblical, Liturgical, and Lutheran Confession heritage and welcomes and thrives on the diversity of traditions that participate in its community, including the cultural diversity represented within the Philadelphia metropolitan area and in the world at large.
- Inclusivity: LTSP is an inclusive community that invites participation in its programs of study. As disciples of Christ committed to public leadership among God’s people in diverse and challenging cultural contexts, we eagerly learn from and welcome one another’s diversity, including, but not limited to, theological and ecclesial perspective, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, age, physical ability, veteran’s status, social and economic status, and sexual orientation.
- Civility: The seminary values civility in discourse, honesty, kindness, and courtesy in action, and mutual respect.
- Participation: The seminary seeks openness in decision-making and policy-setting processes. It seeks always to include in the process of deliberation parties affected by the decisions and to keep them informed.
- Academic Rigor: The seminary recognizes the importance of high academic standards, rigor, and frankness as essential to the critical discussion of ideas and policies. It affirms the value of education for all members of the seminary community, including life-long learning for clergy, laity, and staff.
- Community Health: The seminary seeks to advance and protect the health and wholeness of all members of the community, including single people and families. It acknowledges the diversity of family structures within the community. It does not tolerate physical/verbal/sexual harassment or abuse.
- Cooperation: The seminary fosters cooperation with other institutions of the Church such as the Eastern Lutheran Cluster of Seminaries, Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the judicatories, seminaries, and congregations of other denominations with which we collaborate.
Commentary on the Values Statement
In faithfulness to Christ’s community-founding instruction to love our neighbor, LTSP welcomes individuals to its common life without regard to gender, race, denominational affiliation, economic status, sexual orientation, or political commitment, seeking to foster a safe and affirming environment in which all God’s children are respected and God’s gifts to each one find fullest expression. As an academic community, we insist on open dialogue, the opportunity and responsibility to question received truths critically, the centrality of honest listening and responding. As a community of moral deliberation informed by the Gospel, we engage the ethical and moral questions of our time, seeking in integrity and faithfulness to hear God’s word and to follow, to reason carefully and sensitively, sensible of the needs of all those for whom God has declared God’s love, and to respect the conscience of our neighbor whose moral judgments differ from our own. As a community made one by one God, one Christ, one Spirit, we worship that living, active God, opening our doors to all called by God to that worship, offering the opportunity to express our praise and gratitude to God in many forms, receiving from God’s good hand the means of grace, the fount of our hope, and the strength and courage to carry God’s message of love and peace into the world. In all our life together we seek to serve God, reflecting the generosity and openness of God’s own grace.
*As approved by the LTSP Board of Trustees, April 2010