I know of plenty books that tell you how to get into medical school, how to study for the LSAT, or how to thrive in business school, but books on seminary education are pretty rare indeed. Keeping the Faith in Seminary not only fills a gap in for anyone interested in what seminary is like these days, it does so with wisdom, humor, and a deliciously wide variety of well-addressed topics.
Edited by Ellie Roscher, Keeping the Faith in Seminary is a collection of 17 essays by former seminarians, professors, and family members. The collection covers diverse areas including humor at seminary, the struggles and joys of living in on-campus housing, dating and singleness, the perils of denominational call processes, and even reflections on working on a seminary grounds crew. The essays are well-written and edited, and help give the reader insight into the breadth of seminary experience.
Now, I don’t pretend any impartiality with it comes to Keeping the Faith in Seminary. I’m grateful to call Ellie, the editor, a good friend and included in the collection is an essay of my own in which I suggest a more holistic view of vocation and call than many seminaries currently posses. I also helped recruit Marci Glass, another friend, for her essay “What Would Jesus Score” covering her experience with the PC(USA) ordination exam process.
No matter if you know any of the essayists — or Cynthia Campbell, President Emerita of McCormick Seminary who wrote the introduction — Keeping the Faith in Seminary is a great read for anyone considering seminary, reflecting on seminary, or simply curious about the church and ministry preparation. It’s also a good book to consider how vocation actually looks like in practice.
(As a church leadership note, for PC(USA) folks I especially recommend it to Committee for Preparation for Ministries to be read by committee members and inquiries/candidates together. Or in ELCA Candidacy Committee or UMC whatevers…you get the point.)
Finally, a lovely blurb from the back cover:
Keeping the Faith in Seminary is a candid and sometimes gritty look at what actually goes into the preparation for ministry–or could–or should. There are pokes and praises here for traditional seminary education, but these diverse personal stories and commentaries should be read by all of us who are involved in this part of church life. For some, it will be a survival manual. For others, a challenge. For all of us, a must-read!”
–Dr. Stephen A. Hayner, President, Columbia Theological Seminary