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Why Spiritual Formation is Important in Seminary


Part One

faith sharingThe student was apprehensive, reluctant to fully engage. After all, those experiences and feelings he was asked to share were intimate—they belonged to him. The nervousness was palpable among the small group of students as they met for the first time. Thus, the faith-sharing process at Northeastern Seminary begins.

This process, a central element of the personal and spiritual formation program, is described by Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation Rebecca Letterman (‘08) as an intentional place and space in which students take time to reflect on moments of significance in their lives. It provides a way for students to slow down enough to perceive God at work in themselves and others. They experience the hospitality of interested listening and also have the opportunity to learn to listen deeply to others. In this setting students discover they are not alone; others struggle with similar things in their lives and ministries. And it provides experiential learning of the theological truth: "God is at work in the world—sometimes even without me!"

The intentional growth reflection sessions are led by a certified spiritual director, most often alumni of the program. Graduates recall that the faith-sharing experience, with its commitment to observing silence and creating spiritual and emotional space, has a counterbalancing effect as it allows for synthesizing data gathered in the classroom. As Suzanne Pearson (‘09) describes, “It offers space and time … for spiritual reflection on the massive volumes of academic material one is learning and to listen for the living word of God.” John Miller (‘04) agrees, “It moves the ‘information’ into the ‘formation’ of the person,” while Steve Dunmire (‘05) notes appreciation for the process: “Especially in hindsight, I think it’s one of the areas where Northeastern made my seminary years a time of spiritual growth, not just learning.”


Read Part Two.

Start the New Year, Start Seminary: 7 Reasons to Start in January

Perhaps you are like me that when August comes around, you naturally think about starting school. This is the case for many of us. However, through the history of Northeastern Seminary, we have found that some people really value the opportunity to start in January (spring semester), rather than in the fall. Below are seven reasons why people start in January. 
  • Some occupations (ex. teachers, agricultural workers, etc.) have busy fall seasons and January allows these people toJanuary 2012 resized 600 start seminary at a time when their workload is more manageable
  • Individuals can qualify for returning student scholarships as early as their second semester instead of having to complete a full academic year
  • There are often unique scholarships specially earmarked for students who start in January
  • Starting in January allows individuals to graduate one semester sooner
  • The January group of seminary students tends to be smaller which fosters an even greater sense of personal attention and community with faculty and colleagues 
  • Students who begin in January - when video conferencing among multiple classroom sites around New York State is not part of the academic instruction - enjoy the live presence of faculty in every class
  • Starting your courses in January allows you to study the same fully accredited curriculum and benefit from the same excellent teaching that is provided in our September start courses.

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