The name change will signal internal changes; all are effective August 1.
CLEVELAND, Tennessee – Lee University has announced a change in its oldest academic unit, from the School of Religion to the School of Theology & Ministry. The change has been in discussion since 2021, was ratified by the university's Board of Directors in its May 2022 meeting, and will go into effect on August 1.
"We aren't simply changing the signs and letterhead for this school," said Lee President Dr. Mark Walker, "this new name will accompany organizational changes which together better aligns with its mission and focus."
According to Walker, the new name "represents more precisely the fact that we are training and preparing ministers for their vocation. We are doing this by providing a solid foundation in Bible and Theology upon which we will build skills for ministry in the church and world."
The newly named School of Theology & Ministry will merge the faculty and programs currently present in the School of Religion's two departments, Theology and Christian Ministries. Dr. Terry Cross will continue in his role as Dean in the School of Theology & Ministry, and Dr. Bob Bayles, now the chair of the Department of Christian Ministries, will serve as the school's Associate Dean.
"Integration of theory and practice is a key component of the new STM," said Cross. "The two departments have been merged into one school in order to work together to achieve the goal of preparing ministers and leaders for service in the church and world of the 21st century."
Cross highlighted three new emphases for the STM: culture, apologetics, and practical experience. The STM will provide opportunities for its majors to study culture and how it relates to and impacts Christianity today. Students will learn to "read" culture for the benefit of their local churches and ministries. There will also be a renewed focus on Apologetics: defending the faith in light of today's challenges.
All of the STM majors will have opportunities to engage in internships or practicums that help them apply theoretical learning with practical skills in places similar to where they consider working in their future careers. Many of the majors will have these internships/practicums embedded in the major programs themselves. This is an effort to achieve a goal of praxis—a style of learning that connects theory and practice, which the STM believes is essential for ministries in the future.
"The mission of the School of Theology & Ministry at Lee University," said Cross, "is to equip students for Christian ministry and leadership in the church and world by educating them in biblical and theological fields, providing them skills for the practice of ministry in a complex world, prompting them to become critical thinkers and life-long learners through interaction with philosophy, and engaging them in reading culture and society for the benefit of their communities both local and global. All the changes this summer are meant to make us more effective at achieving this mission."
The school carried the name "School of Religion" for 25 years, beginning with the naming of Lee University in 1997. Prior to that it was named one of Lee College's three divisions, the "Division of Religion."
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