Theological education can benefit beyond church walls

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Famous graduates of such schools include the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., says SMU administrator.

By Te Keyshia Johnson

 

Some of the most influential leaders in history got their start in religious education programs, a theology school administrator said Feb. 17 at the United Methodist Student Center’s Hot Potato lecture.

Rev. Herbert S. Coleman, director of recruitment and admissions at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, discussed the benefits of theological education.

Before starting his presentation, he invited the audience to play an ice-breaker game show called “Stop and Recognize.” When he announced the prize was money, audience members started clapping and cheering with smiles on their faces.

There were two rounds to the game show. In both rounds, he showed a PowerPoint with pictures of world leaders who graduated from theological education programs. The first contestant to recognize the person in the picture won $5 for the first round. The second-round winners received $10.

The leaders in Coleman’s game show included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bishop Joel Martinez, who did pastoral appointments in San Antonio, Dallas and El Paso and was enrolled in Perkins School of Theology.

“These leaders are people who have lived and gone out beyond the four walls of a church, campus ministry and chapel,” Coleman said. “There are opportunities in theological education to have it take you in another direction.”

Coleman said Perkins offers master’s and doctorate degrees in ministry, philosophy and theological studies, as well as other degrees.

Although Perkins is a Christian school, he said all students are required to take a world religions course so they will learn and understand every religion, he said.

“Professors will take students to China, Cuba, South Africa, Israel and France to see not only the Christian religion, but also how divisions in general work in different religions around the world,” Coleman said.

Coleman said he was not only speaking to the students at the Hot Potato event, but also the faculty. He said he was speaking to the hearts of those who wanted to become more than just a pastor at a church, but a leader who will go above and beyond.

He said he wanted everyone at the event, including students who are passionate about theological education, to visit the campus at Perkins. He said he could set up tours.

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