There is a first time for everything. A report of a declining mainline theological seminary that has turned away from theological liberalism and returned to a high view of scripture and the historic Christian faith.
Not long ago, United Theological Seminary (UTS) in the Dayton, Ohio area was just another declining, has-been mainline seminary, facing ominous financial hardships, dominated by Scripture-demoting theological liberalism, and reflective of so much of what was wrong with its shrinking sponsoring denomination, the United Methodist Church.
Today, the school is a very different place than what many alumni experienced. It is now explicitly committed to a high view of biblical authority, “the historic Christian faith,” “the cultivation of holiness,” and “the renewal of the church.”
Applicants for faculty positions must be explicitly committed “to the historic Christian faith.”
God has clearly been blessing this new direction under the leadership of President Deichmann. A recent headline from the Dayton Daily News summed up the seminary’s new situation: “Rebounding from Crisis, United is Among Fastest-Growing Theological Schools in U.S.” United’s tripling of its enrollment in the last four years, with now over 600 students, along with the rapid expansion of its faculty, is all the more remarkable in light of the decline at other official United Methodist seminaries.
Dr. Deichmann describes the turnaround as “a miracle.” But it is also important to note her own impressive administrative leadership of making tough financial decisions in the face of a budget crisis she inherited, guiding the school through a nearly complete turnover in faculty, and being a clear, articulate voice for the biblical, historic Christianity to which the seminary is now committed.
What's the lesson? It took a crisis and an exceptional leader to turn a declining institution around.
Movements are renewed by making an innovative return to tradition. Well done Wendy Deichmann, you beat the odds.