SSW’s robust scholarships and new curriculum with Beloved Community focus main topics of conversation at GC81

Seminary of the Southwest
Posted Jun 24, 2024

While it is the replica Seminary Cross that traveled from Austin to Louisville that has drawn many visitors to the Seminary of the Southwest booth at General Convention, two meaningful topics have dominated discussion:

  • the robust scholarships Southwest offers through the Pastoral Leadership Initiative
  • the newly revised MDiv curriculum that creates an intentional formational space to work toward building Beloved Community.

The Pastoral Leadership Initiative was established in partnership with the Episcopal Foundation of Texas in 2022. This transformational funding expands on the long-established full-tuition grants for students preparing for ordained ministry and allows Southwest to provide meaningful cost-of-living support to seminarians pursuing their Master of Divinity or Diploma in Anglican Studies at Seminary of the Southwest. These funds assist students by financially subsidizing rent, books, and other costs associated with attending a residential seminary.

Of note, and unique to Southwest, is that this scholarship initiative also covers health insurance and childcare for students and their families while they attend seminary. One primary goal of the initiative is to have students graduate debt-free.

Also of great interest is the news that in the fall of 2023, Seminary of the Southwest unveiled a new Master of Divinity curriculum meant to respond to the shifting needs of the church. The highlights include the addition of a case-based and team-taught ‘Seminar in Applied Theology’ that meets weekly for all three years; a new sequencing of courses that allows for more content overlap and team teaching; a deeper integration of theory, practice, and pastoral identity; and a cross-curricular commitment to preparing students to build beloved community.

“The preparation for this moment began in 2020, when the faculty decided it was time to rethink our curriculum from the ground up to be sure that we were preparing students for the church and the world they would enter as ministers upon graduation,” said Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, dean and president-elect.  “How could we ensure that they would have the formation they needed for the particular challenges of this moment? How could we continue to form students in the rich resources of the Christian tradition with an eye to the particular ways the church’s identity needs to be embodied and enacted in this time and place?”

Dr. Bader-Saye has served as Academic Dean for the past 11 years and led the efforts to revise the curriculum. Over this time, Dr. Bader-Saye has also led the hiring of 13 faculty members, of whom nine are women, eight identify as people of color, and three identify as LGBTQ.

“Providing comprehensive financial support and responsive formational opportunities for students at Seminary of the Southwest addresses the need for strong ordained leaders for the church of the future,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, current dean and president. “When they come to Austin to be formed for leadership in this community, they will face less economic pressure during their studies and in their first years of ministry. We are excited to offer this significant financial support and forward-thinking curriculum to those who are called to study with this dynamic faculty in Southwest’s distinctive programs.”

Stop by the Seminary of the Southwest booth to learn more about how we are forming priests in a residential environment to be fully prepared for service in a changing church and a changing world, without the burdens of debt from taking this important journey.

If you are at General Convention and want to join the discussion, just look for the Seminary Cross in the exhibit hall near the main entrance – you can’t miss it! (or visit ssw.edu to learn more.)


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