Second Theological Education Colloquy Looks at Changing NBTS
In our second Understanding Theological Education in the RCA colloquy, reflecting on what theological education has been in the RCA and what it could be, we look inward, at this, the oldest Protestant theological seminary in North America. Forty-five years ago, NBTS had a mostly white, almost exclusively male student body, with a white, male faculty. Thirty-five years ago, it was still a majority white school, and the main educational program occurring during bankers’ hours. Twenty-five years ago, it was still a school that taught RCA ministers and welcomed people from other traditions. Today, the vast majority of students are people of color, most classes meet at night or on weekends, and the RCA is a minority denominational group among students studying in several different programs.
New Brunswick Theological Seminary has been on the growing edge of theological education ever since its founding in 1784. Life on the growing edge comes with challenges, even though those challenges may change from time to time. The theme for our colloquy on October 20 at 12:00 noon will be Changing Challenges at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. We will begin with presentations by two former presidents of NBTS and one former dean, and spend the rest of the hour in questions and discussion.
Robert A. White served as NBTS President, 1985-92. Prior to that he served Reformed churches in Clover Hill, New Jersey, and North Syracuse, New York. In 1980, he was appointed RCA Minister for Social Witness, directing denominational programs in peacemaking, US-Soviet church relations and global justice. He was called to be Senior Minister of the First Reformed Church of Schenectady, NY in 1992 and designated Minister Emeritus in 2006. He then served as Interfaith Chaplain at Bethesda House of Schenectady, an inner-city ministry to the homeless and working poor, and as Interim Executive Director of the NY State Council of Churches. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary who pursued graduate studies at Union Seminary in New York, Columbia University, and Rutgers University, Dr. White and his wife JoAnne now enjoy retirement in a log cabin on Peck Lake in the southern Adirondack Mountains of New York.
A native of South Holland, Illinois, Norman Kansfield, president of NBTS from 1993 to 2005, holds degrees from Hope College, Western Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary in New York, and the University of Chicago. Norm began his ministry within the RCA in Astoria, Queens, New York, and continued in the Chicago suburbs of Berwyn and Riverdale, Illinois. He was the seminary librarian and a faculty member at Western Theological Seminary and at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary and St. Bernard’s Institute in Rochester, New York, before coming to NBTS. Since 2005, he has served first as Senior Scholar in Residence at the Theological School of Drew University and currently as Theologian for the Zion United Church of Christ in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Mary Klein Kansfield, live in East Stroudsburg,
Renée House is the Minister of the Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York where she has served since March of 2013. Prior to accepting the call to Old Dutch, she served on the faculty of NBTS for twenty-five years as Director of the Library, Academic Dean, and Professor of Practical Theology, and as a General Synod Professor of Theology. Renée received her M.L.S. from the University of Arizona, M.Div. from NBTS, and Ph. D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. As a minister in the RCA, she has been engaged in ministry throughout the U.S. as well as Taiwan. She is a writer, poet, singer, wife, step-mom, and grandmother to six rambunctious kids.
There will be three more programs in this series during 2020-21: