WFU Divinity School to add denominational studies emphasis

The Divinity School at Wake Forest University has created a denominational studies emphasis to begin in the spring 2001 term. While the school will continue to offer studies in a variety of denominational traditions, specific programs for Baptist and Presbyterian students will be initiated this spring.

Now in its second year, the Divinity School has 47 full-time students from 11 different denominational backgrounds. Half of the students are from congregations related to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the American Baptist Churches (U.S.A.), American Baptist Churches of the South, the National Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. Of the remaining students, nine are Presbyterians.

The Baptist and Presbyterian studies programs are designed to help students prepare for ordination in their denomination, said Jill Crainshaw, director of vocational development for the Divinity School and a Presbyterian clergy member. The Baptist students will focus on Baptist history, theology, ministry and evangelism.

Bill Leonard, dean of the Divinity School and professor of church history, said the program will encourage Baptist students to examine their roots and the diversity within the faith.

An advisory board of Baptist clergy and lay leaders will provide assistance with professional formation and placement upon the students’ graduation.

The Presbyterian program will use guidelines from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to help students prepare for ordination. An advisory board of Presbyterian clergy and lay leaders will also assist the students.

Courses in this emphasis will include, “The Sacraments and Congregational Life,” “Reformed History and Theology” and “Presbyterian Polity.”

Leonard said the Divinity School will also enlist advisors to help Methodist, Moravian and Lutheran students with professional development and placement upon graduation.

The Divinity School at Wake Forest began its second year this fall. The new class has 28 full-time students. Fourteen students are men and 14 are women. There were 24 people in the founding class – five men and 19 women. The Divinity School was the first in the nation to open without an official denominational tie.

The school offers the master of divinity degree, a 90-credit hour program that offers academic and professional preparation for ministry. The school also offers annual vocational development programs for clergy and laity that address contemporary trends in theology, ministry and spirituality.

Categories: School of Divinity