Troubles in Academia

In a terse statement, it was announced that the 18 month long discussion about merging Starr King and Meadeville-Lombard have come to naught.

Both of these schools are in financial trouble.

Over 60% of our new UU ministers are preparing at other theological schools.

I am not sure that I can tell what the essential task of Unitarian Universalist scholarship is now.

The UUA gives about a quarter million dollars each year to each of these two schools, making it, and consequently, all of us rank and file UU's, stakeholders in this situation.

Elementary principles of good management suggest that it is folly to keep investing in organizational structures that are not succeeding. It seems like this is a good time to take out the proverbial blank sheet of paper and start thinking afresh about how to best spend a half-million dollars a year for the purpose of educating our future religious leaders.

Lee Barker, President of Meadville-Lombard has since sent out the following message.

Meadville Lombard continues to believe in a vision for Unitarian Universalism in which a greater number of our ministerial students, active ministers and laypeople receive the benefit of a Unitarian Universalist theological education. To further this vision, the ML Board has begun to outline a plan that will allow our School to
provide our education to a greater, more diverse number of learners, both in Chicago and beyond.

Give him credit for seeing an opportunity when one presents its


  1. One of the toughest, most competitive places to be religiously nowadays I think has got to be in denominational affiliated seminary work. The canary in the cave.

    As Barna points out in his recent book Revolution (posting on it now at, just as the next 25 years sees people moving away from the local church to receive and give spiritual life, so it seems inevitable that local churches and religious groups will continue to move away from seminaries to produce their leaders, at least nothing like in the past.

    It does present opportunities, though, for seminaries to decentralize and dechurchify. As Barna would say, will they find their life in service to "churches" primarily or "Church/Kingdom" primarily?

    All kinds of congregational heresies might abound!


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