Sunday, June 26, 2011

An Alternative Seminary in Kansas City

For a while now, I've been thinking about developing a program similar to The Alternative Seminary. I've been fascinated with their Philly program for quite some time, and since the inception of Anavah House I've wanted to do something along these lines.

The gist of it is this: an almost-free course taught by seminary-trained individuals in an informal setting. Each course would be roughly $10-$20 to attend (or whatever anyone can afford to give), which would go to both buying food for the course meetings (yes, there will be meals!) as well as prep materials (handouts, textbooks, etc.). Although there would be no formal degree presented at the end of the course, the seminary would provide an opportunity for laity folks to enjoy the benefits of an in-depth seminary education, and for those who are interested in that kind of thing, it would look really good on a resume. The classes would vary in length, and there would possibly even be homework, depending on the volunteer who is teaching the class.

Some ideas for classes could be:

  • The Word of God in our World: A Year-Long Study of the Hebrew Bible
  • The Way of Jesus For Our World Today: A Year-Long Study of the New Testament
  • The Economy of God: Biblical Economics and Our World
  • The Gospel of Mark: The Radical Way of Jesus
  • The Gospel of Luke: The Reign of God and the Empire of Caesar 
  • Jesus and Empire 
  • Building Community Between Justice-Seeking Christians: Bridging Race and Class Gaps 
  • Christianity, Colonization, and Deconstructing White Supremacy
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: Liberation Prophet
  • Jesus For President
  • Healing the World, Healing Ourselves: Personal Peace Practices
  • Proclaim Jubilee! A Jewish-Christian Study of Biblical Economic Values
  • Reading the Bible into the Lives of Sexual Minorities
  • Women and Scripture
  • Casting Out Demons: Applying Biblical Exorcism Stories to Modern Society
  • The Isaian Vision and Urban Ministry
  • Liberation from Consumerism
  • Biblical Forgiveness and the U.S. Criminal Justice System
  • Liberation Theology in the U.S. Context
(All of these were taken from past classes at the Alternative Seminary in Philly)

I also have a curriculum called The Facilitator's Manual for the Class of Nonviolence, which I've been itching to use for a long time. It has a foreword written by peace activist Colman McCarthy, author of I'd Rather Teach Peace.

On a side note, another idea I've had in the last few years is a weekly event called "Midweek Midrash," which would be a kind-of Bible study. Each week there would be a story--sometimes Biblical, sometimes, say, an anecdote from the Desert Fathers and Mothers, for example--and during our meeting we would begin by praying/eating/singing together, followed by a discussion and interpretation of the story for the week.

Let me know what you think about the alternative seminary idea. I'd love to have some help fleshing it out. I'm hoping to start developing a curriculum soon, as well as find a few qualified folks to help teach. If you have any ideas or know of anyone who would be able to help out, let me know--and don't shy away from it just because you don't live in the KC area;  we will most likely have an online course option, as well.

Grace and peace be with you.


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