The Episcopal bishops of Kansas, Nebraska, West Missouri and Western Kansas are teaming up to create a new School for Ministry to educate lay ministers, deacons and bi-vocational (part-time or non-stipendiary) priests. The four bishops issued the following announcement today:
It is with great pleasure that we jointly announce the creation of the Bishop Kemper School for Ministry, which will provide theological education to lay people and those seeking ordination from all of our dioceses.
The school is a new, non-profit corporation that will be operated jointly by our four dioceses. Each will make yearly financial contributions to its work, and the bishops and representatives from each of our dioceses will be members of the school’s Board of Directors, which will be responsible for overseeing the life of the school, and the work of the dean and faculty.
The school honors Bishop Jackson Kemper, the first Missionary Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who was the organizing bishop when each of our dioceses was founded. He also was committed to the value of local theological education for the growth and health of the Episcopal Church, so it is only fitting that this new endeavor bears his name.
The school will be headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, and the property will continue to be owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. The cost of operating the school will be shared by all four dioceses.
We also are delighted that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be in Topeka Oct. 5 to help celebrate our new joint venture. More details about the schedule for her visit will be available soon.
This new corporation legally results from the merger of the existing formation initiatives operated by our four dioceses. It will continue the commitment of those programs to the highest level of preparation for people seeking ordination, lay people engaged in licensed and specialized ministries, lay and clergy continuing education, and general education and enrichment courses for all members of our dioceses.
Members of our four dioceses already have been studying together at the school of the Diocese of Kansas, and we have seen firsthand the great benefit of having people engage in rigorous theological education in an environment of collegiality among people from different dioceses. The Bishop Kemper School will continue and enhance those opportunities.
Our four dioceses, while unique and distinct, share many common traits, including the need to provide quality leadership for small congregations in rural settings. The continuing vitality and viability of many of our congregations requires that we undertake new and innovative ways of creating leaders for the 21st century. The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry is one of these.
We ask for your prayers for the success of this new venture and for all those who will study there. May God greatly bless this effort to share the Good News of God in Christ with a world hungry to hear the message of love, hope and redemption.
Dean E. Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas
J. Scott Barker, Bishop of Nebraska
Martin S. Field, Bishop of West Missouri
Michael P. Milliken, Bishop of Western Kansas
The new school will not offer a three-year MDiv degree, according to Melodie Woerman, director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.