Christian Theological Seminary President Edward Wheeler will retire next June 30 but continue in an advisory role as the school begins to develop new educational approaches.
CTS received a $1.18 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for program development and to assist in the leadership transition.
“The changing demographics of congregational life, the increasing complexity of pastoral ministry, and the emergence of new technologies are changing theological education,” Board of Trustees Chairman David Herzog said. “Lilly Endowment’s gift to CTS will enable us to build upon our current capabilities and explore new strategies to address these realities.”
Most of the grant, $1 million, will serve as the lead gift for the “CTS Fund for the Future.” CTS has not determined how much it will try to raise for the fund.
“Our charge is to engage in a serious rethinking of what it takes to prepare men and women to be excellent pastors of congregations in a rapidly changing ecclesial and cultural environment,” Herzog said. “This will require us to collaborate in new ways with congregations to attract the most promising students to produce pastors, ministers and counselors with the skills required to address new and yet unknown challenges.”
The remaining $181,000 will cover the search for Wheeler’s replacement and other transition-related expenses. Wheeler, president for the past 14 years, announced his intention to retire in 2012 earlier this year. CTS plans to have a new president in place by July 1. Under the plan, Wheeler will be named president emeritus on June 30 and spend his final year as an adviser to the new executive.
CTS is an affiliate of the Disciples of Christ church, but its students and alumni represent 40 denominations and faith communities. The seminary offers eight graduate-level programs, plus continuing education and counseling services.