Advent Hope, Vision for 2020
Hope and Meaning in Loss
This holiday season has special meaning for the Smith family. We have lost a dear parent, and we traveled to Houston before returning home to celebrate the holidays. But we are not “sad.” Rather, we are thankful that our mother and her husband, our step-father, are together again in the arms of Jesus.
I am hoping that my own family will find great meaning in Advent, Christmastide and Epiphany. The fact that God became like us, for our own sake, should — even must — give greater meaning to our short lives. We are loved by God, and in the midst of the travails we endure in our lives, God still loves us, encourages us, and protects us.
Sharpening the Vision
YTI is in the early stages of its capital campaign, and has already seen significant donations to our future “home.” I am thankful for all of our donors, who want to support, and be a part of the vision of Yellowstone Theological Institute.
Theological education is in a state of continuous change. There were discussions at the American Academy of Religion meeting this year that addressed the future for theological education. Several of the issues discussed were: the pronounced decline of church attendance and membership; the expensive tuition costs involved; the increasingly wide chasm between church and academy; the increasing skepticism concerning the ability of the academy (seminary, divinity school) to equip church leaders for a rapidly changing culture; and the increasingly esoteric nature of post-graduate theological education.
In 2020, YTI will be focusing on its capital campaign, community relationships, and a limited offering of courses. As we move forward, we continue to sharpen our vision and mission. This is crucial if, as we contend, theological education is important for everyone and critical for a world in flux. Teaching students and informing community about the importance of faith and the reality of the God who loves us is more important than ever before.
I have enjoyed cultivating a relationship with Rev. Ryan Ward of Montana Bible College, and I look forward to exploring the possibilities of ministry between our two schools. Additionally, Mr. Mike Ingram, a member of our campaign committee, has introduced me to Dr. Darryl DelHousaye, Chancellor of Phoenix Seminary. Dr. DelHousaye is committed to our vision and looks forward to partnerships in the future.
The Promise of 2020
Although 2019 has had its difficulties, 2020 promises to be a banner year. Keep our Board of Directors and Community Advisory Board in your prayers as we move into the new year and the heart of our capital campaign. We are grateful for the continuing support of the Gilhousen Family Foundation, the Leach Family, the Billion family, and the White family of Appling, Ga., and North Augusta, S.C. At YTI, every dollar counts. My hope is that all of you who are reading this newsletter will consider a gift to YTI this year and in the year to come.
Merry Christmas to all!
Dr. Jay Smith, President
Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics