Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
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Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR)
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR) was formed in 1991 in celebration of historic Baptist values, as Baptist life in the South moved sharply toward a narrow theological perspective. Consequently, historic Baptist freedom is a hallmark of BTSR: freedom to question, freedom to discover, freedom to learn, and freedom to serve in Jesus’ name.
BTSR’s unique ethos finds expression in several ways. Excellence in ministry and academics are core values at BTSR. As a seminary we seek to create a tapestry where both academic and ministry threads are distinct, yet where they cooperatively enliven the training of women and men for ministry.
A towel and basin is at the heart of the seminary. Taking our cue from Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13), we strive to grow servant leaders. On the night before graduation, each BTSR graduate receives a servant’s towel with his or her name on it. All graduates are then commissioned to serve in Jesus’ name.
The curriculum at BTSR includes three basic areas of emphasis that are integral to the preparation of every student, regardless of his or her specific ministry interest.
Academic preparation for ministry is a central reason for the existence of a theological seminary. Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond stresses that academic preparation must be accompanied by attention to spiritual formation. Theological education is not only to be addressed to the mind, it should also address matters of the heart. To this end all entering students are required to take courses that introduce them to spirituality and the spiritual disciplines, especially prayer, and which aid them in cultivating both private and corporate means for spiritual development. Subsequently, they must also take a course that helps them develop skills for helping those to whom they minister by strengthening their own spiritual lives. In addition to providing courses in spirituality the seminary community worships and prays together weekly during regular academic terms. Opportunities are also available for special workshops and periodic retreats to help students in their spiritual formation and to facilitate their developing spiritual resources necessary for effective practice of ministry.
Global Mission Immersion 
Recognizing that the church has become global in its composition, the seminary seeks to help students broaden their vision to attain a global perspective. Students are required to complete at least one course involving work in a cross-cultural mission setting where they are immersed in a culture different from their own. Courses designed to immerse students in the global issues confronting the church are planned for the second year of the M.Div. and M.C.M. curriculum.
BTSR’s Mission Immersion Experience (MIE) is a significant, life changing, required component of the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Master in Christian Ministry (M.C.M.) degree programs. We know of no other seminary that requires such an experience – BTSR does so because we believe strongly that God is at work throughout the world and in all cultures. We have much to learn from each other.
BTSR’s intention is to enhance students’ global view of the Church during their formative years for Christian ministry and to strengthen their cross-cultural perspectives. Students are well-prepared, taught to understand and interpret their experiences and trained to develop skills and perceptions that will shape their future ministries and leadership roles in the world.
The MIE program goals are:
- To experience the shared love of God in settings new to the student
- To gain a better understanding and appreciation for different people and their culture
- To have opportunities to share one’s faith and to exhibit a servant attitude
- To make discoveries about one’s identity through encounters with persons of another culture
- To interact with professionals and church leaders in an effort to engage in dialogue, noting points of intersection and mutual learning
- To develop experience, leadership skills, and principles for future ministry
The MIE Program has visited South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Argentina, Malaysia, Costa Rica, China, and many other countries.
Congregationally-focused Theological Education 
BTSR emphasizes theological education that is focused on ministry within a congregation or other community of faith. The curriculum is designed to bring students into close contact with congregations and faith-based ministries throughout their academic careers. For most students this will mean a local congregation. For those preparing for other ministries, such as chaplaincy or social ministry, a different form of community of faith will be their “congregation.” This congregational emphasis is borne out in three ways: First, the curriculum of the seminary is so designed that each course is meant to relate in some fashion to the life of the church. All that is taught is in dialogue with the congregation or community of faith. The needs of the church become the focus of teaching as ministerial students are introduced not only to the best scholarship but also to the life of congregations. Second, a focus on congregations means that laity is invited to participate in the student’s field-based experience to help guide, evaluate, critique, and train the student. Lay persons draw on their areas of expertise and their own faith journeys in guiding students as they serve as liaisons between the student and the ministry setting. Third, a focus on congregations means that the faculty is committed to sharing the resources of the seminary with local churches and other communities of faith. In all that it does, BTSR equips ministers to lead the congregations and ministries of the church in the twenty-first century. Giving ministers a thorough acquaintance with church life and knowledge of the skills of congregational leadership are central to the seminary’s task.
The purpose of the seminary is to provide advanced theological education and training for effective leadership in the various ministries of the church for those men and women who are called and committed to Christian ministry.
As a community of learners committed to God as revealed in Jesus Christ, the seminary is dedicated to the following principles:
1. The seminary seeks to maintain excellence in scholarship and to provide for and encourage the spiritual growth of its faculty, staff, students, and constituents;
2. The seminary stresses classical theological disciplines and pursues new avenues of education, encouraging practical application and hands-on practice in ministry;
3. The seminary is distinctively Baptist in terms of heritage with an ecumenical commitment, a global perspective, and participation in the world-wide Christian mission;
4. The seminary is committed to gender and racial inclusion, and, in the development of faculty and staff, pledges to seek to achieve balance in gender and race.
Revision adopted unanimously October 2000 BTSR Board of Trustees
The seminary’s trustees, faculty, staff and students are joined in covenant to seven convictions:
1. The freedom of the individual, led by God’s Spirit within the family of faith, to read and interpret the Scriptures, relying on the historical understanding of the church and on the best methods of modern biblical study;
2. The freedom of the local church, under the authority of Jesus Christ, to shape its own life and mission, call its own leadership, and ordain whom it perceives as gifted for ministry, male or female;
3. The larger body of Jesus Christ, expressed in various Christian traditions, and to a cooperation with believers everywhere in giving full expression to the gospel;
4. The servant role of leadership within the church, following the model of our Servant Lord, and to full partnership of all of God’s people in mission and ministry;
5. Theological education in congregations, colleges, and seminaries characterized by reverence for biblical authority and respect for open inquiry and responsible scholarship;
6. The proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and the calling of God to all peoples to repentance and faith, reconciliation and hope, social and economic justice;
7. The principle of a free church in a free state and to the opposition to any effort either by church or state to use the other for its own purposes.
At BTSR, our mission is to prepare ministry leaders for the twenty-first century. We pursue our goal by providing advanced theological education through six programs of study. Students are able to take classes in one of three primary tracks. Each track provides a student with a smooth pathway to complete a BTSR degree.
* Traditional Day Classes
* Online Classes
* Evening and Weekend Classes
|Master of Divinity
An academic professional degree offering concentrations in: Biblical Interpretation, Christian Education, Youth & Student Ministries, and Justice & Peace Building (students have the option of not choosing a concentration). These different concentrations are all built on the same foundation of theological education that focuses on spiritual formation, global engagement and preparation for ministry.
|Doctor of Ministry
A program designed for busy ministers. The program utilizes Bowen Family Systems theory to provide a contextual leadership focus. Core seminars begin online and culminate with a one-week residential intensive twice a year. Elective courses can be taken on campus, online, or as independent studies.
BTSR partners with Virginia Commonwealth University, and is a member of the Richmond Theological Consortium. Through these partnerships, we are able to offer dual-degree programs. By enrolling as a dual-degree student, BTSR students can work towards there MDiv. as well as pursuing either a Master of Social Work or a Master of Science in Patient Counseling. For students that are more sure of their calling, these programs offer a great opportunity to focus their course of study in a practical way.
|Master of Theological Studies
A degree program intended for students preparing for teaching or theological research, preparation for non-ordained ministry, or those interested in their own general education. This degree program provides exposure to a broad range of theological disciplines, including Christian history, ethics, biblical studies, theology, along with cultural and social concerns.
|Master in Christian Ministry
A professional-academic degree program designed to prepare women and men for competent leadership in specialized ministries in their faith communities. This program provides students with practical ministry training shaped by a firm grounding in rigorous theological studies. It is designed to meet the need for ministerial leadership training for the wide range of possibilities for 21st century ministry settings.
|Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies
For persons who seek basic theological training to enhance their participation in their congregation or profession. The certificate can also serve as a gateway to formal application to a degree program for those exploring their calling or who desire to begin formal theological studies but are not ready to commit to a program of study.
Ready to begin your admissions application or financial aid process to BTSR?
In Admissions We will walk with you each step of the way.
- We will help you choose the appropriate program to prepare you to live out your calling in ministry
- We will guide you as you research your seminary options and apply for the degree program you desire
- We will affirm and support you as your calling continues to unfold before you
- We will introduce you to BTSR Student Services (housing, referrals, financial aid) to further communicate what BTSR has to offer you
For more help with Admissions, Skype with us!
In Financial Aid We are happy to help advise you on how to pay for your graduate education.
- We will meet with you personally to educate you on the different financial aid options
- We will provide you with scholarship, grant, loan application opportunities
- We will conveniently gather your scholarships, grants and educational loans prior to school beginning
- We will make every effort to help reduce the cost of your education
God bless you in your time of discernment!
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