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A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS: SPIRITUAL FORMATION MODELS FOR LEADERS IN PROTESTANT SEMINARIES
Leaders who serve in various ministerial/religious capacities provide a critical service to culture. Individuals currently training to serve in these roles in North America number well over 81,000, with women and people of color being the fastest growing subgroups. The spiritual development of Protestant clergy, which historically took place in an organic synthesis between the family, the church and the academy, has undergone significant changes over the past century, many of which have contributed to a void in clergy spiritual formation. In response to this problem, the Association of Theological Schools, the accrediting agency for seminaries, added spiritual formation as a standard for accreditation in 1992. Little is known however, about how seminaries have sought to comply, or what their models entail. The purpose of this research is to use a grounded theory approach in a cross-case comparison design to explore the spiritual formation models of two seminaries—one, a small, newer institution for which formation has been a central component since its inception, and the other, a large flagship institution that added spiritual formation to an existing curriculum and program after it was mandated for accreditation. The findings could be helpful to the institutions themselves, to the accrediting agency whose research yields only quantitative data, and to seminary leaders who are seeking to implement or further develop their own formational models. Additionally, this study has the indirect potential of improving processes for the spiritual development of clergy, and as a result, positively impacting congregations, the communities in which they function, and society at large.