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Where Faith Leads

Gary Peluso-VerdendDear Supporters,

 >WHERE FAITH LEADS.  Like many folks who love words, I enjoy phrases that can be read in two or more meaningful and truthful ways. So when the consultants we hired suggested the tagline “Where faith leads,” I was hooked. I could see the possibilities.

  • Faith leads students here.

Phillips Theological Seminary is a destination point for students.  We are a significant stopping point on their journey. Faith-building experiences of church school, baptism preparation or confirmation classes, youth groups, camps, campus ministries, and college religion classes lead some students to seminary. For others, it is life crises, the beginning or ending of a relationship, a change of jobs, a profound loss that evoked a season of discernment, and faith led them to Phillips. Your gifts ensure Phillips will be here for future sojourners.

  • Phillips is also a place where faith leads, where faith comes first.

Now, that claim might surprise some people! I heard from concerned skeptics when I entered seminary, and our entering students still hear, “Don’t let them [The Seminary] take your faith away!” Well, no human being has the power to take another’s faith away. Faith is an expression of trust. More particularly, Christian religious faith is trust in God as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We, the seminary’s faculty, can neither give nor take faith. What we can do, and what we do, is provide a curriculum built on investigating fundamental questions about the faith we claim, about the content of who and what we claim, about the content of who and what we trust:

  • What does it mean to love God and your neighbors as ourselves?
  • Who was and is Jesus, and what does he have to do with me/with us?
  • What is the nature and purpose of the church?
  • What is the history we must understand in order to appreciate our traditions, critique them, and also to live faithfully in “such a time as this”?

In other words, your gifts provide faculty members who invite students into a profound conversation, to think about their faith. When I was in college, I heard a famous activist tell about the day he came home from school and his father was cutting the lawn. His father stopped the mower’s engine, looked up at him, and said, “Well, Son. What did you do in school today? Believe or think?” At Phillips, faith leads us to think about the faith!

  • "Where faith leads” means something more.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” the author of Hebrews taught to his troubled community. Being led by faith often means going without a map, into uncharted territory. Being led to where faith leads can be scary, exciting, dangerous, thrilling, disappointing, confusing, and amazingly fulfilling. It’s people like you, who provide gifts and offer prayers that make this journey into the uncharted territory of faithfulness possible.  Certainly, our students and graduates attest frequently to the kind of journey in which faith has led. Over the years, I’ve heard these types of witnesses:

 “I heard a call when I was a child, but I was told women can’t be ministers. While I took another path for decades, the call never went away. My company was bought by another, I was out of a job, and the silenced call was voiced again. And today, it is clear women can be ministers!” 

“One of my earliest memories is setting a table, pouring juice, setting out cookies, and inviting my siblings to communion. I always knew I was supposed to be a pastor.” 

 “I came to seminary after being out of school for decades. Coming back into an academic environment was scary. But dealing with faith issues, really dealing with them and going to the roots of what I believe and why, and what Christianity should be and why, has been both one of the most scary and exhilarating experiences of my life.” 

  • The seminary is also journeying by faith.

Sure, we have a strategic plan, goals, metrics, and other guidelines. But we also know the church in North America is going through profound transitions and transformations. Some forms of church are struggling, some are dying. Some are being transformed, and some are being born. Today is a full-of-worthy-challenges time. No one is able to see very far into the future. At Phillips, the plan sets a compass direction. Through everything from offering courses online and on campus to becoming more deeply involved in justice work in our home state and city, we are expressing our deep desire to be available to God for God’s work in the world.

This year, we need to raise a total of $705,000 in gifts. Phillips is blessed with a strong financial base, something we could not always say! These long term investments now fund about 55 percent of our budget. That means we must raise the other 45 percent annually, primarily through tuition from students and gifts from supporters like you.

Will you consider giving to Phillips, to support the faith-leading work we do, for and with our students? We can’t do the work entrusted to us without supporters like you.

Please take a step in the faith journey with us through your gift of dollars—an essential component of a graduate theological education. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.




Gary Peluso-Verdend
President and Associate Professor of Practical Theology

P.S.  Faith is a journey for the Seminary, for the students, and for YOU, our supporters.  Is Faith Leading YOU to support seminary education?  Make a gift today to support the important work God has called Phillips to do.

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Phillips Theological Seminary offers Christian graduate theological education
in service of intelligent, just, and compassionate religious and civic communities. We welcome
students to a safe space for truth-seeking conversations about the Bible, Jesus, and faithful living.
Courses available on campus and online for certificate, diploma, MDiv, MAMC, MASJ, & MTS
programs, and on campus for the DMin program.

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