“When we bring what is within out to the world, miracles happen.” ~Thoreau
The New Seminary (TNS), founded in 1979, is the oldest interfaith seminary in the world. We were founded to address the abiding religious intolerance and lack of understanding or unwillingness to understand the faith and cultural traditions of others at that time. This mission is very much relevant today as it was over 30 years ago. Our founders also saw the need for an institution to provide a nurturing environment for students to not only learn about the faith traditions of the world, but also where their individual spiritual inquiry, growth and practice were paramount as well.
Since our inception, we have ordained close to 3,000 interfaith ministers from all over the United States and world. You will find our graduates working as chaplains, ministering to congregations of all faith traditions, teaching and simply effecting change and working to transform our society to a global community of tolerance. They are making a difference.
Our ministerial, graduate degree programs and interfaith approach are designed to train professional ministers to better understand the various faith traditions of the world and to meet the spiritual needs of a globally diverse and mobile population, where groups from many cultural and faith traditions now have learn to live together free of fear, judgment and harm. It is through understanding the faith and cultural traditions of others that we learn to acknowledge our common values of compassion, love, peace, understanding and tolerance. These values are the cornerstones of community building. It is a TNS core principle that religion and faith should build community and not divide it.
TNS has four primary programs. The Two-Year Ministerial Program and The Accelerated Ministerial Program are our oldest offerings. The difference between the two is that the accelerated program is a one-year program, where you complete two years worth of study in one year.
The first year of the two-year program is focused on a survey of world religions. This involves studying and immersing oneself in a different faith tradition each month. You will be required to visit temples, mosques, churches, and write papers about your experiences. There will also be seminars and online discussions about the various faith traditions. In addition, you will have various texts to read that will help you to reflect upon and deepen your spiritual inquiry and practice. Papers are due each month based on the assigned texts.
The second year is focused on professional ministry. This is where students further develop and strengthen their Pastoral Formation and Leadership. Second Year Students also learn more Comparative Theology, Homiletics, aspects of death and dying, community ministry, Interfaith Dialogue, Eastern and Western Inner Traditions, Interfaith Research Methodology and The Theology of Poverty. Ritual is a major part of this year and students are taught how to conduct marriage ceremonies, baby blessings, house blessings, funerals and memorials. Both programs require service projects and a year-end retreat.
Second Year Students also have the option of participating in a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). A “Unit” is a 13-week program requiring weekly seminars and didactics, as well as volunteer service with a hospital, hospice, or agency. Upon completion of this basic unit, you will be eligible for employment as a chaplain with various organizations. CPE can be done while you participate in our other programs.
The other two programs, our Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and Master of Theology (M.Th.) offerings are new and part of our goal to provide more credibility and a higher level of preparation and training for Interfaith Ministers.
WHY WE ARE DIFFERENT
Besides our ministerial programs and Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry Programs which are unique among Interfaith Seminaries, three other major factors distinguish TNS from other interfaith seminaries. First, we are proud that we have one of the founding fathers of The New Seminary and the Modern Interfaith Approach, Father Giles Spoonhour, still with us and actively engaged on our Board of Directors, teaching, and curriculum development. This is a major factor to consider if you are looking to enroll in an interfaith seminary. His wisdom and guidance are critical to our commitment to remain true to the initial mission of The New Seminary as we carry our interfaith approach and message into 21st Century with its unique challenges.
Second, TNS works hard to manifest the change it would like to see in the world. One of the major ways we accomplish this is through our unique status among interfaith seminaries with the United Nations. Since 2003, TNS has been a Non-Government Organization (NGO) in Special Consultation with The United Nations. It is through our NGO that we advance our interfaith approach and message on a community and global level. We are proud of this work and the fact that we can offer our students the opportunity to work on programs that we initiate at the UN and with other NGOs as well.
Third, TNS has a unique focus on ‘SPIRITUAL ACTIVISM’. We recognize that to be a minister in the 21st Century, you have to be prepared to face the major challenges confronting society at this time. In our ministerial and degree programs we have a heavy focus on how to meet the challenges presented by an evolving form of global intolerance, poverty and unprecedented challenges to the ecology.
“When we have knowledge, space grants us unbounded opportunity, and time presents us with infinite possibilities for change.” ~Manjurshri