The Wesley Seminary at IWU Story
For many years the leaders of both Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU)
and The Wesleyan Church prayed about launching a seminary that would
maintain high academic standards while also being inexpensive,
accessible and very practical. A seminary was envisioned where courses
were team-taught by theologians and practitioners, which could be
offered online or onsite to bi-vocational adults and where weekly
assignments could be applied directly to the student’s local ministry.
Already IWU was nationally recognized for its multi-site and online
adult education programs with more than 12,000 students enrolled. US
News & World Report called IWU a “top Masters university” and soon
the same accessible, affordable and practical model of education was
used to develop an innovative Master of Arts in Ministry degree with an
enrollment of over 170 students.
Then in April 2009 the IWU Board of Trustees voted to create a new
seminary with a practical and student-centered approach for busy working
ministers. 30 new Master of Divinity students joined 170 students
enrolled in the existing Master of Arts in Ministry degree. The new
seminary was named Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.
There are several factors that have created this remarkably practical,
accessible and fast-growing seminary.
First, the parent denomination of IWU owns one college and five
universities, but has never had an official seminary. With 85 percent of
Wesleyan ministers not possessing a seminary degree, Wesley Seminary
provided both accessibility and affordability.
Secondly, IWU has a healthy and time-tested infrastructure that can
support this endeavor. Many seminaries struggle financially, but IWU
possesses the resources to effectively undergird this initiative.
Thirdly, there is a growing awareness in the seminary world that
ministerial education needs to be done in a new and accessible way. It
is becoming increasingly difficult for ministers and their families to
pick up and move to a seminary for three or four years, followed by
another move upon graduation. The new Wesley Seminary model allows
ministers to stay in their current ministry setting while attending
And finally, research suggests that traditional seminaries are
struggling to prepare ministers for the realities of practical ministry.
By combining team-taught courses of theologians and practitioners with
weekly homework that can applied to one’s local ministry, the new Wesley
Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University has grown to over 400 students.