Austin Seminary opened an extraordinary academic year with an online Convocation Service at 11:10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 8, followed by a remote Opening Worship Service at 7:00 p.m. Extraordinarily, fifty-eight new master’s-level students have followed God’s call upon their hearts amidst a global pandemic, beginning their journey toward Christian leadership at Austin Seminary. Two students will earn the Master of Arts (Theological Studies) degree; nineteen, the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree; and thirty-seven, the Master of Arts in Youth Ministry (MAYM) degree. Five MDiv students are enrolled in the MDiv/MSSW dual degree program with the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. Due to travel restrictions, the Seminary was unable to enroll any Global Partners this year.
The majority of students are from Texas, though twelve states and Puerto Rico are represented in this class. Many students in the MAYM program are from the southeast United States due, in part, to the Seminary’s partnership with the Center for Youth Ministry Training, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. The median age of the incoming class is twenty-seven (the youngest student is 21 and the oldest is 79); 30% are persons of color, and 65% are single.
Melissa Wiginton, Vice President for Education Beyond the Walls and Research Professor in Methodist Studies, delivered the Convocation Address, “Goodbye Rushmore. Hello Beautiful.” President Wardlaw’s sermon, “Threshold,” was part of the service welcoming new and returning students and staff. The service is also an opportunity for new students to publicly avow to live faithfully in community, a tradition that goes back to the founding of the institution in 1902.