After years of prayer and dialogue between Indiana Wesleyan University leaders and Wesleyan Church officials, in April 2009 the IWU Board of Trustees voted to create a new seminary to house the new Master of Divinity and existing Master of Arts in Ministry degrees.
The first class of 30 Master of Divinity students started in August 2009. This group joined approximately 170 Master of Arts in Ministry students. Multiple factors converged to turn this dream into a reality.
First, IWU’s parent denomination, The Wesleyan Church, has never had its own official seminary. Currently, 15 percent of Wesleyan ministers are seminary trained. The new Wesley Seminary provides the accessibility and affordability to increase that percentage dramatically.
Second, IWU has a healthy infrastructure that can support this venture. Seminaries typically struggle financially, but IWU possesses the resources to effectively undergird this initiative.
Third, IWU has a proven track record of successfully delivering innovative adult education programs. In a little more than two decades, IWU’s adult education programs have grown to more than 12,000 students. The same accessible, affordable and practical model of education is employed by Wesley Seminary to create a student-centered approach to busy working ministers.
Fourth, there is a growing awareness in the broader seminary world that ministerial education needs to be done in a new 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 seminary. Research also suggests that traditional seminaries are struggling to prepare ministers for practical ministry. The combination of these personal and professional considerations led to the birth of the new Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.