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Newly Endowed Chair in Spiritual Formation is Among the First in Protestant Seminaries

January 14, 2013

In 2010 Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary began seeking funds for the Rueben P. Job Endowed Chair in Spiritual Formation in celebration of the seminary’s first 25 years of leadership in spiritual formation studies and in recognition of Rueben Job’s lifelong commitment to this area. Hundreds of gifts were received, and in December 2012 a generous gift helped the seminary reach its $2 million goal to fund one of the first chairs in spiritual formation among Protestant seminaries.

This endowed chair is named in honor of Garrett-Evangelical’s distinguished alumnus Rueben P. Job, retired bishop of The United Methodist Church. Bishop Job has been at the forefront in spiritual formation within the Church, serving as consultant in Christian spirituality, spiritual retreat leader, spiritual guide, and author or co-author of more than 20 books. The endowed chair will be a lasting legacy to Bishop Job’s lifelong commitment to his field and will ensure that Garrett-Evangelical continues to prepare well-formed spiritual leaders for many generations.

Upon hearing that gifts and commitments for the endowed chair had reached the $2 million goal, Bishop Job said, “Because Christian spirituality has been at the center of my ministry for 60 years, the faithful prayers and actions of many bring great hope and joy to me today and will do so for multitudes in the years to come. My prayers of petition have turned to prayers of thanksgiving.”

Beginning with its first spiritual formation class in 1984, Garrett-Evangelical has long been at the forefront of Protestant seminaries in supporting faculty and developing programs in this area. Under the creative leadership of the academic dean and faculty, Garrett-Evangelical proposed the curriculum structure for United Methodist certification in spiritual formation, which was formally adopted by the denomination in 2000. The seminary has since adopted a specialized master of arts degree in spiritual formation and evangelism, and is uniquely positioned to continue developing and enhancing programs at the certificate, master’s, and doctoral levels.

“The establishment of the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation affirms Garrett- Evangelical’s deep and abiding commitment to nurture spiritual leaders,” said President Philip Amerson. “This faculty position will help ensure that the church has leaders who are not only intellectually prepared to serve God and others, but who are spiritually formed in Christ so God can use them to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

With the recent retirement of Dwight H. Judy, professor emeritus of spiritual formation, a faculty search committee will convene in February 2013, with the expectation that the new faculty member will begin teaching in the fall of 2013. The search committee will seek a qualified candidate who, in addition to teaching, will coordinate the work of the Rueben Job Institute. The Rueben Job Institute will support the spiritual formation of laity and clergy throughout the United States, including America’s small towns and rural areas, through online programs and intensive on-site programs. Funds are now being sought to permanently endow the Rueben Job Institute in Spiritual Formation, with a goal of $1 million.