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The Business of Religion: Looking Back at a Management Class Within a Seminary

As a practical requirement, some theology students are required to earn 4.5 credits from business school.

Alex Ori

September 9, 2022 12:27 AM

staff reporter

Tim Thai

In 2017, Andover-Newton Theological Seminary was transformed from an isolated vocational school in the suburbs of Boston to an affiliated institution of Yale Theological Seminary. Sarah B. Drummond, ’93, the first dean of her ANS at the Seminary, had guiding questions in mind during the trip.

One answer was found at the Yale School of Business, next door to Theological Seminary. An Andover Newton student is currently required to complete her 4.5 credits at the business school to earn a degree. This makes Andover Newton the first seminary in the country to require all students to take business classes. News spoke with professors and students about this special relationship that began in 2018 and is approaching its fifth anniversary.

“When we were in Newton, we didn’t have SOM,” said Drummond. “But really, no one else has an SOM because our business school is world-renowned for its leadership education across different sectors of the economy. , is not a place to work solely in finance or solely for business.”

Andover Newton focuses on ministry in the local religious community, as opposed to the seminary as a whole, where students seek to enter various fields after graduation. According to Drummond, such roles require extensive knowledge of leadership. Their responsibilities are not only related to a particular religion, but also to salaries, insurance and other business matters.

Drummond, who understands that ministers are leaders and administrators in their own way, believed that requiring students to undergo training at SOM would benefit their education. Others agreed—Drummond consulted alumni and found that the more successful a minister was, the more they supported the requirements of his School of Business.

At the same time, members of the SOM community were looking for new perspectives in their classrooms. A business professor, when Raphael Duguay joined his SOM three years before him, he was tasked with teaching “how to measure social impact” and offered courses to students at other technical schools. wanted to open up

Duguay has taught students at the Yale School of the Environment and Yale Law School, but he said he feels seminary students are “the most unique.” When considering issues, SOM students first concern themselves with ethical business issues, while seminary students focus on the intrinsic morals behind certain decisions, he said. explained.

“[Divinity School students] We do not tend to focus on potential litigation risks or public relations implications for any particular course of action. [business decisions] It’s perceived as bad,” Duguay said. “What they worry about is not what is right, but what happens if they are doing something inherently wrong. There is definitely something strong in

Duguay’s class structure is built around case studies in which students analyze primarily non-profit organizations.

According to Duguay, Andover Newton students bring a special type of empathy to these cases.

“One of the characteristics or qualities these students have is their proximity to the public,” says Duguay. “When we talk about the types of people that nonprofits serve, we are talking about people who are suffering in their lives.YDS students have a good understanding of the needs and realities of these people.”

I’onli Hal DIV ’22 was the senior pastor of his church in North Carolina before coming to seminary. As a student at YDS, Hall, who was naturally interested in business as a student at Andover Newton Seminary, said he “can’t count” how many SOM classes he’s taken.

Hall recognized two different approaches he experienced while taking business classes as a Divinity School student.

“It was definitely a different mindset when you thought about revenue and profitability and knew that was the main driver,” Hall said. “[That,] As opposed to serving God, making the world a better place, loving people well, and dealing with those existential problems. It’s a spiritual change that definitely has to happen. So stepping from one environment to another can be a little uncomfortable. ”

As Executive Pastor, Hall was involved in financial administration, logistics, and management of the Church’s business.

After completing the requirements, Hall said the SOM course helped him think more critically about how ministry works and question assumptions.

“I often think we separate spirituality from different aspects of life,” Hall said. “I think spirituality is part of life. Spirituality tells us how to live. , can inform how we make decisions, no matter what the job.”

Andover Newton Theological Seminary at Yale Theological Seminary was established in 2017.

Alex Ori

Alex is in charge of campus politics. She is a freshman at Trumbull University majoring in English.