Seabury-Western Theological Seminary’s board has voted to suspend all admissions of students to the Episcopal Church seminary in Evanston while it seeks a new direction for the school.
The decision came at a board meeting last week.
The trustees directed the school’s dean to form a planning committee charged with developing a new direction for the school in time for the board’s April meeting.
A statement posted on the 150-year-old seminary’s web site said "the stand-alone residential model" for seminary education "is becoming unsustainable" for most church institutions and "has resulted in an unprecedented level of student debt."
"We believe that the church does not need Seabury in its present form," the statement says, but adds that "the church very much needs a seminary animated by and organized around a new vision of theological education."
The statement says the school will enable all doctoral students to complete their programs and assist masters and certificate students "to find alternative arrangements" to complete their programs.
Episcopal Life Online reports that the church’s 11 seminaries educate less than half the people ordained as Episcopal priests and that the seminaries have very few official ties to the church, which does not provide them financial support.