Harding School of Theology (HST) is celebrating 60 years of ministry training in Memphis this year, and what a difference the decades make. There was a time when ministry preparation included moving to or near a seminary campus and spending three or more years in graduate studies. Many students worked in churches in the city or the surrounding area. Some drove three hours or more to get to class each week. Being in the classroom together provided opportunities for deep mentoring by professors and deep relationships among the students.

Fast forward a few decades and students are scattered to the four winds. Online programs are a must if students are to be enrolled, but not all online programs are created equal. Mentoring and networking has changed with the times.

HST began offering online classes in 1998, and for close to twenty years, that meant reading books and articles, watching videos of lectures, and posting in threaded discussions. These classes filled a need, but a lot of the iron-sharpening-iron, the live discussion feeding off one another, was missing. With HST LIVE, our online students are now interacting with classmates and professors in real time. Online students go to class on their computer with students on our physical campus in Memphis for a live classroom experience. The professors teach live, and all students are expected to come to class prepared to engage in classroom discussion and learning. Online students are able to ask questions, answer questions, and take classroom leadership alongside students in the physical classroom.

One of the students who made the transition from the original format for online classes at HST to HST LIVE had this to say about the new format,

I started working on my MDiv before the days of HST Live. Since I live over two hours from campus, I was waking up before 5am to make it to my 8am class on the day of the week my class met. Then, when I finished my second class of the day at almost 4pm, it was another 2 plus hours before I could be home with my family. HST Live has allowed me to get better rest the night before my class and spend more time with my family. This class format has been a tremendous blessing to me and my family. – Matthew L.

Another student, Justin S. was excited about the added flexibility this gave him to pursue his degree with the changing demands and locations of his ministry,

HST Live allowed me to move to Buenos Aires a year before graduating to complete my MDiv. Having a year of overlap between my formal studies and my ministry here in Argentina was a tremendous blessing as it enabled me to feel part of the HST community through a challenging life transition. I continue to connect occasionally to HST through the LIVE format and it’s always encouraging to feel supported by the community that played such a crucial role in my development as a minister and as a person. – Justin S.

This is important because at HST, students are wrestling with difficult topics. Whether it is particular Bible passages, theological concepts, or church practices, HST students are exposed to the most important scholarship in the field from a wide range of perspectives. The classroom is a supportive environment that helps students navigate these new ideas and ways of thinking to reach healthy conclusions. Being able to do that in real time makes a world of difference.

It also blesses the students here in Memphis to be able to interact with students across the country and around the globe. Students have participated from Albania, China, India, Peru, and the US Virgin Islands. This network of friends in ministry lasts a lifetime.

HST professors have a well-deserved reputation for their personal concern for our students. Whether it is tutoring in a language or ministry wisdom over lunch or a cup of coffee, our faculty invest in students outside the classroom. With HST LIVE, professors are able to meet face-to-face with students around the world for times of mentoring and encouragement.

Top-notch scholarship. Peer network of ministers. Professors who personally invest in you. From anywhere in the world. Master’s degrees in Bible, ministry, and theology with minimal residency requirements.  If this sounds right for you, please get in touch with Matt Carter at mrcarter@hst.edu | (901) 432-7744 (voice) | (901) 300-3995 (text)