‘The 30-Minute Seminary’ Introduces Cable Audience to Theological Education

In an effort to pull back the veil on theological education, McAfee School of Theology this month debuts “The 30-Minute Seminary,” a series of 14 programs to be broadcast to more than one million homes in the metro-Atlanta area on Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting, beginning Jan. 28.

Featuring professors from the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, the educational series has many goals, including giving viewers a glimpse of the school and formal, systematic theological education and providing a church resource for lay theological education. The series will air initially on AIB TV, with later rebroadcasts on the Internet at www.aibtv.com.

Dr. R. Alan Culpepper, dean of McAfee School of Theology and member of the board of directors of AIB TV, said network representatives initially approached him with the concept of doing some sort of educational programming.

“We brought the initial idea back to the faculty,” Culpepper said. “They asked us to do 13 hours of programming, possibly filming one class. To that point, our experience working with AIB had been filming special events and guest speakers for rebroadcast.”

Culpepper said the faculty decided creating new content based on sound theological principles was the best strategy, and Dr. Brett Younger came up with the name: “The 30-Minute Seminary.”

A student host was selected to introduce each session, Culpepper said, and in the fall, faculty members taped two episodes a week for seven weeks in front of a live audience of students. Each episode features faculty with years of classroom experience conducting lectures, but Culpepper said the series proved more challenging than they first anticipated. While he normally takes an entire semester delving into the Gospel of John with his students, Culpepper had to distill all four gospels into on 30-minute episode.

“It was very challenging,” he said. “Many professors said they devoted much more time than they first anticipated preparing for their programs. In my case, the challenge was conveying what was most important from each of the four gospels and showing the distinctiveness of each. The goal is to whet the appetite of viewers so that they will want to know more, to find out more, whether that brings them to McAfee as a student, to another seminary or school, or to just do some more reading on their own.”

As the nation’s largest regional interfaith cable network, AIB is celebrating its 40th anniversary, reaching homes in 19 metro-Atlanta counties. Patty Mosteller, director of marketing and communications for AIB, said she thinks “The 30-Minute Seminary” has the opportunity to reach a wide-ranging audience.

“The goal is to provide viewers with an educational tool and a glimpse inside classes at seminary,” Mosteller said. “I think it will be interesting not only to prospective students, but a great resource for churches, Sunday School classes and other groups.”

Culpepper said McAfee’s relationship with AIB has been mutually beneficial. “Their charter is to promote religion and religious understanding in metro-Atlanta, across a diverse spectrum,” he said. “For McAfee, it allows us to reach out into the community and raise our visibility among faith groups.”

The scheduled program line-up includes:
Professor                                                      Program Subject
Dr. David G. Garber Jr.                                    Old Testament
Dr. Peter Rhea Jones Sr.                                 The Parables of Jesus
Dr. R. Alan Culpepper                                      The Gospels
Dr. Thomas B. Slater                                       Revelation
Dr. Nancy L. deClaisse-Walford                        Biblical Languages
Dr. Graham B. Walker Jr.                                 Christian Theology
Dr. William Loyd Allen                                      Baptist Heritage
Dr. Ronald W. Johnson                                     Evangelism and Mission
Dr. David P. Gushee                                         Christian Ethics
Dr. Larry L. McSwain                                        Leadership          
Dr. Denise M. Massey                                      Pastoral Care
Dr. James N. “Dock” Hollingsworth Jr.                Supervised Ministry
Dr. Brett Younger                                             Preaching
Dr. Karen G. Massey                                        Worship


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