Let all guests be received as Christ who will say, “I came as a guest, and you received me.” St. Benedict
Beauty is an essential component of experiences that foster spiritual growth. Sewanee’s 13,000-acre campus on the Cumberland Plateau is chief among our many assets. Not only will you find quiet places of natural beauty for hiking or meditation, you will soon be able to participate in service learning ministries focused on environmental sustainability.
We see all people of faith as living members of the body of Christ, and we are incomplete without the participation of everyone who wants to join us. We are committed to making our courses accessible to and affordable by all. Scholarships are available (by application) for those in need of financial assistance.
When you visit us you can look forward to delicious meals, warm Sewanee hospitality, and you can count on The Beecken Center staff to help you make hotel reservations, arrange transportation, and provide travel tips to help make your experience both edifying and renewing.
We hope to see you soon!
The Sewanee Experience
“The Mountain,” as Sewanee’s home is sometimes called, is known for its serenity and panoramic beauty. Located in Sewanee, Tennessee, in the heart of the Southeast, its wooded trails and long views into the surrounding countryside are ideal for spiritual reflection. Sewanee is a “thin” place, “where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual.” In the midst of such astonishing natural beauty, The School of Theology is devoted to the Church’s mission; a discipline of prayer that seeks the Holy Spirit’s shaping energy; a community united by Christ while differing in perspective and background; informed, imaginative training in pastoral leadership; an unshaken confidence in the gifts the Anglican tradition brings to the Christian movement and the world.
However, the other side of the mountain is “Forgotten Appalachia,” in reference to the poverty of this area of the Cumberland Plateau. Sewanee is within close proximity to seven of the poorest counties in the nation. Few industries are located in the area, with retail and convenience stores and farms being the major employers. It is not unusual to find three or four generations of the same family living on one patch of land. People in this region are seldom optimistic about anything. Hope rests in tentative terms. High unemployment, high school dropout rates and infant mortality rates compound the despair. The School of Theology, and the university as a whole is answering a call to engage the mountain’s poorest residents, and together discover new assets and ways to transform the community.
We believe the yearnings and aspirations of the emerging generation of church leaders more than credibly matches with what the deep spirit of Sewanee offers. This current generation of 18-29 year olds is described as a “change-the-world” generation. They are passionate about transforming human conditions, alleviating suffering, and healing relationships and the earth. They long to forge communities of hospitality, relationship, and service that can provide hope. The School of Theology is intentional about attracting and serving a younger student body. The Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, Dean of the School of Theology says the church needs to actively recruit young seminarians “because there are things the church needs to have done that require some serious experience. You’re not going to get that kind of experience unless you get into the work early. It takes a lifetime.”
Sewanee has made it a priority to create living and learning communities that appeal to this change-the-world generation. Young adults in seminary are past the point of living in dorms like undergraduates, but often don’t want to be saddled with truckloads of furniture and live in houses. Most want to live in communities that are radically inclusive, reflect socioeconomic range and diversity, and are structured for collaborative learning and decision-making.
The leadership of The School of Theology believes that stewardship of the next generation’s formation and education is a particularly weighty and hopeful matter, given how many of this generation believe that a Christianity of the future can be “the most powerful agent of social transformation in the world.”