Imagine a young person in your church shares with you that she will finally be starting seminary in the Summer of 2021. “You mean in the Fall?” you inquire. “No,” she replies, “At Sophia we start seminary in the Summer, because that’s the height of the growing season.”
Sophia Theological Seminary and Sophia Farms began with a bold and grand idea: a seminary that would be sustained financially by a working farm. In this re-imagined community, students would attend seminary without tuition or housing costs, while they, along with faculty, would provide the labor for the farm. This vision of re-imagined theological education has now reached a milestone, one that will propel this idea’s movement from the conceptualization phase towards physical existence.
After incorporating both the Seminary and the Farms and registering them with the appropriate agencies, the leadership’s next steps were to communicate this re-imagined project and to invite others to join with us in support. In the Fall of 2019, five churches across Virginia hosted us for breakfast meetings with local church and community leaders. These gatherings, along with launching our website and creating a Facebook presence, generated stimulating conversations and enthusiastic interest.
This early enthusiasm has brought about a wonderful opportunity for Sophia. Mr. Charles Pond, a persistent advocate of theological education and with a diverse business background including significant farming experience, is memorializing his partner and wife, Juanita, through an exceedingly gracious challenge gift of $150,000.
Mr. Pond invites others to match this challenge gift and join him in assisting Sophia toward the purchase of a farm. We are deeply grateful for Mr. Pond’s support through this challenge gift, and we ask others to accept this matching opportunity and extend even further the impact of his generosity.
Sophia Theological Seminary and Sophia Farms derives its name from the Greek for “wisdom.” This wisdom originates in God’s principles of justice and order on which God founded creation. For humanity, attaining sophia can only be a life-long pursuit, continuing to choose the path of God’s wise way.
This wisdom will mark the ministers of Sophia:
- ministers formed in a community of inclusive welcome, learning how to maintain such community in their places of ministry;
- ministers formed on a patch of God’s good earth, learning to live in harmony with the rhythms of work, rest, and worship built into the created order;
- ministers formed in a space without partitions, learning to integrate deep theological study, deep relationship, and deep calluses.
As a friend of Sophia Theological Seminary and Sophia Farms, your support will enable the Seminary to bring to life this grand idea, this dream to shape lives well-equipped for ministry. We invite you to support the Seminary by:
- praying for all members of the Sophia community: trustees, faculty, partners, supporters, and future students, as together we bring to life this bold and innovative plan;
- recommending a prospective student to consider Sophia as a place to study, work, and grow;
- offering financial support through donation, recurring gift, or pledge.
In these early months, support from individuals is making a significant impact on our work, and this same support will continue to make a difference in sustaining the growth of the Sophia community.
As our story continues to unfold, we are grateful to you who, from the earliest days, have encouraged us and invested in us. We look forward to seeing the ways in which our partnerships will be part of God’s work in the Church, in the world, and in this early chapter of the Sophia story.
For more information about Sophia Theological Seminary and Sophia Farms, you can continue browsing our site and follow us on Facebook. We can receive donations on our website or by mail to Sophia Theological Seminary, PO Box 9351, Richmond, VA 23227.