Is this a valid university?
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August 02, 2021, 07:49:30 PM
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  Is this a valid university?
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Author Topic: Is this a valid university?  (Read 251 times)
Senator Scott, PPT
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« on: July 20, 2021, 02:18:20 AM »

Asking here because essentially the university I am asking about is a seminary, or at least appears to be.

https://www.aaoccseminary.com/#/

As the link would suggest, it is the seminary of the independent American Apostolic Old Catholic Church that I've mentioned before. They're a very small offshoot of the Catholic Church, so necessarily that means they likely do not require a Master's (ordination in the Episcopal Church does) unless they want a very small pool of candidates to grow with. This would only require an Associate's degree, and I already have three semesters of college under my belt.

No poll options because I want to hear from trusted sources whether this looks legitimate and not like a diploma mill or Trump University kind of deal.
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afleitch
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2021, 03:20:04 AM »

I think your best bet is to ask them. Not 'are you folks valid' but if they and the academic staff are accredited or working towards it if they've only recently opened. You can be indirect with that too, if you're asking them about what they can offer you. If they have individuals doing or having completed the course it might be good to drop them a line too to see what their experiences are.
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SecularGlobalist
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2021, 06:40:49 AM »

I would be very suspicious because there is no physical address listed.

I only clicked on the url because I was curious what the campus looked like.

If I was into that religious stuff, I'd only attend a brick-and-mortar institution.  There are several in Milwaukee that have absolutely gorgeous Gothic-style campuses overlooking Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee skyline (who knew Wisconsin was a hotbed of Opus Dei cultism?)

I would need that natural beauty in my environment in order to ponder the nature of God and the Universe.  
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DC Al Fine
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2021, 07:49:27 AM »

As SecularGlobalist said, there's no address listed, and the "denomination" it serves appears to consist of two parishes in the United States. That's a pretty big red flag.

Taking a step back from that,  there's some broader issues at play here. If you're going to seminary to do parish ministry or to work in some sort of church role, you want more than "valid". You want training that will enable you to serve in those roles and serve well.

Have you talked to your pastor or other church officials about your desire to go to seminary? In Presbyterianism, you "come under care" of your Presbytery well in advance of starting seminary, which includes having mentors who can help navigate pitfalls on the way to ordination (including seminary choice). The Mainline and other "high" churches are usually pretty good about this, so there's likely some sort of equivalent for you on your tradition. Some of the wording in your OP makes it sound like you are doing this all on your own, which if true, is pretty concerning. Get mentored!
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Senator Scott, PPT
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2021, 08:35:57 AM »
« Edited: July 20, 2021, 10:16:03 AM by Senator Scott, PPT »

I am actually having real second thoughts about this real fast, mostly for the points DC raised. One thing I also left out is that the same people (and particularly, the woman whose e-services I've been attending - which only gathers 2-4 people watching on average. 2-4 period, not 200-400!) are in every photograph on the church's main website. So even my OP really understates just how small this is as an operation. And a denomination having two parishes and an online presence of such a minuscule number isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

It's a shame, because the church literally brands itself as LGBT friendly, theologically conservative, and orthodox on Eucharistic matters, and that's the feeling I get from the Bishop's sermons. That's a great deal more in line with my beliefs and style than the Episcopal Church, especially having used the pandemic to partake in some online services and see which ones are more Gospel-centered and which ones are more... well, Harry Potter-centered. (I wish this was an exaggeration.)

The e-worship is still going on for me until I'm relocated somewhere that hasn't been determined. But when that changes, I'll take another look.

And yeah, I have been going through the entire college search alone. It's not something I like doing very much or feel particularly responsible about without a good point of reference - and that's putting seminaries (which normally are for Master's degrees and probably should remain that way) aside.

Thanks for the feedback, guys.
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beesley
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2021, 11:42:45 AM »

Fyi, are you certain you want to leave Norway?

I know of theological seminaries in the UK actually - there's one in Bridgend in Wales which is one of the main reformed schools worldwide. If you want I could fill you in on more.
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John Dule
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2021, 01:03:28 PM »

They don't have a Wikipedia page either. And if you look closely at their mission statement, it appears that this is actually a Christian organization. Hard pass.
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Donerail
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2021, 01:16:54 PM »

It's a shame, because the church literally brands itself as LGBT friendly, theologically conservative, and orthodox on Eucharistic matters, and that's the feeling I get from the Bishop's sermons. That's a great deal more in line with my beliefs and style than the Episcopal Church, especially having used the pandemic to partake in some online services and see which ones are more Gospel-centered and which ones are more... well, Harry Potter-centered. (I wish this was an exaggeration.)
A "denomination" that appears to be a single congregation is typically able to have more uniformity of belief and liturgical styles than a denomination with several thousand.

Not only does it not physically exist, but looking at the profiles of the professors, the school does not appear to have any full-time faculty. Oneís a nurse, anotherís a grad student in Ireland, oneís a librarian. The only one listed as a full professor is also the presiding bishop of the denomination. This looks like it's basically the operation of one or a handful of people.
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Senator Scott, PPT
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« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2021, 03:16:46 PM »

Fyi, are you certain you want to leave Norway?

I know of theological seminaries in the UK actually - there's one in Bridgend in Wales which is one of the main reformed schools worldwide. If you want I could fill you in on more.

I'm not actually from Norway, my first ancestor to America was. Tongue

It's a shame, because the church literally brands itself as LGBT friendly, theologically conservative, and orthodox on Eucharistic matters, and that's the feeling I get from the Bishop's sermons. That's a great deal more in line with my beliefs and style than the Episcopal Church, especially having used the pandemic to partake in some online services and see which ones are more Gospel-centered and which ones are more... well, Harry Potter-centered. (I wish this was an exaggeration.)
A "denomination" that appears to be a single congregation is typically able to have more uniformity of belief and liturgical styles than a denomination with several thousand.

Not only does it not physically exist, but looking at the profiles of the professors, the school does not appear to have any full-time faculty. One’s a nurse, another’s a grad student in Ireland, one’s a librarian. The only one listed as a full professor is also the presiding bishop of the denomination. This looks like it's basically the operation of one or a handful of people.

Yeah, yikes. I'm scratching this off for good, and I might just cut ties with them altogether.

What's weird is that an old book I used to own (basically a modern introduction to progressive Christianity) had all the mainline, pro-LGBT churches listed on the last pages and one of them was the "Old Catholic Church". But when I looked that up, all I could find were pre-Vatican II churches that sure as heck ain't open and affirming.
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Donerail
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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2021, 04:25:36 PM »

What's weird is that an old book I used to own (basically a modern introduction to progressive Christianity) had all the mainline, pro-LGBT churches listed on the last pages and one of them was the "Old Catholic Church". But when I looked that up, all I could find were pre-Vatican II churches that sure as heck ain't open and affirming.
Usually I see "Old Catholic" used to refer to the churches of the Union of Utrecht, which do bless same-sex marriages. There's a variety of very small US groups, including the one you mentioned, theEvangelical Catholic Church (about the same size), the United Catholic Church (about the same size), the Reformed Catholic Church (slightly larger), and the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America (slightly larger), that all claim descent or inspiration or some sort of kinship with the Union of Utrecht. For its part, the Union has never shown much interest in establishing a US branch, and has been in full communion with the ECUSA for nearly a century.
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Senator Scott, PPT
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2021, 08:53:27 PM »

Update: the archbishop emailed me back.



So, I'd basically be entering into a church of fewer than 50 people and when I figure out they're full of crap and go back to the Episcopal Church or transfer to another independent Catholic Church, I'll owe them full tuition.

This is Ashfat Bridal: The Seminary. Not even going to bother responding and that's probably it for me continuing with this church.

Thanks to Donerali for referring me to other independent Catholic churches that aren't this sketchy.
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2021, 09:53:18 PM »

Seminary education is really not the sort of thing that can be done adequately in an all-online context (telling Scott this even though he's decided against this particular place since he's spoken fairly optimistically of the shift to online learning in the past and so this might come up again in the future). Face-to-face interaction with other people, even if only in a homiletic context, is absolutely key to becoming able to be a competent religious leader, in any religion. That would be a red flag for me even for a seminary ostensibly associated with a legitimate denomination.
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Senator Scott, PPT
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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2021, 10:19:51 PM »

Seminary education is really not the sort of thing that can be done adequately in an all-online context (telling Scott this even though he's decided against this particular place since he's spoken fairly optimistically of the shift to online learning in the past and so this might come up again in the future). Face-to-face interaction with other people, even if only in a homiletic context, is absolutely key to becoming able to be a competent religious leader, in any religion. That would be a red flag for me even for a seminary ostensibly associated with a legitimate denomination.

FYI I've changed my mind on online learning, seeing as even the students themselves clearly don't like it. I do like the integration of technology in education, but replacing schools with laptops will just make us all miserable, disconnected, and education quality would decline as well.

Right now I'm looking into online schools for a BA in Psychology. One of my biggest handicaps is transportation. I also saw this seminary as a good way to get my seminary education as affordably as possible. But even I was having doubts about online seminaries; I assumed a good portion of the program requires flights to their "campus", but from what I've heard, most denominations take good care of their clergy and ordination students.
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