Friday, April 29, 2011

A New Name for the Same Great School

For those who didn't know, I am about a year away from graduating with my Master of Divinity degree. Yesterday it was officially announced that I will graduate from a different school than the one I began at, all without ever transferring. I began my graduate education at Mars Hill Graduate School, but we have now changed our name to the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

I find myself a little ambivalent about this change. On the one hand, it was DEFINITELY time for a name change. There is a mega-church here in Seattle that goes by the same name, so it has been incredibly confusing to explain to people that my school is in no way connected with the church. Mars Hill Church is undoubtedly doing many good things here in Seattle, but their theology is very, very different than ours and I don't always agree with the things they teach or the actions they take, so it has been frustrating to constantly be connected with them. I find myself repeatedly defining my school based on what we are not, rather than being able to gush about the things that we are, the real reasons I love my institution. It will be refreshing to tell people what school I attend and not immediately need to qualify that statement.

On the other hand, I LOVE our old name (and am not crazy about our new one). I love what it stands for. I love that Mars Hill was a place that Paul went to engage genuinely with his culture, a place of knowledge and wisdom and philosophy. I love how cool Mars Hill sounds. Maybe that sounds trite, but I don't care. Mars Hill Graduate School just rolls off the tongue a little better than the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. I love that the initials don't sound like a sexually transmitted disease. SSTP sounds like I've caught something just one step down from chlamydia.

So I begin my time at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology with both joy and resistance, both excitement and hesitation. I am sure it will take me a little while to adjust to the new name, but I am excited for what it means for our institution. It definitely feels like a new chapter in our story, one I am glad I get to be a part of. The following videos were produced by the school, and were both incredibly helpful for me in this time of transition. The first was just released last night following the official name change, a look forward to life in a new era. The second is a video from our founder and former president, Dan Allender. It is a helpful look back at why Mars Hill was chosen as the first name and why it will always be special to me and so many others.


  1. wow that video kept talking about doing the school justice through a name and honoring all these things and they chose such a lifeless name. It stinks to change your name because of Driscoll but it makes sense.

  2. @Clint: We are trying to figure out what the next step is for us. I graduate in a year. I am looking into the Disciples of Christ denomination and wrestling through the 'church planting' v. 'pastoring an existing church' dilemma. We are also trying to figure out the place that we will settle down in, which may end up being Denver.

    @Charlie: I too am not a huge fan of the name and think it lacks the poetic, artist flare that the name Mars Hill had (which definitely captures our ethos as a school). But like you said, it was time to move past that name and begin to be known what what we are, rather than define ourselves by what we are not.