“…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” -Eccl. 3:5b

This page provides information and resources as we plan for reopening our campus for the Fall 2021 semester.



This page will continue to be updated with important information about coronavirus and its impact on the Columbia Theological Seminary community and its operations, as further decisions are announced.

Please see the first tab below for our most up to date policies and campus safety level.

Columbia faculty and staff can find more information on our Back to Campus portal.

For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit the CDC information page.

Updates to Columbia’s COVID-19 policy have been developed based upon the recommendations of the seminary’s COVID-19 Task Force and approved by the President’s Council to clarify community expectations and outline standard practices designed to safeguard the well being of the seminary community as we transition back to campus this fall. The seminary continues to actively monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and be advised concerning best practices for educational institutions by local and national health experts. This policy will be updated as conditions evolve, and the most up-to-date information will be posted to this page regularly. 


  • Latest Information for Faculty & Staff: Visit our Back to Campus portal for more information.
  • Mask Policy: The health and safety of our community is at the forefront of our back to campus planning. Therefore, masks are required on campus for those who are not fully vaccinated, and, out of an abundance of caution and consideration for our community, we are still encouraging mask-wearing for those who are vaccinated. This guidance may evolve as we continue to watch both CDC guidelines and the spread of the new variants of COVID-19.
  • Campus Safety Level: We are currently on Safety Level Yellow which means there are still some restrictions and limited access in place. Please review the Columbia Seminary Campus Safety Levels for full details.
  • Vaccination Policy: Effective June 21, Columbia has adopted a new vaccination policy to protect our employees, their families, and the broader community from COVID-19 infection to the greatest extent possible. Download the policy.
  • Outdoor Gatherings:
    Given the CDC’s guidelines for fully vaccinated persons and relaxation of guidelines for outdoor gatherings, Columbia Seminary is announcing the following updates:I. Employees of all designations (OSW, EFW, RW) are now permitted to plan and attend outdoor gatherings on campus, without special approval, provided that the following precautions are observed:Participants in outdoor gatherings on campus shall maintain social distance of at least 6 feet, and outdoor gatherings shall not exceed the number of individuals who can gather six feet apart in a given space (for instance, the athletic field can accommodate a larger gathering while the BLC courtyard can only accommodate a smaller group).Participants in outdoor gatherings on campus shall complete a contact tracing log for the event.
  • For the time being, participants in outdoor gatherings shall continue to observe masking protocols, regardless of vaccination status. Columbia will continue this practice until such time as a clear protocol for registering vaccination status has been implemented.


To ensure clear communication and prevent double-booking, employees should reserve outdoor spaces for Columbia-sponsored events using the facilities calendar managed by Business Office staff.

II.  Students are now permitted to plan and attend outdoor gatherings on campus in compliance with OSACL / ResLife instructions. OSACL / ResLife staff will communicate to students regarding outdoor gatherings separately.

Report and Disclosure

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Reporting

Columbia Theological Seminary

Final Report and Disclosure

Grant: P25E202713

August 31, 2020


Columbia Theological Seminary acknowledges it signed and returned to the U.S. of Education the Certification and Agreement on April 20,2020, and gives assurance that the Seminary has used, or intends to use, no less than 50 percent of the funds received under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act to provide Emergency Financial Aid Grants to students. All students who were eligible in round one was granted equal amounts of funds. In round two, continuing students were given the opportunity to apply for additional funds to supplement their needs which were derived from COVID-19 issues.

1. The total amount of funds allocated to Columbia Theological Seminary from the U.S. Department of Education for disbursement to students is: $34,349.00.

2. The total amount of Emergency Financial Aid Grants distributed to students under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act as of August 31, 2020 is $34,349.00.

3. The total number of students at Columbia Theological Seminary eligible to participate in (Round Two) programs under section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and thus eligible to receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants under Section 18004(a)(1) of the CARES Act is 42.

4. The total number of students who applied for funds and have received an Emergency Financial Aid Grant under Section 18004(a)(1) as of August 31, 2020 is 92.

5. The method(s) used by Columbia Theological Seminary to determine which students could receive Emergency Financial Aid Grants and how much they would receive:

• Our methodology was to provide emergency grants to all eligible students in Round One to ensure that funds are distributed as widely as possible. (Since all our students suffered some form of need due to either relocation or curtailed services)

• All current degree seeking graduate students for term of disbursement.

• Eligible for funding under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 who filed a FAFSA for the 2019-20 academic year.

• Maximum total award per student $300 (Round One).

• Maximum total award per student $379.94 (Round Two).

• In Round Two, 42 students were sent applications for additional funds and given a deadline to return the application.

6. The instructions, directions or guidance provided by Columbia Theological Seminary to students concerning the Emergency Financial Aid Grants were sent via Seminary email and published on the Seminary website.


3rd Quarter 2020 Budget & Expenditures Report

4th Quarter 2020 Budget & Expenditure Report

1st Quarter 2021 Budget & Expenditure Report


Walter Brueggemann“Until the Dancing Begins Again.”
Brueggemann finds in Jeremiah insights into our ministry in the midst of the present pandemic. We are, he says, “to render the virus as penultimate, to see that even its lethal force is outflanked by the goodness of God.”

From Columbia Connections Blog:

Dr. Michael Lee Cook, Leadership in Ministry faculty, offers tips on managing stress from a Bowenian perspective

Reflections by our Leadership In Ministry faculty on clergy responses to COVID-19,  Part 1 and Part 2

Supporting good mental health during the crisis by combating automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) 

Prof. Mindy McGarrah Sharp with Moving and Mourning: A Practical Theologian’s Values Matrix for Stressful Times, Part 1 and Part 2

The Center of Lifelong Learning, on the quick pivot from a traditional to virtual experience for the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program in Imagination and resilience: Your Keys to Success in Unusual Times

A Self-Care Message for Pastors from Prof. Bill Harkins

Being Called to the Ordinary in These Extraordinary Times by Revs. Travis and Dr. Karen Webster, co-founders of Healthy Seminarians-Healthy Church Initiative

From the Greater Columbia Community:

God’s New Thing by Emeritus Professor Walter Breuggemann on the Church Anew Blog

Talking to Your Children About COVID-19 by  CTS Prof. Kathy Dawson on the APCE Advocate Blog

Resourcing the In-Between: Teaching and Learning Pastoral Care During Pandemic by CTS Prof. Mindy McGarrah Sharp (from the Wabash Center Blog)

There’s nothing ordinary about this year’s Ordinary Time. In Leaning Out, Letting Go, CTS Prof. Kathy Dawson (on the APCE Advocate Blog) says this is the time for clergy to examine what they do and why