“…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 section 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.

Greetings, Columbia Community—

As you know, the President’s Council and the Campus Safety Committee have been monitoring COVID-19 developments and updates to CDC guidelines closely as we plan for Columbia’s safe return to campus in the Fall.

Even as we rejoice at the hopeful signs that the pandemic is being brought under control, we are also working to address a range of concerns beyond safety alone, including what steps are necessary to implement an orderly and equitable return to campus. This does not mean that we will return immediately to pre-pandemic norms and practices; indeed, we know that it would be impossible and unwise to simply “go back to the way things were.” Instead, we are undertaking a phased return to campus that will give us all time to plan for our needs and integrate the lessons of the pandemic.

Here are a few key things to be aware of:

  • Summer courses will remain online, as already communicated. To serve a wide variety of student needs, Columbia will continue to offer some online classes going forward. For 2021-2022, about a third of all classes will be in this format.
  • Columbia will resume normal, on-campus business hours on Monday, August 9.
  • Columbia will NOT resume open access to campus for external visitors right away. As we return to campus, we will prioritize safety by continuing some restrictions for outside visitors. In a community that prizes hospitality, we understand that this precaution may feel limiting. However, we undertake them as genuine expressions of hospitality, in a spirit of mutual care for the members of this community and concern for the wellbeing of our visitors, too.


Friends, it has been a long road, and we may yet have quite a ways to go, but we hope you will receive this news with joy—we will all be able to gather again on campus soon!

Leanne Van Dyk
President, Columbia Theological Seminary

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 wellbeing 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. 


  • 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

In this video series, Rev. Charles A. Wiley III talks with members of the Columbia community about how they are adapting to COVID-19.