Raleigh, North Carolina, is consistently listed as one of the top places to live. Raleigh was named the #2 best place to live in 2018 by Money Magazine, and #2 in a 2019 Livability survey. From great schools to cheaper housing than other major metropolitan areas, Raleigh has a lot going for it. But like other cities in the South, Raleigh still suffers from the lingering effects of systemic racism. A recent article in the New York Times profiled the issues of gentrification and wealth disparity in Raleigh.
Additionally, the Raleigh-Durham area is one of the top destinations for international immigrants and refugees. As a thriving part of the “New South,” opportunities for ministry abound in Raleigh and its surrounding suburbs.
LAMP Seminary RDU embraces these tensions. As a site of the LAMP Theological Seminary network, LAMP RDU (“RDU” is the code of Raleigh-Durham International Airport), was started to “train the called, not call the trained.”
LAMP RDU exists under the formal oversight of Christ the King Presbyterian Church. Senior Pastor Geoff Bradford had experience with LAMP as a church planter in Philadelphia. Bradford had a vision for training local leaders who would be able to plant churches to keep up with the exponential population growth in Raleigh.
Bradford also desired to provide quality, affordable theological education to minority leaders, who are often excluded from traditional seminaries because of financial and educational barriers. Additionally, many non-white pastors are bi-vocational, and can’t afford the time needed to attend traditional seminaries.
Academic Dean Gregory Soderberg summarizes the growth of LAMP RDU: “Since LAMP RDU began in January of 2017, God has blessed us richly. In the past 2 years, 13 pastors and local leaders collaborated to lead 13 classes. 20 students took or audited classes. The 13 teachers represented 13 different churches and the 20 students represented 8 different local churches.
“LAMP RDU is focused on strategic partnerships. In order to help us engage with our cultural context, we formed an Advisory Board of local pastors and ministry leaders, some of whom are not part of the PCA. These partnerships have been a great blessing, as it enables us to focus on our shared commitment to the Gospel, even as we learn from each other and encourage each other in our ministries.”