With the goal of becoming a seminary professor, Downs transferred to Cairn University (then PCB) and–at the advice of Dr. Gil Peterson and “to the dismay of my former theology professor”–pursued studies in Christian Education. “While I was at PCB,” he states in his acceptance speech published in SPCE’s winter newsletter, “I made two startling discoveries. The first was that Christian Education is where the action was, because Christian educators sat between the theologian and the person in the pew, translating theology into understandable concepts that had meaning to the life of the believer. The second discovery was that Christian Education [at the time] was focusing on the wrong question. Instead of asking ‘How do you organize a Sunday School?’ it should have been asking ‘How do you grow a Christian?’”
After graduation, Downs turned down a full ride at the University of Pennsylvania, choosing instead to pursue his doctorate in Religious Education and serve on the faculty of PCB for the next 8 years. For the past 30 years, Downs has served as a well-respected professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Every year, the Department of Education reports the rate of students who have completed a teacher education program and if, upon completion of the program, they received a Pennsylvania instructional