The Ministerial Formation Program is a vital part of the Master of Divinity Program. The process of becoming a spiritual leader in our world requires us to pay attention to our lives. As a Master of Divinity student, you will be actively engaged in the process of integrating all the aspects of your lives - spiritual, emotional, academic, ministerial, relational, financial, and physical - in order to discover a wider and deeper way of living.
Our program provides you with supervised ministry experience and regular opportunities to learn from your experiences through focused discussion with colleagues. You also will be exposed to different ways of shaping a life of faith and leadership, through a diverse student population and through a guided visit to another part of the world.
Our program has four elements:
- Field Education
- Ministry Seminars
- Comprehensive Vocational Reviews
- International Cross-Cultural Seminar
The goal of field education is to offer opportunities for formative experiences in ministry outside the classroom. Possible field education sites include: churches, hospital chaplaincies, retirement homes, university campuses, social service agencies, and local urban shelters. Through field education, you will learn about yourself and will be shaped by experiences in practice of ministry, encounters with the people with whom you serve, and the wisdom of a skilled supervisor.
Our Field Education Coordinator, Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Soto, provides support to students, the teaching church or institution, and the approved On-Site Supervisor. During Field Education, you are led to examine your life skills in pastoral care, preaching, church administration, and social ministries. You also take time regularly for self-reflection.
Ministry Seminars actively integrate faith, theological studies, spiritual practices, relationships, and ministry by exploring the challenges of shaping lives of faith, ministry, and leadership. Each student enrolled in the Master of Divinity program is required to register for Ministry Seminars 100, 200, and 300.
In the early part of ministry seminars, you begin the discipline of processing and integrating the various aspects of the Master of Divinity program. Practice, reflection, writing, presentations, and group discussions are the main methods. You are introduced to spiritual practices from different courses. As you continue in your ministry seminars, you continue integrating the various aspects of the Master of Divinity program through spiritual practices, reflection, writing, presentations, and discussion. In addition, you will research and explore the explicit and implicit expectations for ministry within your denominational context to become more fully equipped to discern the mission of your denomination and your willingness and ability to commit yourself to that mission. Towards the conclusion of the ministry seminars, you reflect theologically on your field education experiences. Utilizing both your experience and the accounts of other ministers, you carefully consider what it means to make a commitment to a life of ministry.
COMPREHENSIVE VOCATIONAL REVIEWS
The Comprehensive Vocation Review is a key requirement for students in the Master of Divinity program. The review is an opportunity for you to receive feedback concerning your participation in the Seminary program and your readiness and suitability for your chosen vocation. The team also will make recommendations concerning your final stages in Seminary and preparations for ministry. The review session will be conducted by the student, faculty member, ministerial guide, judicatory representative or mentor in one’s desired field, the FE supervisor, and one student peer. The session typically lasts 1.5 – 2 hours.
Goals of the CVR:
● To assess a student's progress in the program and ability to continue;
● To provide care and support for the student;
● To assess a student’s readiness for his or her vocation;
● To review, and modify when necessary, the formation goals of the student;
● To counsel a student about his or her FE placement plan;
● To advise, when needed, a modification of study plans given the particularities of the student;
● To communicate, when applicable, with judicatory representatives about the progress of a candidate for ministry.
The International Cross-Cultural Requirement is to engage in the appreciation of others and to embrace God’s love for all peoples. It is imperative that leaders for the church remain open and sensitive to other people’s and peoples’ realities, and become self-critically aware of their own heritage to theological, cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, and socioeconomic biases and other historical conditioning. It is also imperative that church leaders be cognizant and appreciative of the church elsewhere on earth, in the diversity of its expression.
Educational Goals of the Cross-Cultural Seminar:
• Social and economic otherness (e.g., poverty, wealth);
• National and cultural otherness (e.g., another country with a primary language different from one’s own);
• Racial and ethnic otherness (e.g., situations where Euro-American culture is not dominant);
• Ideological otherness (e.g., different theological and political convictions);
• Ecclesiastical otherness (e.g., different pieties, liturgies, polities, mission emphases).
Such experience and reflection are to include what such otherness means for oneself personally and vocationally, and also for the church, its nature, vocation and ministry.