Yale Divinity School courses

Berkeley Divinity School operates as an Episcopal seminary within Yale Divinity School. While we have our own life of worship, community, and spiritual formation, our students have access to the full resources of Yale Divinity School and Yale University.

Several YDS professors offer courses regularly that touch on some of the core leadership skills we are emphasizing:

Ministry formation courses at Yale Divinity School and available to Berkeley students include a yearly course taught by Bill Goettler, Associate Dean for Leadership Initiatives at YDS, titled Pastoral Leadership and Church Administration. It is a weekly seminar open to middlers and seniors that draws on the instructor’s experience in parish life and university administration. Students are introduced to organizational theory, strategic planning, group dynamics, and conflict resolution. The course covers personnel issues, as well as financial issues such as budgets, accounting, taxes, stewardship, endowments, buildings and property, and legal issues. The course focuses on the parish experience students will be faced with and includes personal planning, including time management, setting priorities, and preparing for the first year as a new pastor.

Joyce Mercer, Professor of Pastoral Care and Practical Theology, teaches a course entitled Conflict Transformation: Pastoral Care with Congregations and Communities. Its goals are to build capacities for skillful, theologically reflective leadership in and through situations of conflict. The underlying assumption in the course is that conflict is inevitable, but not all conflict is destructive or negative. Throughout the course, attention is paid to the role of cultural differences in conflict. The work of conflict transformation is situated within the methodologies and praxis of practical theology, which views conflict work as a form of community-focused pastoral care. The course teaches concrete skills of conflict engagement for use in diverse contexts where conflict occurs—interpersonal, group, congregational, and community contexts. It introduces a basic familiarity with the literature of conflict and peace studies as a cognate discipline to pastoral care as public ministry.

Janet Ruffing, RSM, Professor in the Practice of Spirituality and Ministerial Leadership, teaches Theology and Practice of Spiritual Direction, Contemporary Christian Spirituality, Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, and Women Mystics. Courses typically include a combination of practice, reflection, and academic study. For example, students in the spiritual direction course undergo their own spiritual direction outside of class and reflect on it for class, as well as learning about different historical and contemporary models of spiritual direction. Students in the Ignatian Exercises course work through the exercises and reflect on their experience. These courses build students’ own spiritual practices and prepare them to teach them to others.