In 2007 The School of Theology, The University of the South, Sewanee, under the leadership of The Rev. Dr. William S. Stafford, the Rev. Walter Brownridge, and the Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz, began an exploration of ways to integrate social justice ministry learning into the seminary curriculum more explicitly.
During August 2011 – December 2017 the Contextual Education Program continued to work with faculty, staff, students, and area congregational and community leaders to build on that learning. Life-changing experiences through with the congregation-based community organization, DART, led the Rev. Kammy Young to collaborating with the Rev. Dr. Robert Linthicum and the Leadership Development Initiative to integrate practices of missional engagement, leadership development and community organizing into the contextual education program and curriculum. From 2013-2017, the experience of 38 students involved in 22 missional projects with neighboring congregations and communities has had a positive affect the seminarian’s vision of church leadership and leading for God’s mission in a way that prepares them to more effectively lead change and do justice, as described in our seminary’s curriculum and program drop-down bar or the links below.
CURRICULUM & PROGRAM:
IDEAS FOR CHANGE:
The Missional Engagement Leadership team met with retreat leaders the Rev. Dr. John deBeer and the Rev. Dr. Tricia deBeer and developed the ideas for change moving forward in order to see Episcopal theological education in The School of Theology enhanced so as to expand an seminarian’s understanding of what their ministerial life will look like beyond the pastoral needs of those already assembled in the church building. Our notes from that retreat are here: 2017 MEI Leadership Retreat Notes
We invite other Episcopal seminaries into conversations around what the curricular requirements or options are that especially help prepare students for ATS assessments of knowledge and growth in the following areas and that address areas of formation from seminary into ministry described in the Into-Action website:
- Empathy for the poor and oppressed
- Concern about social justice
- Insight into troubles of others
- Ability to live faith in daily life
- Ability to relate social issues to faith
- Ability to lead others
- The areas in your seminary’s curriculum of education and formation that are strengthening capacities that will help clergy move beyond maintenance into deeper and broader leadership for transformational change in the Church, such as:
- In an institutional or community setting, developing lay people as leaders for programs of education or action in that setting.
- Giving a focus to community ministry by selecting the problems the ministry will particularly respond to.
- Working to get people from different groups (e.g., age, income level) to agree on long-term goals that respond to major changes in the community or that represent new initiatives by the church.
- Developing ecumenical and interfaith alliances and (as needed) relationships with non-religious organizations in order to seek community improvements or make a religious witness.
- Creating or strengthening community-wide groups to address community problems such as drug abuse, economic adversity, quality education, housing, etc.
- Starting a new congregation with such strategies as forming a lay nucleus, house-to-house visiting, surveys, public relations and mailing/web-based campaigns.
- Other relevant program descriptions aimed at the formation of seminarians who have:
- a deeply positive regard and expectation for the capacities of people and groups in the congregation,
- a moderate degree of assertiveness and decisiveness blended with a high degree of collaborative interest in others,
- a capacity to work with and anticipate conflict,
- a creativity that is vigorous yet well-managed and grounded,
- an ability to think theologically about situations in a way that moves toward transformational action,
- a savvy sense of networks of influence in congregations and communities, and
- a clear and consistent process of communicating and gathering feedback.