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STH TC 836: Race, Gender, and Ethnicity in Church and Society
This course examines the relation between race, gender, and ethnicity from the perspective of different multicultural identities and theological understandings, evaluating how religious structures have constructed these relations and challenged these dynamics. Analyzing various church contexts and social constructions, we will aim to re-evaluate diverse theoretical and experimental discussions among different ethnic groups in a global context as well as in the American context. This course introduces students to of the multiple dynamics present between race, gender, and ethnicity in various church contexts such as White/African American/Asian/Asian American/Hispanic/other immigrant churches and multicultural congregations. It investigates how church life and ministry interact with sociopolitical and cultural structures and how these processes impact people's everyday lives. The course analyzes the issues of race, gender/sex, body, age, and class in the North American context seeking also to understand colonial and post-colonial structures within American society and beyond.
STH TC 837: Vocation, Work and Faith
Who am I called to become? What am I called to do? What are my gifts and where will they be recognized and of service? These kinds of vocational questions are fundamental to our lives. The course seeks to open up reflection, study, and dialogue about vocation, work, and spirituality in religious traditions and in our own life experience. Work and vocation are often connected. Work too is a crucial religious question in contemporary society. Work exerts a powerful--and often unrecognized--influence on human beings. It can support life, develop talents, elicit creativity, and enable people to contribute to the common good. Work also can demean human beings, undermining their dignity, perpetuating unjust structures, overpowering values, and crowding out other important spheres of life. Labor issues are important concerns for faith communities and faith-based community organizations. This course explores vocation and work as theological/spiritual issues, including implications for ministry. We will explore themes such as: work as spiritual practice or challenge; labor and justice issues; discerning vocation; creativity; Sabbath; "time poverty"; and work-life balance. The course involves site visits, vocational mentoring, seminar presentations, and individual research/ministry projects.
STH TC 838: Church Renewal
In every era, Christians must rethink what it means to be the church in light of the Christian witness and given the unique challenges and opportunities of our particular situation. This course explores (1) what it means to be the church as an embodied witness to the reign of God in our present culture and (2) the various strategies and resources upon which Christian leaders might draw in guiding congregations through processes of formation, change, and revitalization.
STH TC 839: Suffering and Healing
This course will examine the understanding of human suffering in personal and communal space and explore the possibilities of healing in church and ministry. Through a range of readings, films, case studies, and a church or non-profit organization site visit, students will critically reflect on various conditions of human suffering including sickness, joblessness, homelessness, racial prejudices, immigration issues and others. The course will employ interdisciplinary study methods, from pastoral/practical theology to cultural studies. Building from these experiences and reflections, students will work to develop practical ministries that aim to restore and heal individuals and communities.
STH TC 842: Urban Ministry Models for the 21st Century: Creative Ministry in Context
This course will examine urban new church starts and congregational restarts that engage in ministry in their settings. Participants will learn tools and methods for contextual analysis and explore models of leadership for 21st century ministry. Most course sessions will occur at urban congregations throughout New England. One particular area of focus will be ways in which global migration has impacted ministry in these settings.
STH TC 844: Classics in Christian Spirituality
This course serves as an introduction to the study of Christian spirituality through in-depth reading of selected classics in Christian spirituality as well as secondary source scholarship in the discipline. We will delve into texts by early monastics and visionary medieval mystics; look anew at Protestant hymns and poetry; go deeper into Ignatian discernment; and engage the spiritualities of Latin American liberation theologians and African American women. This interdisciplinary seminar opens up reflection on spirituality and theology; spirituality and history; spirituality, gender, race, and ethnicity; spirituality, poetics, and autobiography; spirituality and ministry; and spiritual practice. Students are encouraged to integrate the material with an eye toward their own spiritual lives and vocations. The course will integrate music, art, and poetry to offer a fuller engagement with spiritual classics.
STH TC 845: Parish Preaching
The central, crucial role of preaching in a parish setting involves engagement with other congregational ministries and with the needs and resources of the larger community. This course is intended as a second level, advanced preaching course, with emphasis on the context of preaching. The course offers multiple opportunities to develop and preach sermons. Attention is given both to regular Sunday preaching and also to particular sermons for various occasions: special events, Stewardship Sunday, funerals and weddings, Advent and Lent, national observances (Fourth of July, Mothers' Day, New Year's, Thanksgiving, other), denominational requirements, and civic addresses. The interactive engagement of the preaching ministry with parish ministry as a whole is the focus of the course.
STH TC 847: Faith and Film
This course uses the medium of film as an avenue for reflection upon the meaning and truth of the central doctrines of the Christian church as expressed in the historic Apostle's Creed. The course uses a broad cross-section of film genres to open up new and creative windows for understanding and communicating the Christian faith in contemporary culture and also assists the student in thinking critically about film from a Christian theological perspective.
STH TC 849: Narrative Sermons
In this course, students will learn approaches to preaching narratively. By the end of the course, students will also begin to integrate their homiletical practice with their own emerging narrative theology of preaching.
STH TC 851: Preaching and Worship in the African-American Traditions
Study of the preaching, prayer, and music in African-American churches.
STH TC 852: Spirituality and Leadership
Changing times in church and society challenge our understandings about and practices of leadership. This course will examine the nexus of leadership and spirituality. We will examine theories about leadership, both secular and church-based, focus particularly on the systemic nature of leadership. We will also consider the importance of the 'being' of the leader, not just the 'doing'. The quality of a leader's life and work can be significantly enhanced by being supported with spiritual practices. Those spiritual practices may involve the leader as well as individuals and groups with whom the leader engages. Students will be given opportunity to reflect on biblical models of leadership, to explore a leadership in a contemporary setting, as well as to learn, experience, and practice spiritual disciplines for leaders and those with whom they lead.
STH TC 854: Leadership in Times of Change
Although it sounds like an oxymoron, change is a constant, whether in the context of the individual, the family, the local church, the university, the nation, or the world. How a leader defines, understands and deals with change, both personally and in the leadership setting, is important both for the leader and those in the organization or group. Leadership for change may emerge from anywhere in the group/organization. Exploring theories and practices from both secular and church-based resources, students will seek to deal with these questions such as: What is the nature of change? How does our understanding of God shape our understanding of change? How does our understanding of change shape our understanding of God? Are there healthy ways to lead in times of transition and change? Are there leadership patterns and practices that are counterproductive in times of transition and change?
STH TC 857: Spiritual Resources and Disciplines
An introduction to Christian spiritual practices and traditions. The course explores topics such as prayer, lectio divina, discernment, spiritual guidance, justice, and hospitality, with attention to the importance of spiritual practice as the ground of ministry in diverse contexts. Students will develop their own Rule of Life as part of the work of the course.
STH TC 861: Theologies of Church Music
The Church, throughout its history, has sought to clarify its relationship to culture. In particular, is the Church to accommodate its worship to culture or avoid adoption of cultural forms? The relationship of culture and worship will be explored in this course from the angle of the historical Church's use of music. How have the Church's theologians defined the role of music in the Church? What are the most appropriate musical forms for use in the Church? These issues will be examined with an eye to discussing and evaluating contemporary Christian musical expressions.
STH TC 862: The Liturgical Year
The historical development of a Christian calendar of both weekly and annual cycles. Descriptions of related liturgical and catechetical customs and contemporary calendar revision.
STH TC 863: Reading and Writing Rites of Passage
An examination of historical, theological, and pastoral aspects of the occasional offices that address life's passages and crises: birth, adolescence, Christian marriage, sickness and death, and Christian burial. An ecumenical and international approach will be taken in studying both historic and contemporary rites.
STH TC 867: Theology and Popular Culture
This course places the Christian gospel into dialogue with a variety of expressions of North American popular culture (film, television, art, music, entertainment, sports, etc.) in an effort to understand the complex relationship between the two. The course takes up at with this dialogue against the wider background of the study of religion and popular culture and by exploring the nature of self and transcendence, morality and the spiritual quest as those are constructed and configured within popular culture. The course asks to what extent contemporary expressions of Christian worship, preaching, Ministry, evangelism, and spirituality might better engage popular culture and to what extent these expressions already reflected the values, patterns, and practices of popular culture.
STH TC 868: Worship in the Anglican and Wesleyan Traditions
A study of the historical, theological, liturgical, and sociocultural influences which have shaped the worship patterns of the major American denominations claiming a Wesleyan heritage.
STH TC 869: Prophetic Preaching, Pastoral Ministry, and Social Change
This course is designed to help students wrestle with several central issues around prophetic preaching in contemporary Christian churches: the relationships of prophetic preaching to the gospel, to the Bible, to the social-political context, and to pastoral ministry generally. Since the course is designed to be a seminar, students will be expected to wrestle with these issues not only in class but also through a sermon and a public message. By the end of the course, students should be able to develop their own vision for prophetic preaching in a way that integrates the above concerns by moving from a specific Biblical text to a sermon as well as a public message in light of a situation. Pre-requisite TC715 Intro to Preaching or its equivalent.
STH TC 871: Spiritual Foundations for Peace Building
Through reading and reflection on biographies and autobiographies of national and international peace-builders, students will look at how the cultural contexts and spiritual practices of the peace-builder influenced their peace- building work. The focus will be on peace-builders beginning in the 20th century with Gandhi, King, Chavez, Day, Deming, and others. Students will also explore their own contexts and how those contexts impact their perspectives on both spiritual formation and confliction transformation.