Ministry in Church and Society
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STH TC 825: Prayer and Social Engagement
The seminar will address the relationship between prayer and social engagement. Prayer and social engagement often are separated entirely, or wedded uncritically. In this course, students will seek to deepen their prayer lives while thinking critically about the social situation. They will wrestle with the multiple theological questions surrounding prayer and social engagement. Topics will be approached using selected case studies from international contexts. By delving into the cases, students will see different models for how prayer can inspire a social vision, cultivate a social conscience, respond to social crisis, ground people's dignity, and promote reconciliation.
STH TC 828: Women's Theologies and Ministry
This course will examine the reality of women in ministry, critically evaluating how women's identities and roles have been structured in Christian contexts. It will also carefully analyze how these identities and roles can be re-evaluated and how women's ministry can be envisioned in this modern ministerial context. Drawing on different women's theological perspectives and identities, the course will focus mainly on women and ministry in the areas of biblical studies, worship, preaching, and pastoral care and counseling.
STH TC 829: Spiritual Autobiographies
In the course, students will explore classic and contemporary spiritual autobiographies. These autobiographies reveal the diverse paths of religious seekers, the crises and epiphanies that became focal points of meaning and revelation. Students will learn about the practices of faith that sustained and challenged religious people from Augustine to Teresa of Avila to Tolstoy. Through close, empathetic, and critical examination of the texts, students will reflect on their own spiritual journeys and identities. They also will engage first-hand in the crafting of spiritual autobiography, and students will have the opportunity to work intensively in small groups throughout the writing and sharing process. Throughout the course, students will explore potential uses of spiritual autobiography as pathways of discernment and growth in congregational and retreat settings, small faith groups, spiritual formation and companionship.
STH TC 833: Sung Faith
From the beginning, the Church has sung its faith. In this course the doctrine of the Trinity is the focus of an examination of "lyrical theology." Hymn texts constitute the primary documents; secondary texts by writers from the patristic period to the present guide reflection and analysis. The goals of the course are: (1) to increase the appreciation for hymn texts as theological statements; (2) to gain a deeper knowledge of the mystery of the triunity of God; and (3) to promote a greater awareness of the doctrine of the Trinity as crucial to the faith of the Church and central its life.
STH TC 835: Evangelism and Contemporary Cultures
This course explores the practice of bearing faithful, visible, and embodied witness to God's commonwealth in contemporary contexts and cultures. The course covers the biblical, historical, and theological foundations of evangelism, its practice within congregational life, and contextual strategies.
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.