Ministry in Church and Society
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STH TC 817: Introduction to Christian Worship
An introduction to the spirit and structure of Christian worship. Word, sacraments, calendar, music, and pastoral offices are analyzed and described in terms of their relevance to congregational life, spirituality, catechesis, and mission. Prerequisites: STH TF 701 and STH TF 702
STH TC 818: Writing for Public Worship
The course explores the relationship between the languages of worship/prayer and faith/belief; enables the student to develop foundations and skills for writing prayers, liturgies, and other ritual resources for public worship; and fosters theological/liturgical/pastoral evaluation of the liturgical texts and practices used by faith communities. This course requires instructor's approval for all doctoral students.
STH TC 819: The Sacraments: Rites and Theologies
Contemporary study of the sacraments brings together ritual studies, liturgical history, the history of dogma, and systematic reflection. This course examines the baptismal and eucharistic rites of the Church, both past and present, along with theological rationales of and commentaries on them offered by ecclesiastic writers of the patristic, medieval, Reformation, and modern periods.
STH TC 821: The Gospel and Empire
This course explores the relationship between Christianity and empire both historically and theologically. While the broader context for the course is the mutual shaping of empire and Christianity as the Christian movement has spread throughout the world, Cuba will provide a case study for reflecting on how this shaping has taken place on that island in relation to particular imperial influences.
STH TC 823: Spiritual Guidance in the Christian Tradition
Are you seeking a "word of life"? Do you hunger to know more about the wisdom of Christian spiritual traditions? Do you feel called to grow in your ability to guide others? In this course students will explore selected writings from the Christian tradition -- both classic and contemporary. They will read the pithy sayings of the early desert abbas and ammas, the gentle counsel of Francis de Sales, the spiritual teaching of John Wesley and his mother Susanna, and the insights of the Russian pilgrim who wanted to pray without ceasing. They will analyze the various theological commitments reflected in these authors' spiritual teachings, and place them in their historical contexts. Then they will move to contemporary texts about the practice of spiritual guidance, addressing concerns such as spiritual direction of women, group spiritual direction, prayer, and cross-cultural spiritual guidance.
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 846: Postcolonial Theology
This course provides critical postcolonial lenses through which students will understand postcolonial theology and explore how persons and communities exercise theological practices in postcolonial contexts considering culture, race, gender/sex, religious traditions, and religious communities. Through analyzing various concepts of postcolonial theologies and investigating historical sociocultural religious practices in postcolonialism, class, race and sex/gender, students will critically reflect on challenging conditions of power and privilege and engage with the complexities of postcolonial theological practices. Building on these studies and reflections, students will gain a keen sense of different concepts of postcolonial theology and its practices interculturally, and develop their own approaches to understand the postcolonial dynamics in their varied contexts.
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.