Ministry in Church and Society

  • 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.
  • STH TC 872: Animals, Theology and Healing
    Explores various dimensions of divine/human/animal interactions, but with a focus upon healing relationships. The course ranges across the areas of theology, spirituality, liturgy, pastoral care, history, psychology, mind/body medicine (stress reduction), and public policy. While Christian theologies of creation and stewardship/ecology are central, the approaches of other religions and their practices will also be examined for purposes of comparison (and perhaps dialogue). J-Term Course, Jan. 9-13, 17 (9am-4pm)
  • STH TC 878: Sabbath: Theology and Practice
    This course explores Sabbath keeping as a central practice of faith and a core practice of transformative religious leadership. Drawing upon Jewish and Christian traditions, we will study theologies and practices of Sabbath keeping and reflect upon their meaning in contemporary contexts. Topics include Sabbath keeping and spiritual formation, Sabbath and "time poverty", Sabbath and the Lord's Day, Sabbath keeping as a dimension of pastoral excellence, Sabbath keeping as countercultural practice, Sabbath and ecological stewardship, and Sabbath and social justice. The course includes contextual site visits in an effort to learn across traditions. Students will be encouraged to cultivate a practice of Sabbath keeping throughout the semester and are invited to draw upon music and the creative arts in their practice and reflections. As the culmination of the course they will have the opportunity to do a substantial research paper or design a practical theological project relevant to their own community and context of leadership.
  • STH TC 879: Preaching Apocalyptic Texts
    This seminar helps students gain competence in exegetical and homiletical approaches that aid preaching apocalyptic texts in the New Testament (e.g., Revelation). The course does so by focusing on the literary matrix of first-century apocalyptic literature and and how that literature can aid students in developing in- class sermons that reflect its unique rhetoric and form.
  • STH TC 890: New Church Development
    The planting and birthing of new congregations requires careful planning, innovative leadership, organizational savvy, a strong spiritual base, and endless creativity. This course is a study in the theology and practice of starting new congregations and covers such topics as contextual worship, organizational development, finance and facilities, exegeting a community, and creative community outreach. Coursework includes specific congregational development research projects.
  • STH TC 897: Our Lady of Guadalupe as Resource for El Pueblo
    This course will consider the contextual dynamics of power and agency that contributed to the establishment of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a powerful symbol for diverse communities across chronological and geographical boundaries. Students will explore narratives, rituals, faith practices, and visit historical sites in Mexico. Facilitated through a protestant feminist /Mujerista perspective, this course will be a travel seminar to Mexico and run in a seminar style with the instructor as facilitator for critical engagement of readings, sharing of experiences, and contextual deconstruction/construction of methods, theories and 'official" historical understandings.
  • STH TC 898: Blessings, Black Power, and the New Black Church
    This course explores the concept of church renewal through specific reference to "the Black Church" in the United States. The course investigates the economic, political, social, and cultural contexts of black communities and identifies the theological and practical challenges that these shifting contexts pose for the ongoing ministry of black churches. In light of these contextual challenges, students will assess the adequacy of diverse theological visions for the future of the Black Church. The course pays special attention to the ways in which "blessings" and "black power" function as dialectic theological emphases which both aid and constrain theological and ministerial reflection on the nature and mission of black churches. The course queries whether the present moment can birth novel theological paradigms for a "new Black Church" or whether "the Black Church" as a coherent tradition and identifiable ecclesial entity is dead.
  • STH TC 899: Practicing Justice
    This course explores the nature of social justice and its place within the mission of the church by: a) surveying the varied conceptions, contexts, and practical contours of justice in contemporary societies; and b) investigating key theological and religio-critical perspectives on the historical, biblical, and theological foundations of social justice as a constitutive attribute of Christian community and Christian ministry. Upon this examination, the church's pursuit of social justice emerges as a multifaceted practice that disturbs traditional distinctions between the prophetic and priestly dimensions of the church's identity. Through careful attention to the required texts, as well as the conduct of student research and constructive reflection, course participants are encouraged to rediscover the practice of seeking justice as an art of ministry -- as a dance through which prophetic and priestly activities engage one another as partners. (MDiv Practicing Faith Section)
  • STH TC 906: DMin Preaching Course
    This course is designed with occasional and situational preaching in view. It presupposes the probability of both recurring and unique situations in which the gospel (the "good news," not the final lection in the ecumenical order) must be preached in a way both clear and arresting. To deal with this presupposition, the course will deal with preaching the gospel when some situational feature of congregational or organizational life demands attention. Indirectly, it is also an exploration of theological method. In whatever situation, the preaching task will be viewed as a theological one, i.e., as an opportunity for discerning the import of and articulating the gospel anew in a given situation. Thus students will be equipped to be "theologians of the Word" who can interpret situations from a variety of viewpoints, evaluate the usefulness of various tools for preaching in light of the gospel and then employ them fruitfully. In order to do this, we will work on the following tools: 1. Bringing to critical awareness our own understandings of the gospel, 2. Developing skills and resources as contextual theologians in residence, , and 3. Developing skills and resources as homiletical exegetes of situations. As a result students should develop greater pastoral sensitivity, rhetorical savvy and think-on-your-feet theological acumen while preparing for preaching in a context in which transformational theological leadership needs to be exercised.
  • STH TC 908: Spirituality and Activism in the African American Traditions
    Attentive to historical and cultural factors, this course explores the expression of spirituality within the cultural traditions of enslaved African people in America, their progeny and Black people who migrated to this continent. We will ask how/if spirituality is unique from religion and in what ways, if any, it influences the work of social justice activists. To inform our work, this course will draw upon historical analysis of leading Black scholars, interviews from social justice activists from the 60s to present day. Throughout the semester we will reflect upon the operating theologies at work in Black churches, communities and civil rights leadership. The role of activism to the work of leaders within African American communities is also a staple of this course.
  • STH TC 909: Spiritual Autobiographies
    Participants in this course will read selected spiritual autobiographies in order to gain an understanding of the varieties of religious experience and the interrelationship between spirituality, theology, and historical and cultural context. We will examine the nature of religious experience and the difficulties in translating this experience into language. Moreover, we will explore the important issue of how spirituality relates to the institutional churches, and the various shapes spirituality takes outside these institutions. Through close, empathetic, and critical examination of the texts, participants also will reflect on their own spiritual journeys and spiritual identities. They will prepare written analyses of course texts and, by the end of the course, will write a portion of their own spiritual autobiography.