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Our Students Speak

What Current and Former Students Have to Say About Field Education

"Field Education becomes our first opportunity to practice our "call to ministry" in a structured setting. We become accountable to our placement by engaging in reflection upon practical ministry. In our discussion groups, we open ourselves to our peers for counsel, affirmation, direction, and support. Instead of "arguing" another theological concept, students are fashioning the style of ministry which will shape their future careers in the community."

Sharman Hartson
Disciples of Christ
M.Div. 2002

"Field Education allowed me to experience what it means to be both minister and theologian in a safe environment. I can't explain how or why or when, but I became a minister through my field education experiences. Because I had to conscientiously think theologically about my experiences, I developed a real sense of what ministry is and of Christ's presence with me."

Katie Treadway,
Cumberland Presbyterian
M.Div. 2001

"The Field Education experience is invaluable preparation for ministry. The cycle of work in ministry, reflective writing and group discussion is both formative and uplifting. Learn to do these for the health of yourself and those you serve."

Rev. Steve Thomas
Presbyterian Church, USA
M. Div. 2000

"I arrived at VDS knowing that I was called to parish ministry, as I loved Field Ed for its practicality in the midst of an otherwise very academic environment. Now that I am 'out in the world', I realize that the best thing about Field Ed was the intentional community of colleagues with which to share struggled, victories, and other evidences of God's grace along the road of daily ministry."

Rev. Gail Davidson
Disciples of Christ
M. Div. 2000

"Field Education forces you out of the ivory tower and into the real community. All those ideas you discuss in class are actually put to use and you discover for yourself which work and which don't. Amazing things happen while reflecting on one's field education experience…"

Karla Van Zee
M.T.S. 2000

"Field Education was an invaluable laboratory where I could apply what I was learning in the classroom. In three different placements, I learned an incredible amount about myself as a person, but more importantly, about myself as a minister. Now that I'm working in parish ministry, I'm often reminded of case studies I did for Field Ed and drawing on the insights that came through my own reflections and through group discussion. More than anything, though, I learned to ground my ministry in theological reflection, a practice that still helps to keep me on God's task, instead of my own."

Rev. Jane Ellen Nickell
United Methodist
M. Div. 2000

"Field Education has been, without doubt, the most theologically formative piece of my career at VDS. It is the place where, optimally, a bridge is built between intellectual and practical theology. Even as I consider alternatives to parish ministry for my career, I learned from working in a church that no matter where I am or what I end up doing I will be intentional in living my theological convictions. It was a world-widening, life-changing experience for me."

Erika Callaway
United Methodist
M. Div. 2002


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