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VDS Concentrations:

Pastoral and Prophetic Congregational Leadership (MDiv Only)

This concentration is designed for individuals intending upon careers in congregational ministry. It provides an opportunity to delve more deeply into the literature, problems, practices of ministry.  Students in particular denominational traditions may be able to fulfill some of their ordination requirements in this concentration, but all students are challenged to think deeply about the intersectional dimensions of life in congregational community in twenty-first century North America.

Learning Goals:

  • Students will develop perspectives on contemporary ministry such that graduates will proceed into the further practice of ministry as thoughtful and engaged leaders.

  • Students will attain skills in the practice of ministry applicable to the practice of congregational leadership.

  • Students will engage in an additional unit of congregationally based field education in order to grow under supervision in the capacity for leadership and self-awareness of their own gifts.

Current Steering Committee: Jim Hudnut-Beumler (Convener), James Byrd , Stephanie Budwey , Forrest Harris , Jaco Hamman , Viki Matson , John McClure , Bruce Morrill , Joe Pennell

Praxis Options: An additional semester (or equivalent) experience in supervised ministry beyond field education is required of each MDiv. student in this concentration. This is to be negotiated with Ms. Matson or Ms. Stringer, as per the needs and vocational plans of the students and may include CPE, Advanced Field Education or Independent Study and Practicum in Field Education. (DIV 7902, 7903, 7904) 


Required Courses and Course Projections: 

Perspectives on Contemporary Ministry (3 or 6 hours) Courses in this grouping offer perspectives especially applicable to the understanding of practice of congregational ministry. These include the history of religious bodies and biblical interpretation used in congregations, the theology of particular traditions, the theory of approaches to ministry, pastoral lives, and worship.

Fall 2020: 

6733 Byrd America’s Revivals 

6801 Morrill Christian Praxis: Liturgy & Ethics 

6825 Morrill Rahner, Schillebeeckx, Metz 

7068 BMM Vocation: Composing a Life 


Spring 2021:

5255 JHB The Reformed Tradition 

6791 Byrd History of the United Methodist Tradition 

6843 Rieger Theology in the United Methodist Tradition 

7064 Hamman Humanity & Technology


Leadership in Contemporary Ministry (3 or 6 hours) Courses in this grouping offer both a grounding in their subject matter and leadership skills and development opportunities for pastoral leaders in the sources themselves.

Fall 2020:

5232 MMM Seminar in Leadership: Prophetic Ministry in Mainline Congregations 

5226 Harris Theology, Liberation, and Ministerial Formation 

5246 Pennel Leading the Congregation 

6904 McClure Ethical Approaches to Preaching 

6927 McClure New Perspectives on Preaching 

7000 Sheppard Pastoral Theology and Care 

7904 Matson / Stringer Clinical Pastoral Education* 


Spring 2021:

5230 MMM Seminar in Leadership: The Lives of Pastors 

6901 McClure Fundamentals of Preaching 

6925 McClure Theology & Preaching 

5350 Pennel United Methodist Polity & Practice 

7904 Matson / Stringer Clinical Pastoral Education*


Additional Requirements: 

The Congregational Ministry Practice Festivals 

In addition to the other requirements of the concentration, students participate in the annual day long congregational ministry practice festival offered for returning 2nd and 3rd year students by the concentration in areas of preparation for exercising leadership in a congregational setting. Morning and afternoon workshops are offered just before the formal opening of the fall term in such areas as: Reading Scripture in public worship; Leading effective meetings; How to read budgets and exercise financial management; Managing staff, evaluating personnel, hiring, firing; Protecting the vulnerable—safe congregational practices; Entering and reading congregational culture; The vocation of the pastor: Finding mentors and building a colleague group. The Concentration faculty team brings in other faculty and ministry practitioners to lead these workshops and a communal meal is held at mid-day. 


Senior Project Emphasis 

Students choosing this concentration are encouraged to pursue Senior Project topics related to some aspect of congregational leadership