With gratitude for the support of the Elders, Board and congregation, I started my Doctor of Ministry studies at Perkins School of Theology at SMU in June of 2012 with two 3 week classes that ran concurrently, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Two major papers were due a week later.
In the Fall 2012 semester I have been enrolled in a course entitled Feminist, Womanist and Mujerista Theologies – the subtitle is simply “Women’s Theologies”. The primary focus of the course is on what develops when women do theology from their own point of view, rather than simply receiving without critical reflection what a male dominated church hands to them. The bible was almost entirely written by men, the cannon formed by men, and the primary interpreters of the bible for Christian theology have almost all been men. It is widely accepted that women and men experience the world differently, view their situations differently, even use language differently. So what happens when these differences are honored in the tasks of listening to scripture and doing theology. I explained in a sermon series during August how I was choosing to enter this class experience as a way to develop my ability to listen, hear, and ask questions of others (Learning to Listen ~ Learning to Hear, Learning to Ask Questions, and another related post about my school work and our church conversations: Learning to Listen revisited). My final paper for the class is entitled “Evangelicalism and Feminism in Conversation” and it explores the ways in which women find their voice and describe their experiences from within an evangelical church context.
My next classes are January 8-18. I am scheduled to take:
Evangelism and Discipleship for a Missional Church (DM9374) – 8:30 to 11:30 AM. This course provides a foundation for the theory and practice of evangelism and disciple formation in congregations grounded in a missional ecclesiology. With Dr. Elaine A. Heath
The Ministry of Spiritual Guidance (DM9368) – 1:30 to 4:30 PM. Spiritual Guidance is not simply a dimension of parish ministry. It is the key to recovering the mission of the church. This course offers a diagnosis of the situation faced by the church, the theological basis for change, the vocational assumptions necessary to that change, and conversations about the ways in which those changes might be effected. With Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt
I believe that these two classes will be important aids for us as a congregation as we think about deepening our ministry of discipleship here, including our conversation on the scope and sequence of our teaching ministry. The course on evangelism will help us to think about having spiritual conversations with our neighbors as a way to open space for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to share Christ with those around us.
Speaking of preaching, my plan is to take Preaching from the Bible: Paul (PR8303) on Thursdays from 9-11:20am with Dr. Brad Braxton. As I noted last spring in my sermon on March 4th, I have been in an intentional season of reflection on my preaching. I have been preaching weekly since November of 1997. This class should provide a chance to both reflect on my present approach, as well as exploring other approaches.
The thesis phase of my doctoral work should begin next summer and take 1-2 years.
I began this Doctor of Ministry program because I believe in the ministry of the church in this community and wanted to further my education to strengthen that ministry. I believe in what we are doing here. I believe in the promised future of this congregation.
We may be like Zechariah and Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren when God moved in their lives to bring them a son, and through them prepare the way of the Lord. We may be like Israel who groaned in Babylon for what felt like far too long. It has always been this way for God’s people. When things seemed most bleak, God appeared. Jesus brought Lazarus from the tomb, though Mary and Martha had all but given up hope.