Update on My DMin Program

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

AND:

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.

Forest Grove Christian Church – What We Believe

As a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) we are committed to embracing unity with all Christians in our common affirmation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). God calls us together at the Lord’s Supper where Christ offers us a tangible experience of God’s grace. We believe that together we are called to study the scriptures, using reason and the best scholarship together with humble and prayerful spirits.

We trace our history to the restoration movement of the early 19th century. In response to the divisions then existing within Christianity, this movement sought to find the unity among all Christians for which Jesus prayed in John 17. This quest of faith leads us to accept diversity among ourselves in both belief and practice. By grace through faith are we able to live out this calling.

In covenant relationship with other Disciples congregations, we join together in our particular expression of faith. The Christian Church professes the following affirmations:


We are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),
a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.
As a part of the one Body of Christ,
we welcome all to the Lord’s Table
as God has welcomed us.

Our Mission is:

To be and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ,
witnessing, loving and serving
from our doorsteps “to the ends of the earth.”      (Acts 1:8)

Our Vision is:

To be a faithful, growing church,
that demonstrates true community,
deep Christian spirituality and
a passion for justice.                                               (Micah 6:8)
The Affirmation of Faith of
the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):

As members of the Christian Church,
We confess that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of the living God,
and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world.
In Christ’s name and by his grace
we accept our mission of witness
and service to all people.
We rejoice in God,
maker of heaven and earth,
and in God’s covenant of love
which binds us to God and to one another.
Through baptism into Christ
we enter into newness of life
and are made one with the whole people of God.
In the communion of the Holy Spirit
we are joined together in discipleship
and in obedience to Christ.
At the Table of the Lord
we celebrate with thanksgiving
the saving acts and presence of Christ.
Within the universal church
we receive the gift of ministry
and the light of scripture.
In the bonds of Christian faith
we yield ourselves to God
that we may serve the One
whose kingdom has no end.
Blessing, glory, and honor
be to God forever. Amen.

(from the Preamble to the Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)