Theological Field Education Director Meg Lavin reports about some innovations in the Master of Divinity Program.
The Master of Divinity program offers theological and professional preparation for ministry. As a core component in this process, Theological Field Education strives to integrate the activities of thinking and acting theologically. It is based on the assumption that not only should theology inform pastoral practice, but that lived practice should inform theology.
Supervised ministry placements are central to the curriculum at Regis College because they are the intersection in theological education between academic study and the practices of ministry. Supervised ministry provides divinity candidates with an opportunity to gain professional competence, build a framework for raising practical theological issues, acquire a comprehensive and realistic view of the church and its ministries, and develop a ministerial identity.
Theological Field Education is based on some clear educational assumptions. The educational methodology is adult-centred and experiential (actions in ministry are then reflected on theologically). It assumes that individuals are responsible for their own learning. It acknowledges that each person brings to the learning process his or her own particular history and set of experiences. Theological Field Education is based on the model of “educational partnership.” Participants are invited to discover and celebrate their own gifts and to respond to supervisory feedback intended to enhance leadership in ministry.
LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT IN A MINISTRY PLACEMENT
LEVEL 1: OBSERVER MINISTRY PLACEMENT
Characteristics: No experience, or limited experience in ministry.
Purpose: To familiarize the MDiv candidate with the context and dynamics of ministry.
Necessary Skills: Observing, listening, reflecting, reporting.
Requirements: 2-3 weeks observing and dialoguing with a practitioner in a chosen field of ministry.
Outcomes: A written report of the experience using the general methodology of analysis provided in “Contextual Analyis of a Theological Field Education Placement.” (Appendix F, Theological Field Education Handbook, Regis College.)
LEVEL 2: INTERN MINISTRY PLACEMENT
Characteristics: Some experience in ministry.
Purpose: To enable the MDiv candidate to gain personal confidence, and to develop a pastoral sense of identity, authority, and mission.
Necessary Skills: Self-directed learning; good listening skills; willingness to learn from others and to collaborate with others.
Requirements: Engagement in a supervised ministry placement.
Outcomes: To develop a process for reflecting upon one’s own ministry, using the contextual analysis and case-study method.
LEVEL 3: RESIDENT MINISTRY PLACEMENT
Characteristics: Extensive ministry experience.
Purpose: To provide the MDiv candidate with the opportunity to animate a project in a chosen ministry placement.
Necessary Skills: A high level of self-motivation, and organizational and collaborative skills.
Requirements: A pre-requisite for this level is a letter of reference from a previous supervisor who has worked closely with the candidate and can attest to their ministry experience. In collaboration with the Theological Field Education Director and the ministry personnel of a chosen site, the candidate will be required to develop and execute a project that will enhance the site’s services. This must be a project that can be sustained by the chosen site and not solely dependent on the skills and continuted presence of the candidate alone.
Outcomes: A contextual analysis and written assessement of the placement.
PLEASE NOTE: Regarding the above three levels: If a candidate begins in Level 1 then it is expected that they will move through Level 2. A candidate might also begin in Level 2, and do part of his/her practicum in Level 3.
PEER GROUP MEETINGS
These meeting are designed to prepare candidates for their placement, and to assist them in theological reflection after completion of their placement.
Practical Theology Seminar (0.5 Credit for RGF 3040)
A seminar for first year MDiv candidates to develop the skills of theological reflection through which to reflect on personal faith development, a call to ministry, and an integration of personal experience and theology into a development of ministerial practice. Seminar participation, personal reflection papers, a final synthesis paper as well as workshops in pastoral skills, liturgy, and personal identity will help to facilitate formation.
Theological Reflection Seminar (0.5 Credit for RGF 3040)
This seminar follows or runs concurrently with the Theological Field Education ministry placement. The process of theological reflection enables the student to understand and assess their ministry in the context of personal faith and the theology they are studying in the total program. The remainder of the seminar is spent in theological reflection on case studies of ministry events experienced by seminar participants.
Those interested in learning more about the integration of ministry and systematic theology may wish to consult Professor Lavin’s course websites: