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Contextual Ministries

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Contact: Admissions
admissions@united.edu | 800.322.5817


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United Theological Seminary announces a new Leadership in Church Renewal Internship.  The purpose of the Church Renewal Internship is to provide to distinguished third-year students first-hand experience with lead pastors of fruitful churches. Selected interns will have opportunities to develop leadership skills and proficiency in extraordinary church renewal initiatives in the areas of worship and preaching, missions, evangelism, discipleship, digital ministry, spiritual formation, and church leadership. 

Student Internship:

application

  • Skills Learned

    Contextual Ministries, as a central element of United’s academic curriculum, encourages students to develop stronger skills in:

    Spiritual disciplines for a balanced life amidst the development of professional competence

    Articulation of clear learning goals and corresponding criteria for their accomplishment

    Proactive pursuit of healthy, well-bounded relationships for the support of ministry

    Entrepreneurial leadership and discernment of gifts as means of professional thriving in church and community ministries

    Critical theological reflection that speaks to the church/world, yet weaves concrete experience of the Spirit

    Engaging in ministry with people from other cultures

    Discernment of the taken-for-granted assumptions of one’s own culture

  • Requirements: Formation for Renewal/Integration

    Formation for Renewal/Integration

    Six credit hours of formation [PT 104 Ministerial Formation 1 (Fall) and PT 105 Ministerial Formation 2 (Spring)] must be taken in sequence by all students in the M.Div. and M.A.C.M. degree programs. There are two basic formats for completing this requirement: traditional (usually meeting on Wednesday mornings or Monday evenings) and hybrid (semester-long distance-learning modules plus mandatory Gathering Weeks, 1/semester).

    Students receive 3 semester hours of credit per 12-week semester module for:

    • Working at least 10 hours a week in a service-learning placement from September through May.

    • Meeting weekly (either online or face-to-face, depending upon format selected) during the 12-week modules of Fall and Spring semesters in professionally facilitated peer groups.

    • Using brief readings, plenary lectures, spiritual autobiographies, and case studies, MINgroups engage in professional identity formation and provide opportunities for students to grow in spiritual maturity and critical theological reflection.

    This formation is broadened with all-campus Word and Sacrament worship services—weekly for traditional students, and daily during Gathering week for hybrid students—followed by a communal meal. Liturgy, scripture, sacrament, table fellowship, small-group process, and supervisory discernment constitute the web within which skills of faithful attentiveness and theological reflection develop further toward faithful Christian leadership in Christ’s church.


    Integration

    Six credit hours of integration [PT 206 Integration 1 (Fall) and PT 207 Integration 2 (Spring)] must be taken in sequence after Formation 1 and 2 are completed by all students in the M.Div degree program. As with Formation, there are two basic formats for completing the coursework: traditional (usually meeting on Wednesday mornings or Monday evenings) and hybrid (semester-long distance-learning modules plus mandatory Gathering Weeks, 1/semester). For institutional and curricular reasons, the constitution of MINgroups for Integration will vary from those in Formation.

    Students receive 3 semester hours of credit per 12-week semester module for:

    • Working at least 10 hours a week in a service-learning placement from September through May.

    • Meeting weekly (either online or face-to-face, depending upon format selected)  during the 12-week modules of Fall and Spring semesters in professionally facilitated peer groups.

    • Using brief, advanced readings, plenary lectures, case studies, and theological composition, these MINgroups integrate with intention the diverse preparations of peers, ongoing theological coursework, and service-learning placement experiences into a working paper called a theological statement for ministry.

    Within the similar contexts of liturgy, scripture, sacrament, table fellowship, small-group process, and supervisory discernment, integration students take fledging steps into professional ministry discourse that bridges the settings of local congregation and/or agencies with those of denominational bodies of certification.

    A listing of recommended organizations/agencies and church sites is available through the Office of Contextual Ministries, and contains both voluntary (non-paying) positions and work-study compensatory positions in conjunction with Federal Work Study program guidelines.

    Each student works on-site at the service-learning placement and in regular monthly or bi-weekly conversations with a mentor (either on-site or in a nearby ministry site).

  • Community Settings

    The advantage of a community site placement is the student’s opportunity to experience in learning/teaching exchanges the diversity of ministry responsibilities within broader community.

    The breadth and depth of human needs to which faithful disciples must respond and from which the gifts and graces of attentive discipleship grow form a necessarily broad perspective for students’ critical theological reflection.

    Prison ministry, service in transitional housing ministries, community centers, shelters, and other organizations strengthen the students’ understandings of Christ’s preferential option for the other (marginalized, poor, or unseen) within the Spirit’s transformative work in us all.

  • Church Settings

    The advantage of a church site placement is an in-depth contextual introduction to the real workings of the local church.

    Approximately one hundred churches located in rural and urban areas participate in United’s Contextual Ministries program. Involvement in these settings provides students with opportunities to engage in a range of pastoral and specialized ministries that contribute to professional ministry identity and discernment of calling within the invitation to spiritual maturity.

    Particular to our United Methodist heritage, two placement options deserve further specification: student pastor and student associate appointments.

    A student pastor serves as the sole pastor of a church or charge. A student associate serves in a local church with an appointed or called pastor. Students in either placement position are paired with a mentor who assists the student with theological reflection, annual learning goals, periodic feedback, and evaluation.

    The appointee process for possible United Methodist Church student pastor and student associate placements begins in January or February of each year and includes required participation in short-term instruction sessions designed by the applicable annual conference to acquaint students with denominational policies and procedures.

    United students serving nearby churches often commute to campus daily; those situated in churches at some distance may find it more feasible to commute to campus weekly and use nearby housing options when on campus.