FT 4001 Integrative Seminar I and II
Fall 2011, Spring 2012
Meets Saturdays 9/10/11, 2/4/12 and 4/7/12 from 9:00-12:00, 1:30-4:30 and online
Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles
For the version taught in 2011-12, students will learn methods of theological reflection useful for processing critical incidents in ministry. They will write up several incidents from their internships, select appropriate methods of theological reflection for each incident and lead one theological reflection with their peers (online, using Moodle threaded discussion), as well as participate in reflecting on their peers’ ministry incidents. They will then write a paper summarizing the entire process of theological reflection. This paper should also demonstrate learnings from throughout their theological studies as brought to bear on their ministry incident as well as student comment and critique. In the second part of the course (spring semester), students will reflect synthetically on their experience and learnings throughout their theological studies and prepare their personal theology of ministry in the form of a paper. It will be shared with their peers and further revised in light of this feedback. This completed paper may be submitted to the student’s ordaining body. Learning strategies include brief lectures, some reading and discussion, face to face and online presentation and discussion and critique of peers’ work, two papers (one per semester).
Required Reading: Fall Semester (purchase recommended)
Kinast, Robert L. Let Ministry Teach: A Guide to Theological Reflection. Collegeville MN: The Liturgical Press, 1996. ISBN: 0-8146-2374-3, $14.95.
Stone, Howard, and Duke, James. How to Think Theologicallly. Second Edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006. ISBN: 0-8006-3818-2, $16.00.
Required Reading: Spring Semester (purchase recommended)
Green, Joel: Seized by Truth: Reading the Bible as Scripture. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-687-02355-4, $22.00
Required Reading Spring Semester (locate through denominational channels):
Required Reading (these and other reflections on ministry will be posted on course Moodle page throughout the year):
Anderson, Ray S. “Making the Transition: From a Theology of Ministry to a Ministry of Theology,” in From Midterms to Ministry: Practical Theologians on Pastoral Beginnings, ed. Allan Hugh Cole. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008, pp. 27-38.
Buechner, Frederick, Telling Secrets. HarperSan Francisco, 1991, Chapter 1 “Dwarfs in the Stable.”
Liebert, Elizabeth. “Coming Home to Themselves: Women’s Spiritual Care,” in Through the Eyes of Women: Insights for Pastoral Care, ed. Jeanne Stevenson Moessner. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996, pp. 257-284.
Long, Thomas, “The Essential Untidiness of Ministry,” in From Midterms to Ministry: Practical Theologians on Pastoral Beginnings, ed. Allan Hugh Cole. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008, pp. 1-12.
Spahr, Jane, “And She Said, ‘Trust Me, Janie,’” in Called Out: The Voices and Gifts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Presbyterians, ed. Jane Spahr, Kathryn Poethig, Selisse Berry and Melinda McLain. Gaithersberg, MD, Chi Rho Press, 1995, pp. 90-95.
Townes, Emilie, “Ethics as an Art of Doing the Work our Souls Must Have,” in The Arts of Ministry: Feminist-Womanist Approaches, ed. Christie Cozad Neuger. Louisville, Westminster John Knox, 1996, pp. 143-161.
Course Learning Objectives:
1. (Fall Semester) Isolate significant moments in ministry and present them to peers in online discussions using the format provided.
2. (Fall Semester) Select an instrument (verbatim, case study, critical incident) that is appropriate to the experience and be able to explain that choice.
3. (Fall Semester) Demonstrate the ability to reflect constructively on ministry incidents from the perspective of one’s own feelings and responses, analysis of context, and biblical and theological resources
4. (Fall and Spring Semesters) Give and receive peer comment/critique that moves from individual reflection to reflection in community.
5. (Spring Semester) Develop, present and “defend” a personal theology of ministry.
(Both semesters) 1. Regular attendance, in both plenary days and online. Since plenary days (9/10/11; 2/4/12 and 4/7/12) represent the only times when we will be together in the same room, please plan on being at these days from beginning to end. Other class participation will take place asynchronously, so you can adjust your schedule to accommodate emergencies. Please respond to Moodle postings inside the window of time requested. If you must respond outside the window, please e-mail the instructor with the reason why and detail your timeline for catching up with the postings.
(Both semesters) 2. Complete the assigned reading and engage the content through Moodle discussion groups as noted on the course outline.
(Both Semesters) 3. Regular, respectful engagement with other students’ theological reflections and theologies of ministry.
(Fall Semester) 4. Write a theological reflection paper of 10 pages, to be postmarked no later than Dec. 12. Please send this paper to Elizabeth Liebert, SFTS, 105 Seminary Road, San Anselmo, CA 94960. This paper should include:
Excellent papers will also include:
(Spring Semester) 5. Write a paper detailing one’s own theology of ministry, to be postmarked no later than ______________. Send papers to Elizabeth Liebert, SFTS, 105 Seminary Road, San Anselmo, CA 94960. This paper is to be no more than 10 pages in length and should be concise, cohesive and clear and written in such a way that it can be shared with appropriate denominational and congregational persons in charge of preparation for ministry. A draft is to be presented to the class on April 7, and revised in light of feedback.
Grading: Pass Fail only. A pass can be earned by:
Expectations of on-line learning:
Much of our class time will be logged on-line. The learning experience requires some particular behaviors so that all can maximize the on-line learning community that we will build, and so that you can succeed maximally as a student in this kind of learning community.
First, you will have to take the initiative to log on to the course page and participate in the online learning regularly. You should expect to spend about the same amount of time in an on-line context as you were expected to spend in a face to face class, that is, about 3 hours of reading/writing/posting/online discussion for every hour of credit. Since this class is equivalent to 1.5 hours credit per semester, you should plan on an average of 6 hours per week or approximately 78 hours per semester (13weeks x 6 hours) in the various activities related to this course. Some weeks, for example, when you are hosting the theological reflection or presenting a draft of your theology of ministry, the hours will spike, and other weeks it will be less intensive, yet your weekly presence for your online colleagues will be crucial. We will agree upon windows during the week in which those postings should occur. But, since, other that our three Saturdays together, this class is asynchronous, you can post at whatever hour of the day or night works for you within that window.
Second, the role of the faculty member can shift in on-line education. While I will provide a traditional syllabus at the beginning of the term, the web is a medium that allows and maximizes the regular introduction of new material. In our class, this new material will come from you, your reflections on significant moments in ministry, and your responses as on-line members of a theological reflection group. As our ability to reflect together deepens, we will move (in the second semester) into more personal territory of the developing theologies of ministry of each of the members. The primary responsibility for the quality of the reflection lies with you, the members of the group. My role will be “around the edges,” noticing something here or there, underlining something someone else observed, occasionally posing a question. (You and I may also have “private” conversations via regular e-mail; think of these as the electronic equivalent of visiting me during my office hours.) Also think of the authors of our assigned readings as conversation partners in the developing web of reflective conversation. During our first class we will agree on minimum and maximum number of posts as a base line, the former number to nudge everyone to get into the conversation, the latter to discourage “running on at the mouth” or “hogging the air time.” Said positively, we are developing a habit of thoughtful, concise, and helpful comments to our colleagues—anything other than that is not posted.
Third, the issues of academic honesty are the same whether the medium is a traditional writing assignment or paper or an on-line posting. You are to be the sole author of your work. Use of another’s ideas should be accompanied by specific citations. The SFTS policies on plagiarism (that is, using, either verbatim or in paraphrased form, ideas of another without attribution) can be found in the Student Handbook. If others collaborate with you in your work, you should specifically note their contributions by name in the final product.
Appropriate posts in this class:
There will be three kinds of posts in our class. The first kind will be to collaborate on how the class is going, make tweaks to our kinds of participation and other sorts of housekeeping. Respond as the question asks. The second kind of posting is to respond to the readings. This kind of posting asks for the usual give and take of scholarly work. It will be in its own thread.
The third kind of post (and by far the most important for this class) relates to you and your colleagues’ nascent theological reflections. One colleague per week will post his/her ministry incident and first level reflection (directions below) in a separate thread from the readings thread. The appropriate of response here asks something quite different from much communication on line. We want, ideally, to honor the poster, who will likely be feeling a bit vulnerable, and help him/her move the theological reflection forward. By analogy, “contemplative listening,” a process that I have taught for the past 20 years, and which we will learn on our first day together, can offer a simple method:
First, stop before you open a theological reflection posting. Visualize the person posting, and hold him or her briefly in God’s light (do this any way that seems natural to you!). Then ask for the grace to respond attentively, helpfully, and gracefully to your colleague. In other words, you are framing this kind of post with prayer.
Second, read the posting. Stop again and hold that posting contemplatively. What catches your attention? What seems to be the emotion surrounding it, or in the teller? What do you think is the heart of the matter?
Third, carefully frame your response and step back and read and edit it before you press “submit.”
Fourth, once you have made your initial reply to a colleague’s ministry incident/reflection posting, the check back in a day or so and enter more freely into the ongoing dialogue that is set loose by your and others’ responses to the initial posting. The richness of the exchange, we hope, magnifies on behalf of the original poster.
Leading your theological reflection session on line:
Decide what kind of write up to do: verbatim, critical incident, or case (Kinast discusses these and we will go over them on the first day of class). Write up the incident in a word document using one of these three formats. Know why you selected the one you did.
Next, step back from the write up. Remember how you were feeling when the incident took place. Note how you are feeling now. Add a paragraph or two to your document about how you were/are implicated in that incident as revealed in your feelings, thoughts, internal arguments, actions, etc.
Now, step farther back and reflect on the context: of the situation, of the people in the situation. What does this suggest about the incident, how it unfolded, or what deeper meaning it might hold. Add another paragraph or two to your growing document.
Now you have the raw material upon which the theological and biblical reflection. Include your initial thoughts about Biblical themes or texts that might be relevant to this incident. What theological themes, doctrines or authors seem to illumine it? One or two paragraphs more go into your document.
On the appointed day for you to lead the theological reflection, upload your document into the Moodle thread. You colleagues will begin responding to you (using the format above). As they do, you respond as you are led to their comments. You do not have to agree with their perspectives or take their suggestions. Continue to monitor and respond throughout the week set aside for your theological reflection. The more you can keep the responses coming and lively, the more richness you will have to deepen your theological reflection and to enhance your final write up.
In the next weeks, return to your original word doc and add to your reflection periodically, refining sections as your insight grows. As you do this, your document is gradually turning into your theological reflection paper.
One to two weeks before the paper is due, begin to add to your paper the final points listed in #4 of Student Requirements, namely, clear rationale for the form of reflection you selected, a clear and sufficiently detailed description of the ministry incident, your own feelings and responses at the time and now, your selection of the “heart of the matter,” the biblical resources you bring to bear on the incident, the theological resources you bring to bear on the incident (these should show development from your original foray into them!—this should be about half the paper), how your practice of ministry might change as a result of the reflection, implications for preaching and for the development of your own constructive theology. Use foot or endnotes to cite both your colleagues and outside resources you cite. Voila! A finished paper, gradually written over the course of the semester.
Confidentiality in this class:
Confidentiality of the final paper:
Possible weekly schedule:
Reading Assignment: Read Kinast Ch 1-3 (addresses the materials discussed today; Post response to reading thread as soon after Sat class as possible starting with the questions posed on Moodle. Then begin readings for next week immediately.
Week of September 19: Understanding what theological reflection is sufficiently to launch ourselves.
Reading Assignment: Kinast, Ch 4-5
Week of September 26: Theological reflection presenter: Beth (this will give us all a chance to practice on me!)
Reading Assignment: Kinast Ch. 6-7
Week of October 3: Theological reflection presenter: __________________________
Week of October 10: Theological reflection presenter: _________________________
Week of October 17: Theological reflection presenter: _________________________
Week of October 24: (Reading week: Nothing new this week…catch your breath, go back and pick up threads, work on your own theological reflection document, get ahead on the reading).
Week of October 31: Theological reflection presenter: ________________________
Week of November 7: Theological reflection presenter: _______________________
Week of November 14: Theological reflection presenter: ______________________
Week of November 21: Theological reflection presenter: ______________________
Week of November 28: Theological reflection presenter: ______________________OR design topic as needed
Week of December 5: Post completed Theological Reflection Paper on line. Critique one other paper. Receive critiques of one other student on your paper, and adjust your theological reflection as appropriate.
December 12: THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION PAPERS to be postmarked today.