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

Course Description
The supervised ministry seminar is the continuation and culmination of the Integrative Studies component of the MDiv program. It is designed to support and guide students during the course of internships at arranged ministry sites. This 3 unit year-long course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis. In this course, students engage in theological reflection at the intersection of theory and practice. Students contemplate, challenge, expand, and explore philosophies and
activities of ministry in that palpable "middle" space, where connections between theory and
practice are made and remade. Reflective practitioners think and live in this critical space where activity is quieted for meaning-making and theology is alerted to the sounds of activity.

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).

Supervised practice of ministry, completed or concurrent, 40 hours of MDiv completed. Limited to SFTS/SC teachout students.

Elizabeth Liebert, SFTS. I can be reached for e-mail consultation at eliebert@sfts.edu. Skype consultations can also be arranged. I will make myself available in person on the Saturday that we meet face to face.

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):
Denomination-specific documents on preparation for ministry, presentation of personal statements, etc.

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:
At the completion of this class students will be able to:

1. (Fall Semester) Isolate significant moments in ministry and present them to peers in online discussions using the format provided.
            Assessment:  Online presentations and summary theological reflection paper.

2. (Fall Semester) Select an instrument (verbatim, case study, critical incident) that is appropriate to the experience and be able to explain that choice.
            Assessment: Adequate rationale included in the theological reflection paper.

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
            Assessment: presentation of ministry incident, leadership of theological reflection session via Moodle and summary theological reflection paper.

4. (Fall and Spring Semesters) Give and receive peer comment/critique that moves from individual reflection to reflection in community.      
Assessment: Face to face and Moodle reflection processes; final papers in both semesters, showing engagement with other’s input while also demonstrating an ability to take a personal stand in light of context, theological commitments and ecclesial realities.

5. (Spring Semester) Develop, present and “defend” a personal theology of ministry.
            Assessment: Engage other members of the class orally and through Moodle discussions. Oral presentation of Theology of Ministry as a work in progress (April 7) Paper will show: evidence of student input; engagement with theological, biblical and practical courses encountered in seminary, and a coherent and defensible statement. (see #5, below for more detail)

Student Requirements:

(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:

  • Your rationale for the instrument selected
  • A clear and sufficiently detailed description of the ministry incident (up to 3 pp)
  • Your own feelings and responses at the time of the incident
  • 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
  • How you might do things differently, and/or the next pastoral action that follows

Excellent papers will also include:

  • Implications for the development of your constructive theology
  • Implications for preaching

(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:

  • Being present and actively participating in the three plenary Saturday meetings (9/10/11, 2/4/12 and 4/7/12.
  • Actively participating in the Moodle discussions of peers’ work.
  • Presenting your work and theology of ministry and show thoughtful reflection and development of your thinking and practice.
  • Writing one paper at the end of each semester that shows your maturing thinking from that semester.
  • Observing on-line etiquette and maintaining appropriate confidentiality.

Documented disability:
Within the first two weeks of the fall semester, students with documented disabilities should consult about their learning needs with the instructor, so that appropriate accommodations can be agreed upon.

Expectations of on-line learning:
The course platform will be Moodle. I will provide the course password upon request or at our first class meeting in September. You can begin the course reading of the required texts as soon as you purchase them.

 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:
The content of this class, namely, the integration of theory and practice and the development of oneself as minister are delicate processes. Note: the content of this class is the process of development within each of you and of our learning community as a whole, your increasing ability to reflect on your ministry and on the integration of your theological studies to this point.

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.”
Include at least three things in your initial posting:

  • Begin with something you noticed.  You can simply say, “I noticed”, or “what first caught my attention is. . . ” or “It seems that you…” or “Your post felt to me like…” This part of your reply acknowledges the poster, and indicates that you are thoughtfully “listening” to what she/he is saying.
  • Next, add something that the poster might continue to think about. It might follow from what you noticed above, but it could also address a different aspect of the poster’s entry. For example, you might add, “Even though you seemed anxious, you also did something courageous by going back into the room. I wonder where that courage came from.”
  • Third, conclude with a comment that is biblical or theological. For example, in reference to the example just above:  “I am recalling the words of Jesus when he talks about getting hauled before the authorities, ‘this will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict….By your endurance you will gain your souls.’ I found this in Luke 21. After I typed it, I wondered, is this really about going into a tough situation unprepared, or about God’s ability to sustain us even in situations where someone is out to trap us? I think the latter. You can see if this makes sense to you in your situation.” A theological comment might go like this: “I have only read bits of Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship, but I remember that he said…. That seems to relate to your experience.”

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.
Note: We’ll adapt this third kind of posting a bit when we get to the spring semester.

Leading your theological reflection session on line:
            At least a week before the session in which you are signed up to be the presenter/leader for the theological reflection, surface a ministry incident that seems to hold more than what is on the surface, or that you were puzzled or startled or otherwise caught off guard by, or where you didn’t know what to do, or where the situation got away from you (etc). We will practice this step a bit on the first day of class together.

            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:
The online medium is very porous. Thus, we need to be especially vigilant to protect our colleague’s critical incidents and the theological reflection surrounding it. Let us agree that the incidents and initial theological reflection on line that we do for and with our colleagues is CONFIDENTIAL. Confidentiality at this juncture is designed to allow the presenter to try on unorthodox ideas, and try out risky actions under their supervisor’s watchful eye. This confidentiality is that of a professional supervision group. The facilitator of such a group (I will assume this responsibility) may intervene in the case of anything inappropriate or dangerous that might pop up. The course password, thus, should not be given to non-students.

Confidentiality of the final paper:
The final paper will NOT be considered confidential, but form a part of the student’s ITM file. Thus, if there is anything sensitive in the ministry incident the paper’s author should disguise the identities sufficiently to preserve anonymity prior to handing in the final copy.

Possible weekly schedule:
Note: readings due the week of the assignment; posts cover that reading.

September 10:
Introduction of participants, goals for this integrative reflection, opening prayer in common, Housekeeping, including: course syllabus and requirements, Moodle and how to access the class, confidentiality in this class, agreements about timing, number and quality of online posts, how to prepare to lead the theological reflection on your incident, how to prepare the theological reflection paper. Sign ups for leading theological reflection. Contemplative listening as a model for responding in person and on-line. Theological reflection graphic. Initial surfacing of ministry incidents, with responses based on contemplative listening model.

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
Post response to reading thread using the questions posted on Moodle for a starting point.

Week of September 26: Theological reflection presenter:  Beth (this will give us all a chance to practice on me!)
Post 2-4 times in response to the theological reflection. Use the model for posting first reply. Second and subsequent posts can respond to original theological reflection or to any subsequent post by any member of the class. (This pattern will reoccur every time there is a theological reflection presentation.)

Reading Assignment: Kinast Ch. 6-7
Post response to reading thread using the question(s) posted on Moodle as a launching point. This pattern will reoccur with all the readings, some each week.

Week of October 3: Theological reflection presenter: __________________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Introduction and Ch1

Week of October 10: Theological reflection presenter: _________________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Ch. 2

Week of October 17: Theological reflection presenter: _________________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Ch. 3

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: ________________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Ch. 4

Week of November 7:  Theological reflection presenter: _______________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Ch. 5

Week of November 14: Theological reflection presenter: ______________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Ch. 6

Week of November 21:  Theological reflection presenter: ______________________
            Reading Assignment: Stone and Duke, Ch. 7 and 8

Week of November 28:  Theological reflection presenter:  ______________________OR design topic as needed
            Reading Assignment: Liebert “Coming Home to Themselves” (posted on Moodle)

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.
Recess until February 4, 2012, when we will meet face to face again, 9:00-4:30 at Immanuel PC in Los Angeles. Next part of the outline available then.