FT 4661 Interdisciplinary Theological Reflection
Fall 2011
Tuesday, 2-5
San Anselmo

Course Description:
Students will learn methods of theological reflection useful for processing critical incidents in ministry. They will reflect on several incidents from their own ministries, choose one for indepth reflection, select an appropriate method of theological reflection and lead this theological reflection with their peers, as well as participate in reflecting on their peers’ critical incidents. They will then write a paper summarizing the entire process. This paper should also reflect learnings from throughout their theological studies as brought to bear on their critical incident as well as student comment and critique. In the second part of the course, 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 (presenting theological reflection models), some reading and discussion, small group presentation, discussion and critique of peers’ work, two papers. Advanced MDiv. Fulfills SFTS Capstone requirement.

Prerequisite:
Supervised practice of ministry, completed or concurrent.

Instructor:
Elizabeth Liebert, SFTS.  Chuck DeGroat, CityChurch, San Francisco will participate as guest lecturer. 

Office hours:
Liebert is available by appointment through Petey Thornton, Executive Assistant to the Dean

Required Reading (purchase or library reserve):

Green, Joel: Seized by Truth: Reading the Bible as Scripture. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-687-02355-4, $22.00

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.

Denomination specific documents on demonstrating readiness for ministry as background for theology of ministry paper.

Required Reading (these and other reflections on ministry will be posted on course Moodle page):

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. HarperSanFrancisco, 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. Isolate significant moments in ministry and present them to peers in spoken and written form using the format provided.
            Assessment:  Theological reflection presentations and summary theological reflection paper.

2. 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. 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 incident, leadership of theological reflection session and summary theological reflection paper.

4. Give and receive peer comment/critique that moves from individual reflection to reflection in community. 
Assessment:  Communal reflection process; final theological reflection paper, 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. Develop, present and “defend” a personal theology of ministry.
            Assessment: Engage other members of the class orally. 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:

1. Regular attendance, with no more than one excused absence and no unexcused absence. With the class so small, attendance becomes CRUCIAL to other members’ ability to proceed in their learning. Students should e-mail the instructor prior to missing a session, and provide adequate reason for needing to miss the class. More than one unexcused absence results in a drop of half a grade.

2. Complete the assigned reading and engage the content through Moodle or class discussion groups as assigned on the course outline.

3. Regular, respectful engagement with other students’ theological reflections and theologies of ministry.

4. Write a theological reflection paper of 10 pages, due on November 1. Please hand in two copies. 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

5. Write a paper detailing one’s own theology of ministry. 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 the appropriate denominational and congregational persons in charge of preparation for ministry. Two drafts are to be presented to the class (the second one should show clear development over the first), and revised in light of feedback. The final paper is due on December 13. Please hand in two copies.

Grading:

Assigned reading/Moodle discussion:                           10%
Active and constructive participation in small group:      30%
Theological reflection paper:                                       30%
Theology of ministry paper:                                        30%

Documented disability:

Within the first two weeks of class, students with documented disabilities should consult about their learning needs with the instructor leading their small group so that appropriate accommodations can be agreed upon.

Group Covenant:
All participants in this course will discuss and agree upon a covenant covering the small group participation. This covenant will be discussed early in the class.

Outline of class sessions (may be adjusted as needed):

NB: Except for the first class, all assignments due on the day of the class. However, if you are presenting your theological reflection or your theology of ministry draft, you may complete that week’s reading assignment the following week.

September 6:  (Beth)
Getting Launched: Introductions, personal, ministry and denominational contexts, goals of professors and students. Syllabus and course requirements. Moodle access, including course password.  
Content:  Contemplative Listening. What constitutes an appropriate ministry incident for reflection?
Process:  Student (in class) quick-writing:  List four or five things that have happened in your ministry setting that stand out. Do not spend a lot of time trying to select the incidents, or find the “most significant” ones. Just write.
Assignment: Kinast, Let Ministry Teach, Introduction and Ch. 1-3, pp. vii-xiv, 1-67. Respond to discussion questions posted on Moodle.

September 13: (Chuck)
Getting Launched: Adjustments to the syllabus, group covenant clarifications and additions
Content:  What is Theological Reflection? Theological Reflection Method (Chuck’s preferred method)
Process:  Select one of the incidents that you wrote about in the quick-write last class. Share this incident with the class participants. After you retell the incident (2-3 minutes only, please), briefly state why you feel this incident is worth a deeper look. Other participants will respond, adding further aspects or reasons that this incident might bear deeper reflection.
Assignment: Read Kinast: Ch. 4-5, pp. 68-122 (and finish last week’s reading, if you have not). Respond to discussion questions posted on Moodle.

September 20: (Beth)
Content: Theological Reflection Method (Beth’s preferred method)
Process: Fishbowl: theological reflection (Beth is TR presenter)
Assignment:  Liebert, “Coming Home to Themselves,” and Kinast: Ch. 6-7, pp. 123-181. Respond to discussion questions posted on Moodle.

September 27: TR presenters: _______________,_______________
Process: Student-led theological reflection. [Presenters: e-mail your initial TR to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.]
Assignment: prayerfully read and ponder the first two theological reflections; read Stone and Duke, How to Think Theologically, Ch. 1-3, pp 1-57. Respond to discussion questions on Moodle.
           
October 4: Class will not meet face to face this week.
Assignment: read Stone and Duke Ch. 4-6, pp. 59-95. Reply on-line to the reading thread. See the directions on Moodle for this week, the beginning of the thread, number of times to post, etc.

October 11: TR Presenters:__________________, _____________
Process: Student led theological reflection. [Presenters: e-mail your initial TR to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.]
Assignment: prayerfully read and ponder the theological reflections being presented; read Stone and Duke, Ch. 7-9, pp. 97-131. Respond to discussion questions posted on Moodle.

October 18:  TR Presenters:________________, ________________,
Process: Student-led theological reflection. [Presenters: e-mail your initial TR to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.]
Assignment: prayerfully read and ponder the theological reflections to be discussed this class; read Long, “The Essential Untidiness of Ministry,” and “Anderson, “Making the Transition: From a Theology of Ministry to a Ministry of Theology,” and respond to the discussion questions posted on the Moodle.

October 24: Reading Week:  No class. Use this week to complete your 10-page theological reflection. Bring two copies to class on November 1.

November 1: Chuck and Beth
Content: Theology of Ministry: What is it?  
Process: Brainstorm: What topics might be included in a personal theology of ministry? What literary form might it be written in? What audiences will receive it?
Process II:  Quick-write: What strikes you as important for YOU to include in your theology of ministry paper?
Assignment:  Theological Reflection Paper due today. Hand in 2 copies please.

November 8:  Theology of Ministry drafts: ______________, _______________

Process: Two students present drafts of their theology of ministry paper. [Presenters: e-mail your drafts to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.]
Assignment: prayerfully read and ponder the first two Theology of Ministry drafts, be prepared to comment helpfully to those presenting; read Green, Seized by Truth, Ch 1-2 (pp. 1-62). Respond to the discussion questions posted on Moodle.

November 15: Theology of Ministry drafts:______________, ________________,

Process: Two students present drafts of their theology of ministry papers. [Presenters: e-mail your drafts to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.].
Assignment: prayerfully read and ponder the Theology of Ministry drafts, be prepared to comment helpfully to those presenting; read Green, Seized by Truth, Ch 3 (pp. 63-101). Respond to the discussion questions posted on Moodle.

November 22: Theology of Ministry drafts: ______________, ________________
Process: Two students present drafts of their theology of ministry papers. [Presenters: e-mail your initial TR to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.]
Assignment: prayerfully read and ponder the Theology of Ministry drafts, be prepared to comment helpfully to those presenting; read Green, Seized by Truth, Ch. 4 (pp. 103-141). Respond to the discussion questions posted on Moodle.

November 29:  Theology of Ministry Drafts:______________, _______________
Process: The final draft presentations. (Each student should have presented two drafts, which should, on second round, show development in thought.) [Presenters: e-mail your drafts to Beth by Sunday at 5:00 p.m. for posting to Moodle. Earlier is better.]
Ministry drafts, be prepared to comment helpfully to those presenting; read Buechner, “Dwarves in the Stable,” Green, Seized by Truth, Ch. 5 (pp. 143-173), Townes, “Ethics as an art of Doing the Work our Souls Must Have,” and Spahr, “And She Said, ‘Trust Me, Janie.”  Respond to the discussion questions posted on Moodle.
 
December 6:   Formal Theology of Ministry presentations, final words from Instructor. Instructions for filling out course evaluation.

Process: Presentation of final theology of ministry to entire class. Invite a friend, your liaison, a staff and/or faculty person such as Leslie Veen or Scott Clark to listen with a fresh ear and provide the kind of “audience” that a Presbytery or Committee on Preparation might be.
Assignment: Theology of Ministry papers to be handed in at this class. Please provide two copies.