"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."*
Finding that place where "deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet" is at the heart of Field Education at SFTS. It is a journey into God's ongoing mission in the world. Innovative pastors in every part of the world are trying new forms of worship, new ways of telling the Gospel story. They are gearing their ministries toward God's mission with the unchurched, toward those who have never been part of a faith community or whose ties to the church were damaged or broken long ago. Through an SFTS internship, students create and participate in many of the most exciting ministries in the church today.
We seek to link students in internships with innovative pastors – trained supervisors who can assist them in finding that place where their "deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet" – an ongoing journey toward following God's mission of extending the kingdom of Christ on earth. Students at SFTS have participated in internships not just in the Bay area but all over the United States. They serve in suburban, urban and rural churches, resort ministries, national parks and a wide variety of other linked internship opportunities—including hospice and prison chaplaincies.
Students return from these internships with new clarity about their own sense of call and with practical "hands-on" experience in multifaceted forms of church leadership. The Field Education programs offers students a wide range of opportunities to reflect upon and act on three main questions:
- What is ministry?
- To what ministry am I being called?
- How can I serve and participate in Christ's call to "make disciples" in this place and time of my calling?
A core value of Field Education is the Reformed theological understanding that ministry is rooted in our triune God who calls and sends the church into mission. Discernment of God's call is center stage for the office of Field Education.
At SFTS we place a high value on internships by asking each M.Div. student to complete the equivalent of two academic semesters of full-time work in an internship. Some of our students opt to integrate the internship within a three-year fulltime M.Div. course of studies. Others choose to devote a year to a full-time internship (usually after the middler year) and then to return to campus for their senior year. Our belief in the importance of this internship is foundational to the SFTS commitment to develop both the skills and arts of ministry as an essential part of the M.Div. In short, SFTS offers students a curriculum that integrates rigorous theological reflection, spiritual formation and practical skills of leadership in the 21st century church.
The internships take place in mission-shaped "Teaching Congregations" and through clinical pastoral education (CPE). Through these integrative studies and ministry practices students are encouraged to continue asking and answering those vital questions while maintaining a healthy relationship with their denomination's ordination committee. We seek to place interns in mission-shaped churches with pastors who supervise our interns in the skills and arts of ministry. Supervision is more than administration; it is mentorship, relationship and dialogue in ministry praxis. For most, the internship experience provides relationships and references that launch students into subsequent ministries.
Looking forward to participating with you in discerning your call and place in God's mission,
Rev. Leslie Veen
*Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Harper & Row, 1973.
Director of Field Education and Placement