|Doctor of Ministry seminars feature diversity, intensive learning environment|
Intellectual stimulation. Psychological training for pastors. Spiritual direction.
These are just a few of the reasons Doctor of Ministry candidates travel to San Francisco Theological Seminary every summer for graduate studies.
The SFTS Doctor of Ministry 2011 Summer Term is drawing nearly 50 graduate students to San Anselmo during its three two-week sessions. Taking advantage of flexible learning opportunities, some students come for six weeks, while others take one two-week seminar per summer as part of the D.Min. degree requirements.
For those living in the Bay Area within commuting distance, SFTS also offers a collegium group on campus that meets Monday mornings from September to May, providing yet another option for pursuing the D.Min. degree.
The current Summer Term, which runs June 6-July 15, includes students from Ethiopia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico and Switzerland. There are 15 denominations represented, including Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Unitarian Universalist.
SFTS annually draws students from around the world as the only Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminary on the West Coast.
Rev. Douglas Hill is spending six weeks in San Anselmo this summer to take three seminars and already plans to return next year to complete his course work. Hill has served as pastor at Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, Colo., for seven years. The focus of his doctoral work will be in the area of missional leadership as he seeks answers to the shocking number of suicides and violent deaths that have plagued his community, including the Columbine High School shootings.
Hill’s first seminar at SFTS is the Pastor as Person taught by Dr. Gerardo James de Jesus. De Jesus’ emphasis on Jungian psychology is the exact building block Hill is seeking to gain insights into his own volatile community in Colorado.
“It’s really rich to be in a class and engage in authentic human conversation,” said Hill, whose family will join him over Fourth of July to enjoy the San Francisco Bay Area. “I love intensive study. I’m having a blast.”
Hill, who earned a Master of Divinity from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, chose to attend SFTS thanks to a referral from his Lutheran colleague, Rev. Rick Barger (SFTS D.Min. ’01). He also wanted to add a little denominational variety to his faith perspectives.
“SFTS has a tradition of diversity,” Hill said. “Having Korean brothers and sisters here, having African brothers and sisters here, it stretches me.”
Ellen Klyce, who earned a Master of Arts in Religion from Memphis Theological Seminary, is taking one two-week seminar for the second consecutive summer. She says SFTS is an ideal place to learn and further develop her calling as a spiritual director. Klyce lives in Memphis and teaches a class at Memphis Theological Seminary.
“SFTS is a wonderful place,” Klyce said. “I have found people living out a life of faith that I didn’t know existed. I’ve found myriad diversity of people who love freedom and justice.”
On a sunny afternoon at SFTS, Klyce was catching up on some reading in the seminary library before meeting with her spiritual advisor. Walking the paths on SFTS’s historic campus, Klyce is seemingly in her element, hiding out from the hot summer days of Memphis while basking in SFTS’s rigorous academics.
Klyce was first turned on to SFTS through its Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction (DASD) program. She was an honors student at Harvard University and later attended Memphis Theological Seminary.
She hopes that earning a D.Min. degree will lead to further teaching opportunities back in Memphis. Among her interesting career paths, Klyce has been a TV producer, development officer at Harvard, and director of development and public relations at Memphis College of Art. She has also served on the boards of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Hospitality Hub, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis and St. Mary's Episcopal School.
Whether D.Min. students are relying on continuing education to enliven pastoral ministries or further their careers, SFTS continues to prepare Christian leaders for the church and the world.