The field education components of the ministry program offer students the opportunity to combine practice and reflection in their theological education. The aim of field education is not only to provide practical experience in the arts of ministry, but also to foster mutual enrichment between the academic study and the practice of ministry—allowing for practical engagement in the tasks of ministry to challenge and enrich the student's academic study at the Divinity School, and for this study to challenge and enrich the student's practice of ministry.
The M.Div. degree requires two distinct field education experiences—the Congregational Placement during the second year of study, which complements the course work undertaken in the Arts of Ministry sequence and The Practice of Ministry (Practicum); and an additional Fieldwork experience which may be situated either in a parish or in an alternative setting of the student's choosing, such as campus or hospital chaplaincy (CPE), or work in a community outreach ministry. This placement is chosen in consultation with the Director of Ministry Studies or the Director of Field Education to address particular needs or interests in the student's ministerial formation.
The congregational placement during the second year of M.Div. study serves as both living text for student observation of religious practice, and as laboratory for student formation in the ministerial arts. Second-year students spend fifteen to twenty hours per week in the parish context, closely supervised by a Teaching Pastor with the additional support and instruction of the congregation's Lay Committee. At the Divinity School, supervision and reflection on this congregational experience and the student's ministerial formation occurs during the weekly sessions of The Practice of Ministry (Practicum), led by the Director of Field Education. In addition, quarterly meetings with the student, Teaching Pastor, and Director of Field Education help to secure experiential learning of the highest quality.
Students begin selecting a congregational placement by winter quarter of the first year, in consultation with the Director of Ministry Studies or Director of Field Education, keeping in mind denominational ordination requirements, the students' vocational gifts, broadening interests, and the unique characteristics and skills of particular congregations and pastors. By the end of the spring quarter of the first year, the student, pastor, and Director of Ministry Studies sign a Learning Agreement, which outlines the expectations and responsibilities of each party for the year ahead. Teaching Pastors become adjunct members of the Divinity School's faculty for the year. The Divinity School asks that they introduce their students to the full range of tasks involved in the vocation of ministry. The Learning Agreement identifies seven categories that should be covered during the year:
- Worship Leadership
- Pastoral Care
- Religious Education
- Church Administration
- Denominational and Ecumenical Relations
- Social Ministry
During the first few weeks of the internship, the student and the Teaching Pastor agree on an Action Plan, which outlines concrete goals for the year in each of these categories. At the end of each academic quarter, the student and Teaching Pastor each write an evaluation of the experience, using the Action Plan as a benchmark. The Director of Field Education also meets with the student to discuss his or her progress towards meeting the goals outlined in the Action Plan. The final evaluation and assessment occurs in the spring quarter.
The Divinity School provides each student with a stipend of $2,000 per quarter ($6,000 for the year) during the year of congregational placement.
The Practice of Ministry (Practicum)
An essential dimension of the congregational placement is the weekly exercise in reflection on congregational life and ministerial practice known as “practicum.” This course, required of all second-year students successfully to complete the field education requirement, meets weekly during the academic year. Two course credits are given for completing the year of field education/practicum. Course work for The Practice of Ministry (Practicum) involves reading and writing on the theology of ministry and practical theological method for ministry, developing “thick descriptions” of congregational life and religious practice, and discussion of congregational case studies. Teaching pastors and other practitioners may be invited to lecture; the class might visit various ministry sites. The course is facilitated by the Director of Field Education.
Teaching Pastors are an integral part of the ministry program at the Divinity School. Each student works with a Teaching Pastor in a local congregation during the student's second year in the program. We conceive this experience as an apprenticeship in ministry and expect students to be exposed to the full range of pastoral duties: preaching, teaching, worship leadership, pastoral care, social ministry, administration, and denominational, ecumenical, and interreligious relations.
Teaching Pastors are selected through mutual consultation between the student, the pastor, and the Director of Ministry Studies. Teaching Pastors become adjunct members of the Divinity School faculty for the years in which they supervise students.
Unlike the second-year internship, the field work requirement can be accomplished outside of a congregation. The Field Work component of the degree is an intentionally broad and open-ended requirement. Like the Congregational Placement it functions as a workshop for the integration of academic study and theory with the practice of the ministerial arts. Likewise, Field Work should foster the continuing commitment to deep theological reflection on the practice of ministry in the context of a closely supervised working relationship with a professional practitioner. The particulars of the Field Work experience are open to the specific interests of the student providing that the student can demonstrate that the internship offers some direct involvement in the practice of ministry.
Students choose to complete their fieldwork requirements at any stage of the program. Many elect to use the summer after their first or second year to engage their particular Field Work selection. Dual degree students through the SSA should be aware that their required internship for the MSW degree will jointly satisfy the Divinity School requirement. This requirement can be met several ways:
• A basic unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). For more information, see the section on Clinical Pastoral Education below.
• A summer intensive in a local church or agency. (40-50 hours per week for eleven weeks).
• A second year part-time (15-20 hours per week) in a local church or agency for three quarters.
• Some other specialized form of ministry approved by the Director of Ministry Studies and the Director of Field Education.
All students must have their Field Work approved in advance. In some instances where the internship is in a less structured setting the student may be required to make additional supervisory arrangements with the Director of Field Education. The Divinity School provides a stipend of $1500 for all field work, and up to $500 towards tuition for an accredited unit of CPE (tuition for a basic unit of CPE is generally less than $500). The Field Work contract is due by the eighth week of the spring quarter to ensure payment of the stipend.
Clinical Pastoral Education
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is one way to fulfill the Divinity School's fieldwork requirement. Although not required by the Divinity School for the M.Div., many denominations require a basic unit of CPE for ordination, consecration, or certification. All students are thus encouraged to inquire about their denomination's policies regarding CPE. For more information on the history and practice of CPE, including application forms and a list of centers that offer CPE, see Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc .