• MDiv Ryan Fordice studying spaces for peace in Turkey.
  • Erika Dornfeld, MDiv, studying ministry and environmental stewardship in Tanzania.
  • Andrew Packman, MDiv’12, studying reconciliation in Bosnia
  • Kathryn Ray, MDiv/SSA dual degree, studying ministry abroad in Nicaragua.
  • Jeff Challberg, MDiv’13, studying religious education in Norwegian public schools.

Studying ministry abroad

The Divinity School’s International Ministry Study Grant program offers MDiv students the opportunity to study ministry in another cultural context.

Through this program, we hope to enlarge our students’ awareness of lived faith in its global variety and vitality, to challenge their theological and practical knowledge by exposing them to other theological methods and models of ministry, and to tune their ability to read any context—including the more ones in which they might ultimately be called to minister—deeply, faithfully, and creatively. Past projects have included the study of reconciliation in Bosnia, and biblical interpretation in South Africa.

This grant, funded by the Baptist Theological Union, sends students abroad each summer to study, including in the following projects in the summers of 2012 and 2013:

Gender Justice in Nicaragua

Out of Nicaragua’s ecclesial base community movement of the 1970s and 80s came a flourishing of non-government agencies committed to human rights work.  The CANTERA Communication and Popular Education Center and the Antonio Valdivieso Ecumenical Center both arose during the revolutionary era, and consider themselves part of the tradition of liberation theology and the popular pedagogy of Paulo Freire.  For ten weeks, I worked with these two non-profits, accompanying their gender justice workshops.  Building off their Freirean/liberationist roots, both centers use play as a means of affirming the intrinsic value of pleasure and for envisioning new ways of being in community.  Games provided opportunities to imagine and create relationships based in mutual love and the affirmation of human dignity.  Within the popular workshops, play became a means of living out liberation theology’s mandate to create the kingdom of God on earth.

- Kathryn Ray, MDiv/AM'15

Counter-narratives and Spaces for Peace in Turkey

My project was a ranging study of religion in the Gezi Park protests and Syrian crisis in Turkey.  Findings centered on several appearances of religion in these settings: narratives and counter-narratives of religion in the Gezi Park protests; Anti-Capitalist Muslim messaging and organizing through public fast-breaking; a peace-centered, multi-faith guest house and education center in the Turkey-Syria border region; and Syriac monasteries as waypoints for Syrian Christian refugees.

- Ryan Fordice, MDiv'15

Environmental Stewardship in Tanzania

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) has 20 dioceses, each of which is paired to a US counterpart, an ELCA synod. These partnerships are intended to be mutual, where the US partners are companions, not just sources of technical expertise. The companion synod program is a fruitful place to accomplish sustainability projects. This in due (in part) to the infrastructure of the ELCT and the longevity and personal nature of their relationships with American synods. Americans in this program are working to seek out and value Tanzanian’s localized and experiential knowledge when addressing environmental problems. Tanzanians in turn, can seek out what experiential and traditional knowledge Americans may hold about their own home environments impacted by Climate Change. By this mutual sharing and valuing of all ways of knowing, each encourages for the other the comprehensive knowledge base essential for combating environmental problems. 

- Erika Dornfeld, MDiv'14