The Things They Didn’t Teach Me in Seminary private Facebook group has almost 16,00 members. The Association of Theological Schools continually puts out reports from graduates on what they wish they’d learned in their MDiv. At the same time, it’s increasingly clear that our curricula for ministry formation are already overstuffed. And while one solution might be giving early-career ministers better access to continuing education to help them make the leap, it can often be a struggle for those of us feeling overwhelmed by it all even to figure out what resources are available.
Emmanuel College is not unique: theological schools across North America are grappling with these same issues. But we have, at Emmanuel, spent the last five years in intentional conversation with local ministers, regional representatives, alumni and current students to try to figure out how we might better bridge the gap between academy and church. The “Things They Didn’t Teach Me in Seminary” Seminar Series has been created to serve as this bridge. Designed in cooperation with community and ecclesial partners, workshops in the series are required for Emmanuel MDiv students who are emerging from their graduate programs into ministry and open to ministers already working in the field. Our hope is that by learning around these topics together, we’ll be able to share insights out of each of our contexts – thus strengthening the goods that we all have to offer each other for doing God’s work in the world.
This year, we’re piloting the program by bringing together a series of workshops that respond to the most pressing learning gaps ministers name: those related to their own spiritual practices and mental wellness, how to deal with conflict, how to imagine success, how to do financial planning and, perhaps, one of the most pressing ones at this particular moment—how to use technology for worship in a way that is faithful and theologically considered. While students enrolled in the Ministry Integration Seminar have free access to all the workshops, many of them do not have a cost and we have reduced rates for current students and alumni for those that do. Interested alum can also connect with each other through the Emmanuel Alumni/ae group, which will host post-workshop breakout conversations at some of the workshops that are geared to alums’ particular interests and needs.
Our hope with this series is to make connections. Between academy and church, yes. But also among a diverse group of people serving God who are ready and able to support each other. And as we hope to be emerging into something we might be able to call a post-COVID time, this series is designed to help us start finding out way back to each other as we find our way back into the world. Visit the Centre for Religion and Its Contexts events page for details and registration.
Submitted by Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, Emmanuel's associate professor of contextual education and theology.