Resources for Prospective and Current Sites

Wesley welcomes and appreciates the dynamic support of PMM sites in training ministers through partnership with its contextual education programs. Last year, Wesley's PMM students enjoyed the partnership of 150 unique placement sites for students in building their sense and capacity for ministry. We invite your church, agency, healthcare institution, etc. to join Wesley Theological Seminary in the mission of preparing the next generation of pastoral leaders for the church and world.

 

Wesley Theological Seminary would look forward to welcoming you as a PMM teaching ministry. The opportunity to share in our values for contextual education is a distinct call to partner with us in creating your ministry setting as a true "classroom" for ministerial education, partnering with a Wesley student as she/he answers the call of God for service in the church.

 

Our God expects much from us in living and proclaiming the Gospel in diverse contexts and ways. So too, Wesley asks a lot from the Learning Partners who mentor students in their journey. We invite you to read the Attributes of a Teaching Setting, which will provide you with a clear summary of what is sought in a teaching setting.

 

Current Summer Sites

Establishing a Learning Agreement

Covenanting Together for Learning

The educational value of this internship in ministry will depend to a large degree on the intern’s own initiative in structuring it intentionally as a learning experience.  In this internship, a student largely is able to design his or her own “curriculum” in ministry with his or own experience being the primary text.  A key vehicle for establishing this student-initiated curriculum is the Learning Agreement.   As a place of beginning, students are encouraged to fill out this PMM goal development worksheet and then to share their answers with their learning partners.  The worksheet will help both students and their learning partners to identify areas of potential learning.

A typical learning agenda will have four (4) goals, but each of these four learning goals may entail a number of more specific learning objectives.  These specific objectives should be linked with actual ministry activities and with a time frame for accomplishing them.

Instructions, guidelines and examples are provided in Section III of the PMM Handbook.  A synopsis of this process is presented in bullet points in a Learning Agreement Handout.  Also, this learning goal grid can assist in conceptualizing the learning agenda, but the final form of the learning agenda should be consistent with the example provided in the Handbook and should be signed by the student-intern and the learning partners.

Student-interns are responsible for crafting these learning agendas in consultation both with their learning partners in their contexts of ministry and with their fellow participants in the PMM Colloquies.   Student interns are given specific instructions in their syllabi about providing final forms of these learning agendas to their colloquy leaders and/or the PMM office early in the course of their internships.

Learning Partners.   Each of the three learning partners can bring particular insights to bear on the task of constructing a Learning Agreement for ministry.

                1.  Student interns know best what they want to learn or need to learn.  They have the best understanding at any given moment in time concerning their discernment of a call to some kind of ministry.   They know best their gifts for ministry and strengths for service (which might not need to be framed as learning goals) and their growing edges (which might make excellent learning goals). 

                2.  Clergy/Administrative mentors know best the opportunities for ministry and learning that are offered within their parishes, agencies and communities.  Where are there particular opportunities for engagement, service, or learning?  This is not to ask what the mentor has to teach the intern from the mentor's wealth of experience.   This is also not to ask what jobs need to be done.  It is instead to identify the special opportunities within the parish or agency for the student to experience ministry him- or herself and to learn from that experience.

                3.  Lay/Other learning partners The design of these learning partnerships are not an apprenticeship.  Student Interns are not simply learning from their Clergy/Administrative mentors, they are learning in broader conversation with those who provide ministry in a variety of ways, and those who are recipients of ministry in a variety of forms.  This is why it is important to have an insightful individual on the learning partnership in addition to the Clergy/Administrative mentor and Student Intern.  This person can bring a different voice and needed perspective into their theological reflection together.

Use this exercise sheet to help each member of the Learning Team explore what they have to offer as you create your learning agreement.

*PMM documents may refer variously to “learning goals,” learning agenda,” “learning agreement,” and “learning covenant.” Unless particular clarification is given, these may be understood as synonymous.

Suggestions for the Meeting of Learning Partners

Schedule for Theological Reflection

The meeting between learning partners should be scheduled weekly for one hour for summer internships or monthly for year-long internships. This should be designated as dedicated reflection time, not a time for staff task planning. This could also be an occasion for helping the student-intern with time management facilitated by the student keeping a Ministry Activity Log that might be reviewed by the field instructor. The Ministry Activity Log can allow a student to raise both practical and theological issues during the course of practicing ministry.

Suggestion Model for Theological Reflection

  1. Prayer for guidance at the beginning of the conference and again at the conclusion can help open all learning partners to emerging insight.
  2. Recollection of an event by the student-intern
    1. The student-intern goes over his/her recent experiences in the setting and identifies for discussion a significant event, incident, or happening which has occurred between her/himself and persons at the site. The event may have happened while the student functioned as a pastor to someone, made a hospital or home visit, received feedback on a sermon or talk, or performed some other act of ministry. (NOTE: At this point, evaluation of the student’s behavior is not discussed. “Significant” refers to the importance, weight, or meaningfulness this event has for the student in the recollection of the event.)
    2. The student identifies thoughts and feelings which occurred at the time of the event
    3. The student identifies what she or he said or did as a pastor. How were the student’s words and actions in/out of touch with his or her feelings?
  3. Conversation together between learning partners.
  4. As the student-intern recalls an event in ministry, the student-intern’s learning partners mostly listen and ask clarifying questions.
  5. Explore together now:
  6. What theological assumptions or faith commitments was the student living out in this event?
  7. What theological assumptions or faith commitments are evoked for the learning partners?
  8. What may we draw from the Scriptures and the Tradition to inform these assumptions and to inform this reflection now?
  9. How does the student view this particular event theologically now?
  10. How does this theological perspective address or inform the student’s style and method as a minister more generally?
  11. What new insight or guidance might the learning partners want to offer in light of this theological reflection?
  12. Was this event cause for the student-intern to intentionally plan and make adjustments in her/his understanding of ministry for the future?
  13. Moving onward

Closure of Conference

It is important not to focusing on fixing a problem but to offer options and to invite the student’s perceptions and reflections. It is helpful to suggest resources or to identify ways in which you have responded to similar experiences. It is usually not helpful to make “right and wrong” judgments. It is helpful to be frank with the student, affirming strengths and recognizing areas of weakness that need work. Close with prayer.

NOTE: Periodically, the reflection between learning partners and the student-intern should also include review of progress on the student’s learning goals. The student will be evaluated on these goals and needs regular feedback for his or her own learning.

Further resources for theological reflection between learning partners can be found in the PMM Handbook, especially chapters 2 and 5. Learning partners and student-interns should also consult the individual course syllabi for recommended reading on theological reflection.

The central event in the contextual studies experience is practical theological reflection involving all of the learning partners focusing on what is happening for the student-intern as she/he goes about tasks of ministry.

Theological Reflection and Case Study

All PMM2 students and some PMM1 students have a case study assignment for their colloquies involving theological reflection on a situation of ministry. The regular meetings between learning partners in the context of ministry also tend to focus theological reflection on situations and events in ministry. Two resources, in particular, are recommended for case studies.

  • Theological Reflection as Shared Wisdom
    The method for theological reflection in the book,Shared Wisdom, by Jeffrey H. Mahan, Barbara B. Troxell, and Carol J. Allen (Nashville: Abingdon; 1993). is used in most PMM colloquies. Here is a synopsis of that method for use in learning partnerships.

 

 

  • Farber-Robertson & Reflective Practice
    Anita Farber-Robertson interprets "action science" (as developed by Donald Schőn and Chris Argyris) for pastoral ministry. The method for case study in herLearning While Leading is used in our PMM summer colloquy, and learning partners and leaders of other colloquies have expressed interest in it. Here is a link to a helpful book review.

Practical Theology in Church and Society

To reflect theologically on practice is to attend to various levels of community—from individual action to political praxis. We might reflect on personal practices, interpersonal interactions, community organizations, social institutions, or wider social forces—even globalizing trends. Some students in PMM1 are attending very deliberately to praxis as community engagement. Many of them are reading Carl Dudley’s, Community Ministry (Alban, 2002), and are following Dudley’s steps in analyzing a community. These steps are:

  1. defining the community,
  2. identifying the people,
  3. finding the “invisible” people,
  4. analyzing intangible forces,
  5. listening to the community, and
  6. choosing a focus for ministry.

Learning partners are invited to engage in community analysis along with the student-interns and to reflect together theologically on their shared society. In fact, student interns might involve others in the congregation or in the neighborhood along with their learning partners in a study- group to explore their social context. This social analysis could then guide your theological reflection together. The following is a guide for broadening theological reflection to take into account analysis of social realities and dynamics... more >

Maintaining Respectful Boundaries

Please view this webpage about Ethics and Boundaries  provided by the Presbyterian and Reformed Theological Field Educators.  Click on the link to their slideshow on “Basic Concepts and Best Practices.”  These materials provide an excellent introduction to the subject of boundaries in supervised ministry.

The guiding rule to govern the relationship between supervisors and interns should be respect.  Please regard one another with appreciative respect:

 -  Respect for each other’s personal integrity

 -  Respect for the pedagogical and ministerial nature of your relationship with each other, and

 -  Respect for the power differential between you and the intern’s relative vulnerability.   Because of the imbalance of power structured into the relationship between supervisors and student-interns, Wesley Seminary prohibits amorous relationships between them.  The Seminary’s Sexual Harassment Policy states the following:

While the development of romantic relationships between genuinely consenting adults can obviously be a positive event in appropriate circumstances, faculty and administrators, as individuals in authority, must recognize that the imbalance of power between themselves and students renders mutuality of consent in relationships with students problematic and raises potential conflicts of interest. Further, when the authority and power inherent in administrative and faculty relationships to students is abused, whether overtly, implicitly, or through misinterpretation, there is potentially great damage to individual students, to the persons complained of, and to the educational climate of the institution. For these reasons, Wesley Theological Seminary prohibits romantic or amorous relationships between faculty and students, and between administrators and students. For the same reasons, Wesley Theological Seminary also prohibits romantic or amorous relationships between students and learning partners, and between students and parishioners in the Practice in Ministry and Mission sites. Likewise, the Seminary prohibits romantic or amorous relationships between supervisors and those whom they supervise. (PMM Handbook, p. 102)

Please read the rest Wesley Seminary’s Sexual Harassment Policy, as well as other important policies and covenants, in Appendix D of the PMM Handbook.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED BOUNDARIES RESOURCES

Safe Sanctuaries:

Safe Sanctuaries:  General Board of Discipleship, UMC
Safe Sanctuaries:  Baltimore Washington Conference, UMC

FaithTrust Institute:

http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/resources/bibliographies/clergy-sexual-abuse

Engaging in Theological Reflection

Conducting Transparent Evaluations

At the end of each summer internship, interns participate in a process of evaluation within their ministerial contexts. The evaluative method is primarily one of reflection and conversation between the intern and the learning partners. Interns, then, report back to the colloquy concerning the content of these evaluations and to further reflect on them. The faculty colloquy leader then turns all evaluation forms in to the PMM office along with his or her own evaluation of the intern. The primary purpose of evaluation is to facilitate the intern's own learning in context, and the following method of evaluation is designed to empower the intern in this process of learning and formation for ministry.

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1. Using a form for such purpose ), the learning partners and ministry intern should each separately complete the evaluation in writing. Use extra pages if needed.

Step 2. After separately completing the end-of-summer evaluation forms, the learning partners and ministry intern should meet together in order to read and discuss each others' written evaluations. Both points of similarity and difference can provide fruitful areas for conversation together. A worksheet is provided to help record students’ insights below.

Step 3. Interns are responsible, then, for submitting the entire packet of evaluation forms to the colloquy leaders on the final face-to-face colloquy meeting. This packet should include these forms in the following order:
(1) The Student Evaluation Form
(2) The Clergy Mentor's Evaluation Form
(3) The Lay Learning Partner's Evaluation Form

Step 4. Interns enrolled in PMM will have an opportunity to share these evaluations with their classmates in the PMM Colloquy at the seminary as well as with the instructors of that Colloquy.

Step 5. Colloquy leaders then complete and sign their own evaluation of the intern using a form for this purpose.

Step 6. Colloquy leaders submit grades to the registrar and bring the entire packet of evaluation forms (now also including their own evaluation of the intern) to the PMM office to be filed. The deadline for returning all evaluation forms to the PMM office is the same day as that on which grades are due to the registrar for returning students.These evaluative reports will then be kept in the intern’s PMM file at the seminary where the student will have access to them and where they are governed by FERPA. Evaluations from an internship will be shown subsequently outside of the seminary at the intern’s written and explicit request to do so.

Learning Partners' Evaluation of Student
Students' Self Evaluation
Worksheet for student discussion of evaluations

Theological Reflection and Spiritual Formation for Discipleship

Roberta Bondi writes:

Many folks think of “real” theology primarily as abstract and speculative talk about God and God’s ways, and the more abstract and speculative and universal it is, the more serious it is. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. Like prayer, the work of real theology is saving work; it is about learning to see God and understand reality and ourselves as we really are in order that we may grow and thrive and become the loving people God wants us to be. Prayer and theological reflection vitally need each other; they are two parts of a whole that cannot be separated.

In Ordinary Time (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 22.

Some of the students in PMM1 are reading Roberta Bondi’s book, To Pray and To Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Early Church(Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1991). Along with their activities in ministry, these students are engaging in practices of prayer from the deeper Christian tradition. Learning Partners are encouraged similarly to read Bondi’s book and to engage in these prayer practices along with their student-interns. Writing about the connection between tradition, experience, story, prayer, and theological reflection, Bondi continues:

Most of what I know about anything complex relating to prayer I know from the way the theology and practice of the early church I study intersects with my own experience, prayer, and theological reflection . . . I believe we can talk about complicated divine and human things best if, rather than starting with neat, sleek theories of the way things are, we begin with actual messy, ambiguous stories. Once having told the stories, we will be in a position to try to make sense of them.

In Ordinary Time, 176.

Prayer together, then, can become a larger part of the regular meeting between learning partners. Theological reflection can emerge from and be informed by prayer. Likewise, prayer can arise out of theological reflection. The student-intern’s recollection of an event in ministry, though, and her or his narrative of that experience--his or her story--remains the focus for theological reflection and informs your prayer together.

Wesley Theological Seminary   Wesley Theological Seminary  |   4500 Massachusetts Avenue, NW  |  Washington, DC 20016  |  PH: 202.885.8600  |  FX: 202.885.8605  |   Privacy
Web Site Management Sign-in | Wesley's Facebook Page Wesley Theological Seminary on Twitter Wesley Theological Seminary on Flickr Wesley Theological Seminary on Google Plus!