The Student Pastor Program (SPP) is an option within the M.Div. program that integrates student pastorates into the educational design of the regular M.Div. curriculum. Qualified students are appointed or hired as pastor or other ministerial staff in teaching congregations that offer a full range of pastoral duties within the United Methodist Church and other denominations. These situations maximize the opportunity to relate academic studies to the practice of ministry. The sections below detail the features available within all SPP opportunities.
The Seminary works closely with United Methodist Conference Cabinets and Denominational Authorities to place student pastors. These Cabinets select the parishes, appoint the students, and help to locate clergy learning partners to work with the student, the church, and the seminary. Housing and salary usually are included in the appointment. A working covenant describes the responsibilities between the Cabinet, the local church, the seminary, the mentor pastor and the student pastor.
Because of the necessary coordination with Cabinets, you must apply to Wesley no later than February; student pastorates begin July 1. Prior to July 1, United Methodist students must have begun the process for ordained ministry in their own conference, obtained certified candidacy, and attended Licensing School. Students in other denominations must have the qualifying ministerial credentials required by their denominations.
The next Student Pastor Program orientation will take place Thursday August 25, 2016 from 9am-4pm.
The Wesley program begins with a day-long orientation session in August prior to the beginning of the school semester. During this orientation session you will be accompanied by two Learning Partners from the setting you've chosen-an ordained mentor-pastor and a member of the selected congregation. The Student Pastor Program Working Covenant should be signed by the student, both learning partners, the Pastor Parish Relations Committee Chair, District Superintendent, and seminary representative, and returned at the orientation session.
Participants may take three or four years to complete the M.Div. degree. Students should take 28 credit hours per year if finishing in three years; or take 21 credit hours per year for four years. Assignments in many classes are adaptable to parish situations. During the fall and spring semesters, SPP students take their courses on three consecutive weekdays in order to minimize travel time. You may rent a dormitory commuter room for the two nights spent on campus each week.
The slate of each semester's courses, and the days of the week that you will attend WTS in a given semester, are documented in the SPP Handbook and will be communicated to SPP students at their initial orientation session. Deviation from the pre-designed SPP plan may result in additional years to complete requirements for graduation. Note: SPP students are given special consideration for Limited Enrollment courses by the Registrar's Office during each registration period. This is to ensure that SPP students are always able to get into specific courses in the designated semester.
Student pastors meet together in small reflective seminars throughout the first two years of enrollment at WTS, earning 1 credit for each semester satisfactorily completed. These groups are led by faculty members and parish pastors, and provide informal guidance on integrating study with ministry, as well as information related to ministry with small membership congregations. Colloquy groups will generally be the same cohort of students with whom you entered Seminary.
In their first year, student pastors participate in a Spiritual Formation for Ministry course and small group on campus, which incorporate covenanted mutual accountability and service learning. Before graduation, you are required to participate in an Intercultural Immersion experience as outlined in the general requirements for the M.Div. degree.
The Student Pastor Program handbook contains a more intricate picture of the program requirements and guidelines. All persons involved in the program should be familiar with its contents. SPP Handbook
Student pastors in small or rural congregations may take a course in Rural or Small Congregation Ministry. Student pastors in an urban environment, with the counsel of their advisor, may select a course focusing on urban ministry.
If you are already a participant in the Student Pastor Program and would like more information please contact Dr. Joe Bush, Director, or Desirée Barnes, Program Administrator.
If you are interested in being a part of the Student Pastor Program please contact Rev. Tom Brunkow, coordinator of the Student Pastor Program.
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