To be responsive in a prophetic way to identified pastoral and ministerial needs, Wesley’s Doctor of Ministry program will offer three carefully focused tracks in 2017. One of the tracks will be in Public Engagement, inspired by the work of the late Rev. Dr. Clementa Pinckney, who received his D.Min. posthumously at Wesley’s 2016 Commencement ceremonies May 9. Also on the list of new offerings are tracks in Life Together: Spirituality for Transforming Community, and in Church Leadership Excellence.
“The Public Engagement program actually begins in Charleston, South Carolina, in January,” Director of Admissions Chip Aldridge said, referencing the city where Pinckney was martyred in July 2015 along with eight other members of the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. congregation. “It’s where Clementa Pinckney lived, and it’s where he was studying for his own D.Min.,” Aldridge said.
Public Engagement courses reflect the kind of ministry embodied by Pinckney, a pastor who also served as a member of the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives. “It’s for pastors who see themselves as a spokesperson for faith in the public square,” Aldridge said. “They might see themselves becoming an elected official, or they might be someone committed to shaping the public discourse as a significant part of their ministry.”
Referencing Pinckney’s example, Aldrich added, “It’s for the working pastor who recognizes that their call is to become a voice for the powerless in the halls of power.”
Track courses for Life Together – Spirituality for Transforming Community, are focused less on the public voice and more of strengthening the foundations of an established church or organization. “What sets this program apart,” Aldridge said, “is that it revolves around the community’s self-understanding as an agent for ministry.”
Classes are designed to support those seeking to better meet the needs of new members in a community, or to help long term members come to a new understanding of their spiritual strengths. “The deepening of the spiritual life of a community helps that community understand its own strengths,” Aldridge said. “And that allows them to step forward into new ministries and missions.”
People working in collegiate ministries will find the Life Together D. Min. track especially helpful. “The process of creating a community of students, faculty, and staff who are always in transition has its particular challenges,” Aldridge noted. “You’re creating a worshipping body where a portion is always arriving and a portion is always leaving. This track will look at how to shape that community for discipleship, and for activity.”
Offered annually for more than a decade, the Church Leadership Excellence D. Min. track welcomes a new cohort in May 2017, providing them with the opportunity to revitalize church communities through a unique pairing of secular practice and theological exploration. “This program gives us the opportunity to serve those who know themselves thoroughly as people called to leadership,” Aldridge said.
Presented in conjunction with the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, this track is especially suited to its home in the nation’s capital. “We give our students the opportunity to experience the best of what we’ve learned from the secular leadership world, and to adapt that for our faith communities,” Aldridge said. “The research and skills offered through the Center have transformed the work of a wide range of lay and clergy leaders.”
This hybrid online/on-site D.Min. program serves the needs of active clergy working in the field for at least three years after receiving their M.Div. by compressing on-campus time.
“It’s a natural next step,” Aldridge said. “It’s very practical, and it benefits both them and their ministry setting.”
In addition to gaining new knowledge and skills directed at their own work, graduates become catalysts for much broader community growth. “They become a sort of regional expert or consultant,” Aldridge said. “They impact churches and ministries far beyond their own.”
That web of influence is critical to the continuing strength of the D.Min. program itself, as graduates identify potential leaders – and potential students – in their communities. “It’s so important that our graduates encourage their colleagues, the people they think will benefit most from these programs,” Aldridge said.
Aldridge encourages alumni to contact him with names of potential candidates and thoughts about the program’s value and potential. “Just give me a call,” he said. “Talk to me about how we can get the word out.”
You can reach Chip Aldridge at 202.885.8600.