This summer, the month of June to be exact, I embarked on a new and very rewarding adventure. I went back to school!!! I started on my Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in Pastor as Spiritual Leader at San Francisco Theological Seminary. It was the absolutely most fantastic three weeks I have had in a long time.
I took two classes and a seminar to start off my journey. The first class I took was “Pastor as Person” where we focused on the themes of our callings, spiritual leadership, spiritual disciplines, and awareness of ourselves in our own unique ministry settings. We had seven in our class and while it is normally a two week coarse meeting in the mornings, we did it in one week meeting morning and afternoon every day. It was intense, but we had such a great group. Our instructor, Dr. Charlene Jin Lee was fantastic. She really is intuative and utilized a variety of exercises to keep us engaged. We had three main books for this class and wrote one to two papers a day. It was an excellent class to start off with.
The next two weeks I took “Prayer and Discernment in Pastoral Ministry” from Dr. Luther Smith. The major focus was looking at prayer and discernment in the pracitce of ministry and leadership. This was also one of my four required classes for my concentration. You take six classes total with two being electives. Luther was amazing as well and while this was a larger class, 14 of us, we broke into two groups when we would go over our reflection assignments. We had six major books we used for this class with a reflection paper almost every night and a final paper due August 1 of 12-15 pages. I am working on that now. I took a few days off to let my brain relax and also work on sermon work for church.
I took the “Dissertation/Project Orientation Seminar” over the last two weeks as well. While I am not at the point yet to start writing my dissertation, this seminar will help shape how I ask questions and take notes over the rest of my coarse work, to help once I start writing. I did start working on my problem statement, and this will help as I get closer to actually presenting my proposal. There are 12 books that I need to order and read for this seminar over this next year. The great thing about this seminar is that you can take it as many times as you need as you prepare to start writing your dissertation.
Overall I am very enthused about what lies ahead for me over the next four years. The main group that will benefit from my work will be the church I serve, Delta Community Presbyterian Church and especially the leadership of the church. But I will also benefit as I learn new ways of doing ministry, gain new friendships, as well as deepening my own skills in writing, speaking, and research. Once I finish the paper due August 1, I will be preparing for my next series of classes that will happen in January 2017. It will be two more classes in the required category, getting me back on track for the program. Many of us began in June as opposed to those that started in January, so to get us all together, this is what has been recommended for me.
I am so thankful for all the prayers that my family, church family, and friends have been lifting for me. It has been 22 years since I was last a student, and I started out a little rusty, but things feel much smoother now. I will keep everyone posted on my progress and what my dissertation topic will be. Blessings to you all!!