A new focus beginning in January 2015
Study in the present to live faithfully in the future is here: in Pittsburgh, one of the up and coming cities, travel to London and to Pretoria to grasp the realities of urban life in the world, engage with colleagues and an amazingly gifted set of professors. ( See Urban study in Pretoria at http://web.up.ac.za/default.asp?ipkCategoryID=19967&language=0) Craft a project, think critically, reflect theologically, be transformed.
Pittsburgh, Portland, Austin: three cities mentioned as a trio, though it is admitted that Pittsburgh has yet to arrive fully with the top two cool cities of Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon. I’ve been to both these cities in the last two months. Portland, or PDX is my home town; Austin was a destination adventure, a gift over Mother’s Day. Great Barbeque, probably the best I’ve ever had in my life; I stayed in Travis Heights, an old neighborhood, with some of the most beautiful, majestic oak trees I’ve ever seen. Silent witnesses to generations: I had the strange notion these trees are a living witness to past, present and future. Pittsburgh, where I live and work, has changed so much in the past nine years, especially the East End, and Butler Street in Lawrenceville. I wonder, then, how it is that I can parlay the city as a contextually inviting space and place for study at the seminary, that is, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where ancient oaks too flourish. (See Pittsburgh’s plan to retain an urban forest at http://treepittsburgh.org/urban-forest-master-plan. )
By the end of this century, more than 75 percent of the world’s population will reside in urban areas. The complexity of this prediction can seem overwhelming and challenging.
The Doctor of Ministry Program is pleased to announce a new focus: URBAN CHANGE.
Below is the purpose and a set of objectives.
Purpose: To assist church leaders in framing and pursuing spiritually and socially transformative ministry responses to rapidly changing and socially and spiritually complex urban circumstances.
(1) To provide church leaders with interdisciplinary analytical tools, multi-sector expertise, and multicultural competencies for effectively engaging in contextual analysis of urban ministries and settings, including analysis of the social and religious frameworks and dynamics informing urban ministry approaches from one ministry to another and from one neighborhood and metropolitan context to another;
(2) To engage scholarly literatures that provide theological and social-critical foundations helpful to church leaders in formulating integrated conceptions of Christian transformation—understood in individual spiritual terms and in terms of community formation as premised upon Christian ideals of hospitality, egalitarianism, justice, and love of neighbor; and
(3) To contribute to a broad understanding of urban ministry that extends beyond church walls and church auspices and that recognizes the potentialities of God’s movement and purposefulness in every person and community-enhancing organization and initiative.
(4) To engage in a research methodology appropriate to the context of ministry; to develop and implement a project demonstrating leadership grounded in theological reflection, to evaluate outcomes which account for cultural, economic and social themes while offering a theologically and spiritually rich integration from theory to practice.
In line in the hot, hot sun for Austin barbeque, I and my companions struck up a conversation with a woman, who flew in from LA just for the barbeque. She knew CMU, she knew Pitt, but when I mentioned the seminary, she went silent. Why? Easy answer, she would have no reason to know of us, her interest was science and medicine, and yet, I wonder: In this most unusual time when religion remains dominant and influential, we must create a niche; a dialogue and discussion of religion and its purpose; of Christianity and its relationship to other religions. It seems a natural to me. We need space for dialogue, clearings under the trees for conversations and questions, without a rush to fill in every moment of silent angst or wonder. We need spaces for honest reflection; we need trees in urban areas, we need relationships of depth and purpose around the globe.
This is not a time to hearken back to some idea of utopian idealism; to a frontier spirit of a time-space continuum in which communities and churches and educational enterprises were established to keep intact a way of life, a set of beliefs as if there had been some sort of arrival of all truth for all time and place. Rather the call if you will for now is to be truly present to what is; to acknowledge that the most important task of this time is courage to create conversations.
This is your invitation to consider participating in the new DMin focus—a future which is NOW.
Susan Kendall, PhD, Director, Doctor of Ministry Program