DMin degree program is one more way Nashville Area of The United Methodist Church is living into its missionPosted: January 9, 2015
As I am well into my third year of serving the Nashville Episcopal Area (Memphis and Tennessee Conferences), one issue always on my mind and heart is making sure we have a well-planted Wesleyan theology throughout all of our congregations and ministries.
I want to help secure a Wesleyan theological foundation for our Christian faith and practice that embraces Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. I think this foundation is especially critical for the success of our new Area-wide mission to discover, equip, connect and send lay and clergy leaders who shape congregations that offer Jesus Christ to a hurting world, one neighborhood at a time.
As one of many ways to address this theological grounding, my office is currently coordinating the offering of a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree program that begins this month.
To initiate this program with about 10 students from each conference, I, along with Dr. Douglas Meeks and Rev. Tom Laney of the Cal Turner Center for Church Leadership at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn., identified potential students. My hope and intention, however, is that this will be only the first cohort of an ongoing program. It is also my desire that those who complete the degree will help carry forth the teaching of Wesleyan theology across our Area.
The DMin program is a partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and the Turner Center. Cal Turner, Jr., has provided a generous grant to make this program possible.
Students will meet four times over a two-year period for two weeks at a time at four different locations: Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tenn.; Methodist-LeBonheur Healthcare System in Memphis, Tenn.; Wesley Theological Seminary; and Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn.
The degree program will focus on issues important today that also were part of the original Wesleyan revival: healing and health care delivery, education, urban and rural poverty, and the penal/political/economic system.
The DMin program will employ an interdisciplinary approach to equip pastoral leaders for the challenges of their mission fields. Each course will include work on scripture, Wesleyan theology, congregational formation for mission, and social, economic and political analysis of mission opportunities in middle and west Tennessee and western Kentucky.
I want to express my appreciation to the Turner Center for the grant funds it is providing to cover the cost of tuition for those who decide to enroll. (Students will pay for books and travel.)
The Turner Center also graciously funded an event last August to introduce and explain the degree program to potential students. Dr. Meeks met with the group and, among many things, talked about how John Wesley served “in the world.”
As Dr. Meeks told the potential DMin candidates, if Christ’s love and forgiveness can’t be conveyed by our United Methodist churches in the midst of current events, we are no different than any other organization.
It is my hope that this DMin program will train and prepare these clergy to convey grace and share the gospel while “in the world” so others may learn and know the love of Christ.
~ Bishop Bill McAlilly, Nashville Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church (Middle and West Tennessee and Western Kentucky)