Our school was initially established to locally form ordained ministers for service to the Church. As we worked three years ago to review and revise our curriculum we focused on the traditional areas of theological study: Holy Scripture, Theology, Liturgics, Church History. But we felt we needed something more – some program to assist our students as they moved into public ministry. So "Practical Theology" was conceived. Theologically centered on the Incarnation, the six courses across three academic years use theological reflection, peer supervision, case studies and other methods to foster sharing of experiences both in academic study and the field to connect our students' theological formation to the ministries to which they are called.
As the Spring 2020 semester began, the fifth course in the series began to focus on finding Christ in those who suffer in our world, in particular in seeing Christ in the ongoing struggle for people of color in our American setting. The participants shared deeply about their own experiences of race. Going deeper the participants were asked to write theological reflections on race and to prepare case studies on situations where they as ministers would acknowledge that race was an important aspect of how they were to minister. These assignments were placed in their syllabus before we all learned of the horror and pain of another act of violence, this time causing the death of George Floyd.
The other crisis facing us amidst our work was the Pandemic. On their own, the course participants started a support group that met online on Thursday evenings. They felt it to be important to be able to support one another in a safe space seeking encouragement and kindness from one another. The School for Ministry thus continues to balance academic studies with opportunities to reflect on what is means to "meet God through ministry."
The Mercer School continues to be focused on sharing our academic program with lay ministers of the diocese, and we invite everyone to explore our new offerings for the Fall semester in the course catalog posted here.
Canon Ted Gerbracht Diane Muscarella
Dir of Academic Programs Dir of Operations