New Program Helps Seminarians Transition into Ministry

Western Theological Seminary is reworking and expanding a program to help its graduates transition into ministry smoothly.

The program, called "Learning to Follow, Learning to Lead," has been expanded from three post-grad gatherings (formerly the 1, 3, 5 Gathering) to an eight year ministry formation process. The process starts from a student's call to seminary, includes core classes and a formation for ministry process with the office of the dean of students, and continues with learning opportunities for five years after graduation.

"The biblical and theological work we want to do centers around these two dynamics: learning to follow Christ and others, and learning to lead the church," says Keith Derrick, director of Journey: Center for the Church's Learning at Western.

"Leadership is learned in seminary, of course, but there are some things that can only be learned in a context of ministry," Derrick says. "Learning to Follow, Learning to Lead is an attempt by the seminary to look at how ministry formation continues once a graduate receives that "first call." The seminary, in partnership with the denomination, is looking at ways to support our graduates in the transition from their training as theological students to pastoral and specialized leaders for the church."

"It's bridge building between the seminary and the church—parish ministries or specialized ministries—and finding ways that continue the formation for ministry process."

The first post-graduate learning component to be developed is an annual Transition into Ministry Summit. The inaugural summit will take place April 17-19 and is open to Western graduates in the classes of 2007 through 2011. The summit will include worship, addresses from WTS president Tim Brown and dean Leanne Van Dyk, and facilitated discussions for each graduating class. Researchers from the Carl Frost Center for Social Science Research will interview participants and hold discussions about qualities needed to lead the church.

"Other denominations are paying attention to transitions out of seminary and into the pastorate. We want to learn from them but also contribute our own research and learning." Derrick says.

A registration fee of $100 rounds out financing provided by Western's Cooper Leadership Endowment and by the RCA.

To sign up, visit www.westernsem.edu/journey/communities/transition-into-ministry/ or call (616) 392-8555.

Posted 02/06/11

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