Study for an University of Divinity award can lead to further study and formation for endorsed ministry within of Churches of Christ. This occurs as students further explore their faith and call to Christian ministry in a journey with others. The process usually requires a minimum commitment of four years. Under normal circumstances undergraduate students will complete a Bachelor degree and a Graduate Diploma. Postgraduate students will complete a Master of Divinity and a Graduate Diploma.
Students can choose their elective units to focus on the kind of ministry they desire to undertake – in a local church, cross-cultural mission, youth ministry, chaplaincy or an emerging form of ministry.
The Ministry Formation process is complete when the student:
- Is recommended for endorsement by a Ministerial Discernment Panel operating under the auspices of the Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania.
- Successfully completes a minimum of two years of student ministry experience, which includes at least one year of Supervised Field Education.
- Completes a course of study approved by the Mission and Ministry Board of Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania.
Application for admission to the Ministry Formation stream occurs during the first year of study. People who are seeking endorsement as ministers within Churches of Christ will engage in a precise program of ministry formation. This program involves four primary stages or phases:
- A year of discernment (during which a formal application is made);
- A year of theological reflection on ministry (which involves a 16 hour per week placement);
- An SFE (Supervised Field Education) year (which involves a 16 hour per week placement);
- A year of consolidation (which involves a supervised ministry placement).
The list below gives an overall map of key events that will mark the steps towards endorsement.
Phase 1: Year of Discernment
- Invitation to consider God’s call with lecturers students and churchFormal application to enter ministry stream Application to Churches of Christ Vic/Tas Endorsement Taskgroup, in November.
- Police check
- Letter indicating Taskgroup’s recommendation to Conference
Phase 2: Theological reflection on Ministry
- 16 hour week placement
- Supervision – to meet 12 times
- Fortnightly peer group meetings directed by SFECoordinator
- SFG (Support and Feedback Group – church based)
- Serving and Learning covenant
- Seminar on ethics and ‘code of conduct’
- Interview panel with panel made up of representatives from wide cross section of Churches and Conference at end of year, including assessments from faculty, mentor, church, SFG
- Letter affirming continuation within the ministry stream months may be granted to part-time candidates.
Phase 3: Supervised Field Education
- 16 hour/week placement
- supervisor – to meet 12 times
- weekly peer seminar
- Support and Feedback Group (SFG)
- Serving and learning Covenant
- Theological Reflection paper – exploring operational theology.
- Interview panel at end of year, including assessments from faculty, supervisor, church, and (SFG).
- Letter affirming possible Provisional Endorsement
Phase 4: Year of Consolidation
- 16 hour/week placement
- Monthly peer group (with optional fortnightly & site visits)
- Supervision (12 times)
- SFG – Support and Feedback Group
- Spiritual direction (Established by the end of year)
- Interview Panel at end of year, including assessments from faculty, supervisor, church, SF
- Letter affirming possible endorsement and outlining process to ordination.
Think about the people who have been your ministers. What were the qualities that you admired in those ministers? Was it their biblical knowledge, their relationship with God, their pastoral sensitivity, the way they made the Gospel relevant to your life, or their contemplative spirituality?
Some of these qualities are learnt in the academy while others are formed in the worshipping community. These two aspects are discussed below, but keep in mind the one constant is that the learning and formation is always ongoing. We are never ‘masters’ of this vocation.
Learning in the academy has long been a requirement for professional ministry in most settings. The areas of study are basic: biblical studies (Old and New Testaments); Christian thought about God, Jesus, the church and the world; pastoral leadership and care; mission, ethics, spirituality, worship and the practice of ministry. The history and thought of Churches of Christ is another relevant subject.
Formation in the worshipping community is an experience essential for the development of healthy ministry. Here, a minister-in-training receives support and direction from an experienced minister. Attached to this training is a program of supervised field education run by the College. This supervised field education is designed to help the trainee integrate their studies with their experience of ministry. The focus is personal growth and intentional professional development. The trainee is encouraged to set goals and objectives and monitor them. Acts of ministry are discussed in peer groups, feedback groups, and with a supervisor to develop the skills of self-evaluation and theological reflection. These two skills are crucial for sustainable, effective ministry. Self-evaluation of one’s ministry leads to greater self-understanding and continuous improvement. Theological reflection occurs with the consideration of questions like: “how did that act of ministry fit with the way I think about God?” or “where does that act of ministry fit with the story of Jesus in the New Testament?” The more one becomes practised in answering questions like these about their own life and ministry, the more adept one becomes in helping others discover the meaning of the Gospel for their own lives.
Normally, this formation process takes three years in conjunction with learning in the academy. However, people seeking endorsement for ministry by Churches of Christ present with a variety of life experiences, education and ministry backgrounds. This is taken into account when a program of training is designed for each candidate. In addition, the ministry setting the candidate feels called to is also considered when formulating the components of learning and formation. The resulting endorsement of the candidate by Churches of Christ for ministry merely acknowledges what has already occurred in the life of the candidate.
For more information on endorsement matters CLICK HERE.
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is offered through the University of Divinity in partnership with ASPEA (the Association for Supervised Pastoral Education in Australia, Inc). The program is required by some churches for formal ministry accreditation or ordination, and is available to pastoral and spiritual carers. Most units are offered in hospital or clinical contexts, but some can be undertaken in a variety of ministry contexts. The CPE program is led by ASPEA’s accredited supervisors.
Enrolling in CPE
Enrolments are managed through the University’s Colleges in conjunction with the University’s CPE Liaison Officer, Allison Whitby, who is located at Stirling Theological College. Allison can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Stirling on (03) 9790 1000.
Students interested in taking a unit of CPE should speak with a Coursework Coordinator at any of the University’s Colleges to begin this process. The CPE Liaison Officer can offer advise on who to contact at which CPE Centre, and the ASPEA website can also guide students.
Students wishing to undertake CPE are required to follow application procedures, including an interview with a CPE Centre Director before they can be offered a place in the program (if one is available). With the letter of offer, a student can then enrol in the required unit.
Two CPE units (worth 30 points) are available at the University of Divinity at postgraduate level only:
Enrolment in DP9100S requires:
In Undergraduate programs:
At least one unit at 2000 level or higher in CT AND at least one unit in DP AND at least one unit in Field B; AND demonstrated pastoral competence; AND a successful interview with the CPE Centre Director or delegate.
In Postgraduate programs:
At least one Unit in Field B or in CT AND One Unit in DP; AND demonstrated pastoral competence; AND a successful interview with the CPE Centre Director or delegate.
Enrolment in DP9273S requires satisfactory completion of DP9100S Clinical Pastoral Education Level 1.
These are postgraduate units, which can be taken in undergraduate courses, such as the Bachelor of Ministry, Bachelor of Theology or the Advanced Diploma in Theology and Ministry, as well as in postgraduate courses. The units are taught at postgraduate level so the postgraduate unit fee applies. CPE units cannot be audited. A full time unit is based on a 38-hour week.
Demands of the CPE Program
The CPE program demands much of students, both in time and emotional investment. Encounters with others can be challenging, as can the reflection on those encounters. The discipline of writing up journals, case studies and verbatims, enhances personal integration. Students who are new to hospital or healthcare settings, or multi-faith and multi-cultural settings may find these confronting. CPE is often reported as one of the most rewarding units taken by students.
A unique opportunity to explore your gifts and passion in this foundational program
Stirling’s Catalyst program is designed to provide students with a learning environment that invites a deeper discovery of God’s heart for the world. It’s an opportunity to unearth a deep sense of personal purpose by investigating a range of issues and innovative responses.
The program includes local and international immersions, ongoing mentoring and discussions with change makers from around the world.
Rarely do we discuss what it means to follow Christ outside the walls of a church building.
If you want to connect your passion with purpose then this course is for you.Visit the Catalyst site to find out more