Contextual Education II

Contextual Education II students at Candler.

Contextual Education II

Contextual Education II takes seriously the role of congregations as “teaching parishes.” In Contextual Education II, second year students serve in ecclesial settings, applying theory and learning from the classroom to a ministry context. Find a Con Ed II site. 

At the end of the second year of Contextual Education, learning outcomes will include:

  • Practice of ministry skills in five areas: administration, liturgy (worship and preaching), pastoral calling and congregational care, mission and outreach, and religious education.
  • The benefit of on-site mentoring with an experienced clergyperson.
  • Experience in a clergy-led, supervised reflection group with colleagues.
  • Opportunities to exercise reflective practices of leadership and ministry.
  • Greater clarity in vocational identity and calling.

In Contextual Education II, typically taken in the second year, students practice ministry in ecclesial settings. All MDiv students must successfully complete six credit hours of Contextual Education II. The components of Contextual Education II are:

Fall Semester
  • Contextual Education II CE552a (3 credits)

Spring Semester

  • Contextual Education II CE552b (3 credits)

Site work
Students are able to choose a site for their Contextual Education II placement in which they work eight hours per week. The site, however, must be able to fulfill the five areas of ministry: administration, liturgy, pastoral calling and congregational care, mission/outreach, and religious education. All students are supervised by a site mentor who is an ordained pastor employed full-time in the setting and a graduate of an accredited seminary. Students who are employed in churches typically work in those churches as their second-year placement.

Reflection group
Along with the site work, students are assigned to a reflection group facilitated by an experienced practitioner in ordained pastoral ministry. Reflection groups meet bi-weekly rotating among the local ecclesial settings where students are serving. Reflection groups are organized by geographic location and meet on Mondays throughout the academic year.

Course work
In addition to the site work and reflection group, students are required to enroll in one three-hour Introductory Arts of Ministry (IAM) course and one Contextual Education Elective (CEE). The IAM and CEE courses may be taken in either the fall or spring semester and may be taken independently of each other. For further information on these courses, visit the Candler Registrar website.

Completion Requirements
All site work and reflection group assignments must be completed no later than one week following the last day of classes. Failure to receive a passing grade from the site mentor and the reflection group teaching supervisor will require a student to re-enroll in Contextual Education II the following year. Only upon successful completion of the site work and the reflection group will a student receive the six (6) hours credit for Contextual Education II. (Note: Students receive an "In Progress" grade for the fall semester. Only when both semesters have been satisfactorily completed will a satisfactory (S) grade be awarded for each semester.)

International Students

International students who qualify for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may enroll in Contextual Education II. For more information, contact the Contextual Education handbook and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). International students must receive authorization in the semester prior to their enrollment in Contextual Education II.

At the beginning of the spring semester, students begin the search for their ecclesial placement for Contextual Education II. 

Selecting a Con Ed II Site

Students are responsible for selecting their site for Con Ed II through one of the following ways:

  • Searching our online directory for a list of approved sites
  • Attending the Con Ed Meet and Greet, an informal gathering of site mentors interested in hosting a student.
  • Choosing a site on their own, provided it meets the guidelines for site placements.
  • Making an appointment with Dr. Thomas Elliott, Jr., Director of Contextual Education II, if in need of further assistance in finding a site. Please contact the Office of Contextual Education (404.727.4178) to schedule.

Once a student has chosen a site, they must return the completed Contextual Education II Contract, signed by the student, site mentor, to the Contextual Education office. A student is not enrolled in Contextual Education II without a signed contract on file.

Guidelines for Site Placements

Site Mentor
The site must have a designated on-site mentor to whom the student will be accountable. This person must:

  • Agree to supervise the student's participation at the site.
  • Be an ordained pastor employed full-time at the site and a graduate of an accredited seminary.

Learn more about the requirements and expectations for site mentors in the adjacent tab.

Guidelines for Ecclesial Practices

The site must provide opportunities for students to practice in each of the following five areas of ministry. Examples include:

1. Administration

  • Observe and analyze the budget-making process; discuss with site mentor.
  • Analyze the financial status of the church/site, and give a report to financial committee.
  • Participate in stewardship activities.
  • Observe/participate in administrative boards and committees; create a case study based on observations.
  • Attend a staff meeting (preferably 2-3); write a theological analysis of relevant observations.
  • Plan and implement an intervention or strategy relevant to an administrative meeting.

2. Liturgy

  • Worship
    • Analyze liturgical life of church or setting.
    • Participate in all forms of liturgy.
    • Prepare worship with team.
    • Function in different liturgical roles (reader/presider).
    • Participate in and plan wedding/funeral/baptism.
  • Preaching
    • Analyze several sermons, with emphasis on theological issues.
    • Prepare a sermon; receive mentor feedback.
    • Deliver a sermon; receive feedback from hearers (e.g., Pastor Relations Committee, Lay Team).

3. Pastoral Calling and Congregational Care

  • Visit house bound, hospitalized and institutionalized persons.
  • Listen to stories of parishioners.
  • Participate in a weekly prayer group.
  • Observe and analyze forms of pastoral intervention and referral (e.g., sit in on a pre-marital counseling session).
  • Plan and implement a congregational program to enhance pastoral care.

4. Mission and Outreach

  • Identify the social context of the church in terms of age, class, economics, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
  • Identify social agencies in area and establish contact with them.
  • Identify and participate in the social ministries of the church.
  • Analyze relevant missions in the community in terms of replication, resources needed, etc.

5. Religious Education

  • Design a unit of adult education or children’s education.
  • Teach (implement) the units designed.
  • Lead a Sunday School class.
  • Lead a Bible study.
  • Collaborate with others in shaping a curriculum.

Ecclesial sites and site mentors are essential to the Contextual Education II program, and their participation provides an invaluable opportunity for students to experience the practice of ministry.

Site Mentor Requirements & Expectations

The site mentor must fulfill the following requirements to be approved for the Contextual Education II program:

  • Be an ordained pastor employed full-time in the setting and a graduate of an accredited seminary.
  • Be willing to meet with student in an intentional mentoring relationship for approximately 1.5 hours every other week.
  • Be prepared for each student to work eight hours per week for 26 weeks during the 28-week academic year, engaging in the full life of the site. (Note: Students are not required to be on-site during school breaks.)
  • Be able to accommodate your student's practice in the five areas of ministry with opportunities to experience all of them during the academic year.
  • Be open, both as a pastor and church, to engage in educational ministry, understanding that this is an educational partnership between Candler and the site.

The following are general guidelines about what is expected of site mentors.

A Site Mentor should:

  • review the Five Areas of Ministry to confirm that you and your site are appropriate for Contextual Education II.
  • delegate supervision, when indicated to other key staff/laypersons related to particular ecclesial activities.
  • require written material(s) when appropriate, especially related to responsibilities.
  • complete evaluations at the end of each semester.
  • retain confidentiality of conversation, unless of urgent need.
  • offer positive and professional role models for ministry, time to reflect theologically with the students, feedback to grow in relational and leadership skills, continuing formative evaluations and feedback, and aid in forming future leaders of the church and ecclesial settings.
  • extend hospitality to the student.
  • maintain a mechanism to verify weekly time and schedule (e.g., a time sheet).

Note: Students are not required to be on-site during school break.

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Requirements for Becoming a Site

Ecclesial practices for Contextual Education II are planned around five areas of ministry, noted below. It is possible that each student (or cluster of students) may have a primary responsibility in the site. However, each student must participate in a minimum of two practices in each of the Five Areas of Ministry throughout the academic year.

  1. Administration
  2. Liturgy (worship and preaching)
  3. Pastoral calling and congregational care
  4. Mission and outreach
  5. Religious education

Churches interested in becoming a Contextual Education II site, or needing to update site information, should contact the Office of Contextual Education at or 404.727.4178.

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Five Areas of Ministry: Guidelines for Ecclesial Practices

Learning Covenant: Designed to help students and Site Mentors identify the goals and activities which will guide the Contextual Education experience.

Contextual Education II Contract: Serves to confirm the agreement between the student and the Contextual Education II site and Site Mentor.

Release of Evaluations: Students and alumni may request evaluations regarding their performance in the Contextual Education program to be released to the student, their Board of Ordained Ministry or other organization.

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"I often have trouble seeing myself as a minister, but St. Mark has been a wonderful and safe place for me to explore what that means. I started out doing shorter prayers and children's time, and later preached for the first time in front of a congregation. My Con Ed II experience has both affirmed my calling and brought out new gifts for ministry that I didn't know I had."
-Brenna Lakeson, St. Mark UMC, Atlanta, MDiv '16