Candler School of Theology is offering a track for the Master of Divinity in which the Contextual Education requirements will be fulfilled through enrollment in a hybrid Teaching Parish site. Students in this track will have the ability to complete other degree requirements in an online context. The local church or a campus ministry is the Contextual Education site in Teaching Parish.
Student pastors carry out the responsibilities of clergy in these settings and learning outcomes include the following:
- The ability to exercise reflective practices of leadership and ministry
- An informed understanding of vocation as a practitioner, leader, and public theologian
- A greater understanding of personal, religious identity and ongoing spiritual growth
- A support network of peers and supervision by an experienced pastor
- Understanding of unique gifts for service and leadership in the Church
- The development of practical skills essential to the role of a pastor
This program is a cooperative venture between Candler and United Methodist Church Conferences, other denominations and non-denominational churches. For UMC students, normally only those students who are certified candidates or in process for ordained United Methodist ministry are considered for appointment. In consultation with the Director of Teaching Parish at Candler, students will need to contact the District Superintendent in their home UMC Conference to request an appointment. If this is being requested in relation to a staff position in a larger church, the student should work first with the Senior pastor/leader of the church in making this request.
For other denominational and non-denominational churches, students will need to already have a negotiated ministry site position and the appropriate approval and support from their judicatories or boards to be eligible for enrollment.
Congregation and campus ministries partner with Candler in educating leaders for the church’s ministries in the world by providing the following:
- opportunities to lead, serve, and practice ministry
- a healthy and redemptive community of faith
- an understanding of the priority of seminary education and study
Student pastor positions can be in congregations or campus ministries, are usually part-time (minimum of 10 hours required), and provide compensation from the congregation or campus ministry (decided by the ministry site). Student pastors should have a clear role and set of responsibilities in these positions. The relationship between the congregation/campus ministry is secured by a covenantal contract signed by the student, judicatory (District Superintendent in UMC, board or other entity in other denominations or non-denominational churches) and the Director of Teaching Parish at Candler.
Student-pastors will meet online in a Teaching Parish reflection group which meets biweekly on Mondays throughout the fall and spring semesters. Together students learn to reflect theologically upon faith and ministry, share pastoral verbatims, learn church, community, and systems analysis, explore ministry and money, and practice Bible study and preaching. Each reflection group is led by a Supervising Pastor who has been chosen for this responsibility. The Supervising Pastor’s job is to lead the Teaching Parish group in its work, evaluate each student-pastor’s performance, and provide individual counsel to each student pastor. Though most students continue in their ministry positions, Teaching Parish reflection groups do not meet during the summer.
In addition, Teaching Parish students are encouraged to participate in a “Formation Community.” These communities of discernment and commitment are animated by distinct charisms that orient the rule of life of each community. Communities are organized around common prayer and celebration, and each is coordinated by a student rector and a faculty chaplain who provides worship leadership and long-term guidance. The Director of Formation Communities organizes these communities.
Due to immigration regulations limiting off-campus employment to an 18-month term of service, international students will not be considered for a student pastor position in their first year of study if their ministry site is located in the United States. International students may be considered for domestic positions during their final 18 months of study at Candler. For additional information regarding international students and student-pastor position, please contact the Office of Admission at (404) 727-6326.
Sample class requirements:
- Fall semester: online Contextualized Introductory Arts of Ministry Class and Contextual Education Ia for Teaching Parish
- Spring semester: Contextual Education Ib for Teaching Parish
- Fall semester: Contextual Education IIa Teaching Parish
- Spring semester: Contextual Education IIb Teaching Parish
- Either semester: online CEE and online IAM
- Teaching Parish for one or two hours of credit each semester.
A maximum of 14 credit hours is granted for the Teaching Parish Program.
For further information, including application, contact Dr. Thomas Elliott Jr., Director, at (404) 727-4178 or firstname.lastname@example.org.