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Ministry Formation Sequence

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Here you will find all of the necessary information about Bethany's Ministry Formation sequence, guidelines and requirements.

Click on the following links to navigate this site:

Denominational Student Placement Guidelines
Ministry Formation Information
Ministry Formation Requirements
Ministry Formation Procedure and Checklist
Ministry Formation Sequence Documents to download
Information About Ministry Formation Elective



Church of the Brethren Student Placement Guidelines Bethany Theological Seminary

I. Two broad categories of student placements should be differentiated

A. Persons who are primarily part-time pastors and secondly students. These persons will serve in pastoral or pastoral staff positions. They will go through the Church of the Brethren placement process and will generally be called to an open-ended agreement for service. These persons will be understood to have "a student placement" (see II below).

B. Students who require ministry experiences as a part of their seminary program will be placed in various defined length ministry positions through seminary contacts. These persons will be understood to have "Ministry Formation Placements" and will work through the seminary ministry formation office (see III below)

II. Student placements

A. Interpretation will be important for both congregations and the pastors who seek to serve in student placements. In general, it will be understood that since the student pastor must have adequate time for school and study, a balance must be found between school and ministry. This balance should be a part of the negotiation, agreement, and ongoing evaluation between the student pastor and the congregation, with the assistance of the District Executive/Minister as needed. Perhaps churches could expect 20-25 hours per week. Certain pastoral situations, like funerals, would take precedence over school.

B. The basic understandings regarding the Church of the Brethren placement process would apply to student placements. Although the District Executive/Minister will be the key organizational person, the faculty for Ministry Formation at the seminary should be informed as a part of the process.

C. Any person desiring a student placement in a Church of the Brethren congregation may start the process but must secure admission to a seminary before placement is finalized. The student's interest in a student placement should be noted on the seminary application.

D. Students from various areas in the Church of the Brethren who express interest in student pastorates, near the main campus of Bethany Theological Seminary, the Susquehanna Valley Satellite, or a non-Brethren seminary, will go through their own District Executive/Minister to begin the placement process. The process, for those not ordained, is to have an interview with the appropriate District Ministry Commission.

E. When the Pastoral Profile is filled out, it should have a letter of affirmation from that interview attached for circulation. It is appropriate for the Pastoral Profile to be restricted to a particular district when general placement is not being considered.

F. If problems arise for a pastor in a student placement, the first call will be to the District Executive/Minister for that congregation.

G. When a pastor who has been attending seminary graduates, the District Executive/Minister should facilitate a congregational/pastoral review to determine the appropriateness of continuing the relationship.


III. Ministry Formation Placements*

A. The faculty for Ministry Formation and the District Executive/Minister will work directly with congregations and other church agencies to develop ministry opportunities for students. These opportunities will generally be for a fixed length of tenure and part-time in nature. The primary decision on the part of the congregation or agency will be to participate in the Ministry Formation Program of the seminary. Within the context of that existing decision, individual candidates will be considered in terms of their ability to participate in the program, not essentially on the gifts or graces they already bring to the position.

B. Students will submit an application to be considered for placement in the Ministry Formation process by mid-February of the academic year prior to the experience. Names of students who have applied for a Ministry Formation placement are shared with faculty and the District Executive/Minister of the sending district.

C. Upon acceptance into the Ministry Formation placement process, the students are notified of potential sites for placement. The seminary will advertise opportunities among students and students will express interest to seminary personnel. After consulting with the District Executive/Minister of the receiving district, the seminary will invite a congregation or agency to consider a particular new student for the Ministry Formation placement. This faculty contact will allow conversation about the use the student will make of the placement in his/her program.

D. Proposed student placements are shared with faculty and receiving District Executives/Ministers prior to the onset of the student working in the congregation/ministry setting.

E. If the congregation or student experiences problems in the placement, they will notify Ministry Formation Faculty who will keep the District Executive/Minister informed as deemed appropriate. If the District Executive/Minister becomes aware of a concern in placement, he/she will notify the Ministry Formation Faculty.

*In the Church of the Brethren, credentialing of ministers through licensing and ordination is assigned to districts by Annual Conference. Therefore, licensed and ordained ministers are accountable to district ministry commissions and district boards, and the District Executive/Minister acts as the placement person on behalf of the district. This policy is operative for the student placement mentioned in this paper. The congregation where the student serves and the sending district may be held legally liable for the student minister's moral, ethical, and professional misconduct. Ministry Formation placements, however, are uniquely different in that Bethany Theological Seminary carries the primary placement responsibility, as defined in this paper. Therefore, as the placement institution, the seminary assumes the liability that could result from the student minister's moral, ethical, and professional misconduct.

Approved by Bethany Theological Seminary and the Ministry Office of the General Board in consultation with Ministry Advisory Council, October 1999. Office of Ministry, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, Illinois 60210-1694



Ministry Formation

The MDiv curriculum presupposes the centrality of ministry formation, to which the rest of the curricular program contributes in various ways. The ministry formation process provides opportunities for students to bring together ministry experience in multiple contexts, supervised reflection designed to enhance that experience, and academic course work which informs this reflection.

Ministry formation is rooted in the praxis of ministry, a process of learning ministry by doing ministry. To that end, students participate in two required ministry experiences in two different ministry contexts. The reflective process related to these experiences involves faculty, supervisor, and peers, and is designed to lead students to an integration of personal and professional identity, and academic and practical proficiency. The process also enhances the student's ability to articulate faith within concrete life experiences and the changing dynamics of today's world.

Ministry formation consists of the following components:

Exegeting the Call and Culture of Ministry As the title suggests, this course explores both the call and identity of the minister and the cultural context in which specific ministries take shape. Among the various ministry contexts that students may be considering, particular attention is given to pastoral and other congregational ministries. A three-hour course held over two semesters (1.5 hours each semester), F-110A is offered in the fall of each year and F-110B is offered in the spring of each year. This course is designed to prepare students to participate in the middler year ministry formation process and to assist the student in spiritual formation and discernment of call.

Middler Year
Ministry Formation Each student participates in a nine-month, part-time ministry placement, concurrent with classes, in an approved congregation or other ministry setting. This supervised experience provides the basis for reflection in the ministry formation group. The class component consists of a three-hour course in both the fall and spring semesters. F-301 (a and b) are offered each year.

Senior Year
M Div. Review This course is designed to synthesize and reflect upon each student's cumulative course work and field education experience. In preparation for this course, each student assembles a portfolio of representative papers and reports from prior courses and ministry placements. The course culminates in a review of each student by a faculty committee to assess the student's fulfillment of the objectives of the MDiv Program F-302 is a three-hour course offered each fall semester.

Ministry Formation Elective

In addition to the four ministry formation courses described above, three hours of credit are granted for the second required ministry experience and related reflection process. As noted, the second experience takes place in a different ministry context than that of the middler year placement. Options for fulfilling this requirement include:



Ministry Formation Procedure

Please note the following process for securing Ministry Formation sites for the academic year 2010-2011:

Prerequisites for enrollment in Ministry Formation 301 A&B include:

  • Completion of 27 credit hours, including Exegeting the Call and Culture of Ministry, Introduction to Theological Reflection, a course in Biblical Studies and a course in Ministry Studies,
  • Admission to the MDiv program,
  • Certification by faculty of readiness to participate in a ministry placement and in Ministry Formation.


Initial Notification

Students wishing to participate in Ministry Formation during the forthcoming academic year must contact the Ministry Formation Faculty by Thanksgiving break of the current year to notify the faculty of their interest.

The same students must also attend the first class session of F-110 for Ministry Formation Orientation (Spring term), if not already enrolled.


Approval Process

Faculty will approve students for Ministry Formation Placement at their 1st February Faculty Meeting. The Ministry Formation Faculty will notify each student of the Faculty decision.

Students approved by Faculty for Ministry Formation Placement will work with the Ministry Formation Faculty to arrange a site and supervisor, and to get a Job Description from the site. This process must be completed by April 1st of the spring before placement. If the student already has a site, a job description and other paperwork (see Ministry Formation Faculty) must be submitted by the above date.

Faculty will consider approval of site placements during the April Faculty Meeting. Students whose sites and supervisors are approved by Faculty will be given a formal agreement which is to be signed by the student, someone designated by the site as the approved supervisor, and Tara Hornbacker on behalf of Bethany. April 30 is the deadline for returning the signed agreement to The Ministry Formation Faculty.


Checklist for Ministry Formation Placement:

[_] Minister-in-training (MIT) fills out application for Ministry Formation experience

[_] Review with MIT's advisor or faculty review of MIT's readiness for this experience

[_] Information gathered by MIT as well as Ministry Formation faculty to find appropriate site

[_] Identification of possible ministry sites


Ministry Formation site must have:

[_] Part-time work for nine months

[_] Supervisor on site or nearby who can offer 1 hr/week to MIT

[_] Peer or Teaching Committee who can meet monthly with MIT

[_] Stipend base of $3,000 (may be negotiated as in-kind payments)

[_] Reimbursement for mileage related to ministry assignment

[_] Formal visit to ministry site if deemed appropriate or necessary (Optional)

[_] Formal agreement between ministry site, MIT, and Assistant Professor of Ministry Formation for Ministry

     Formation to occur at the site and negotiate starting date

[_] Ministry Formation retreat at or before the beginning of Semester One.

[_] Orientation for supervisors and Teaching Committee

[_] Ministry Formation begins on negotiated starting date

[_] Learning Serving Covenant Completed

*Hard copies available by request.


Ministry Formation Documents to download

Ministry Formation Application

Wishlist Form


For more information about Ministry Formation, contact:

Dan PooleDan Poole, Coordinator for Ministry Formation
     pooleda@bethanyseminary.edu      765-983-1812


Tara HornbackerTara Hornbacker, Professor of Ministry Formation
     hornbta@bethanyseminary.edu     765-983-1817


Staci Williams
(Master of Divinity Connections)

"Determined to make it happen"

My call came to me as I was sitting at a spiritual retreat talking about women in ministry. Suddenly I just had this overwhelming feeling that I knew I was supposed to be one of those women. That event started me on a journey that has been remarkable, wonderful, challenging, and sometimes scary. But one certainty has been clear since the beginning: Bethany Theological Seminary was going to be a part of that journey. It took me six years to finish my undergraduate degree, and then I took a year to rest, but I finally made it here!