The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

Core Courses

MNST 503 Foundations of Christian Spirituality


This class explores the theological foundations and practice of Christian spirituality that lie at the heart of all Christian ministry, whether lay or ordained. We begin with what shapes Christian identity most fundamentally: the grace and covenant of Holy Baptism. Since baptism unites us with Christ in his death and resurrection, we will observe throughout the course how the pattern of the paschal mystery is stamped on every aspect of Christian experience. For instance, we examine what it means to worship and to live eucharistically. We ponder the ways in which the seasons of the church year invite us to fuller participation in Christ. We look at what it means to live in the bonds of charity in community, whether in seminary or in the parish. We discuss some of the disciplines of Christian discipleship such as a rule of life. We learn how to prepare for and use the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And finally, we explore methods of prayer and meditation, developed over centuries in the Christian tradition, as the very life of the Trinity in us.

MNST 511 Pastoral Theology I: Theology and Practice of Pastoral Care


This course examines the distinct vocation and ministry of those called to the ordained priesthood. Drawing on Scripture and the ordinal of The Book of Common Prayer, it looks first at priestly identity and authority in relation to the ministry of all the baptized. After considering what it means to lead a community of faith as “pastor, priest, and teacher,” we move to the practice and underlying theology of several aspects of parish ministry. Relevant canons and portions of The Book of Common Prayer are studied. Approaching pastoral care as the “cure of souls,” the course focuses on pastoral visitation and counsel; preparing people for the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, and marriage; and ministry to the sick, dying, and bereaved. Throughout the course, attention is given to the way various pastoral situations draw both priest and parish more fully into the mystery of Christ. Open to M.Div and DAS.

MNST 512 Pastoral Theology II: Pastoral and Parish Leadership


This course focuses upon the ministry of oversight that the priest shares with the bishop. It explores the nature and communal context of pastoral leadership as a dimension of servant ministry. The course seeks to develop competence and pastoral wisdom in several aspects of parish administration: working with vestries, overseeing parish finances and property, understanding and teaching stewardship, maintaining parish records, hiring staff, and recruiting and equipping lay ministries. The canons pertinent to these areas of responsibility are also studied. Toward the end of the course, we review the spiritual disciplines and patterns of holy living that are needed to sustain the priestly vocation. Open to M.Div and DAS.

MNST 521 Contextual Education I


Contextual education provides students the opportunity to integrate and reflect upon their academic work within active ministry environments and to gain better self-knowledge in the role of congregational leader. This required course consists of three components: (1) an on-site assignment to a local congregation (normally during the second semester of the middler year and the first semester of the senior year; (2) a plenary in congregational studies that deals with current theory and methods as well as leadership development, evangelization strategies, leading a transformation process, and conceptual models for understanding congregational culture and context; and (3) a colloquy in which the students present ministry incidents for reflection and integration of academic disciplines.

MNST 522 Contextual Education II


A continuation of MNST 521.

MNST 525 Introduction to Christian Education and Formation


Offered in the Easter term of the senior year, this course helps the student to think through a theology of Christian formation and develop a pedagogical philosophy for education and formation in the Anglican tradition. Students will explore faith development, teaching and learning styles, group process, and curricula, while developing a foundation for effective education and formation of adults, children, youth, and families. Particular attention is devoted to Christian catechesis. Each student will submit a term project in an area of interest and prospective ministry, bringing together learning from this class and their wider seminary education.


CEMT 553 Many Sides of Sustainability


A course offered to undergraduates (mostly senior natural resource majors) and seminarians. This course has several goals, including helping people steeped in natural sciences and those in theology to begin to develop a common vocabulary. This includes biblical, theological, and practical congregational materials as well as economic and “hard” scientific matters with possible interaction with the University of Georgia’s River Basin Center. There are readings, lectures, seminars and field trips. The major graded piece is a small team project.

MNST 528 Introduction to Spiritual Direction


Spiritual direction is an aspect of pastoral ministry. It is centrally concerned with discerning the workings of God through focused, spiritual conversation. While the course does not, by itself, qualify one to exercise this ministry, it offers a broad overview of it though reading, lecture, and class discussion. It explores the nature of spiritual direction, the role and preparation of the spiritual director, and occasions for spiritual guidance in parish ministry. The course is not a practicum in spiritual direction, although it will take account of personal experience. After noting the pastoral tradition concerned with the “cure of souls,” it concentrates on the current literature that deals, theologically and practically, with this ministry.

MNST 555 Classics of Medieval Spirituality and Spirituality


Most classic texts of Christian spirituality are actually works of spiritual guidance. Rooted in a profound experience of God, they move from prayer to pastoral art, seeking to guide others in the ways of grace through the written word. Over the centuries, Christians in a variety of circumstances have continued to draw wisdom and insight from these spiritual mentors of the past. Through a close reading of primary texts by authors such as Benedict of Nursia, Bernard of Clairvaux, Aelred of Rievaulx, Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, and Julian of Norwich, we sample some of the diverse schools of Western Christian spirituality from the sixth through the fourteenth centuries. The course examines perennial tensions in spiritual theology such as the affirmative and negative ways, contemplation and service, liberty and discipline. While reading these authors critically and in their own historical context, we also explore how their teaching might inform our prayer, theological vision, pastoral oversight, and spiritual counsel.

MNST 557 Leadership: Theory and Practice for Transformation and Growth


This seminar examines contemporary theories of leadership taught in education, government, and business seminars, workshops, and classrooms. Focus is first on “adaptive leadership” (Heifetz), “appreciative leadership” (Cooperrider), the “learning organization” (Senge), and “servant leadership” (Greenleaf), looking intentionally beyond the Church for wisdom that will help participants be better leaders for the Church. These insights will then be viewed from the perspective of work on “pastoral excellence” (Jones) and other research from the “Pulpit and Pew” project and comparable studies, as the students develop their own theologies of pastoral leadership and apply them in case studies.

MNST 561 The Emergent Church in Anglican Perspective

Staff [3]

The ecclesial trend in the United States garnering the most attention in the last decade is widely referred to as the “Emergent Church.” A theological hybrid, liturgically mixed, and denominationally undefined movement, it welcomes a variety of churches, pastoral leaders, inquirers and observers. This seminar will explore the key thinkers (e.g., Butler-Bass, McLaren, Tickle), practitioners (e.g., Jones, Kimball), and practices (e.g., “ancient-future” worship, social-justice concerns, “green” ecclesiology, contemplative youth ministry) that are beginning to define the Emergent Church movement, welcome some of them to campus, and visit nearby exemplars. Students will present a project, paper, or sermons. Limit 12.

MNST 592 Introduction to Liturgical Spanish and Latino Cultures


This course is geared primarily for seniors who are interested in: learning basic Spanish pronunciation and communication skills; the Liturgy in Spanish; and, gaining general awareness and knowledge of Latino cultures.

Basic communication and reading skills will include:

  • The Spanish Alphabet
  • Rules regarding syllable emphasis
  • Key vocabulary (every day words as well as liturgical terms)
  • Basic grammar structure including the present indicative and commands.

The Liturgy, all in Spanish, shall include learning phrases from The Book of Common Prayer that can be used in pastoral situations, different blessings, key prayers, Morning and Evening Prayer Services, and the Eucharist. About one third of the class will be devoted to discussion of Latino cultures prevalent in Latin America as well as the emerging Latino culture in the U.S. This portion of the course will be in English.