By Jeannie Babb, T'12, T'13
Every summer, a group of clergy, academics, and other theologically trained professionals gather in Sewanee to work toward obtaining advanced degrees. Students come from New Zealand, Malawi, Brazil, the Caribbean, Canada, and across the United States. Once back home, they continue their writing and research throughout the year. While some students remain in Sewanee all year, most have taken four to six summers to complete an advanced degree—until now.
In 2021, the School of Theology began offering hybrid classes during the academic year, allowing advanced degree students to engage with instructors either remotely or in person, and to meet via Zoom for small group discussions. Because students can participate year-round, the hybrid courses greatly shorten the time required to complete the coursework for a degree.
The Rev. Dr. Benjamin King serves as director of advanced degrees as well as professor of Christian history and associate dean for academic affairs. King says, “The hybrid classes offered in the fall and spring semesters allow us to bring this very high level of instruction to our students where they are.”
The School of Theology offers two advanced degrees: master of sacred theology (S.T.M.) and doctor of ministry (D.Min.). The S.T.M. is an academic degree for those who have already completed a masters-level theology degree. The S.T.M. in Anglican Studies is a concentration that provides formation in the Anglican tradition for students who completed theological training in another Christian tradition. The D.Min. program is designed for clergy who have been active in ordained ministry at least three years to attain excellence in the practice of ministry. As well as a general D.Min. degree, the program offers concentrations in liturgy and preaching.
Advanced degree students will continue to begin their studies with a summer term in Sewanee. “We want them to begin here, because it’s important to know the place,” King says.” The experience of the summer term is not only in the classroom but also the experience of daily Eucharist and of communal life. This is a community of prayer and worship.” Doctor of ministry students take turns preaching and presiding at daily Eucharist.
“Advanced degree students learn from some of the brightest theological scholars from across the Anglican Communion—not only Sewanee professors, but also visiting instructors from Harvard, Candler, Duke, Vanderbilt, and other research institutions,” King says. “They love to teach here.”
As an example, the 2023 summer courses are: The Spirituality of Financial Leadership: Shaping Stewardship for Mission and Ministry (Dr. Steven Tomlinson); Ancient and Modern Guides for the Spiritual Life of the Pastor (The Rev. Julia Gatta, Ph.D.); Early Christian Initiation and Eucharist (The Rev. Canon Maxwell E. Johnson. Ph.D.); Rachel's Tears, Hannah's Hopes: Pastoral Liturgies Related to Childbearing, Child loss, Adoption, and Infertility (The Rev. Hilary Bogert-Winkler, Ph.D.); and Preaching with(in) the Global Communion: Learning from International Homiletics (The Rev. David Stark, Th.D).
“It is not only the instructors who bring so much to the program, but also studying alongside fellow clergy and professionals of the highest caliber,” King says. He quotes a recent D.Min. graduate, Bishop Jim White, of blessed memory: “The real gift is learning as much from your peers as from the instructors.”
In addition to courses, each student completes a project or thesis related to their ministry. “No one is required to determine the project before they apply,” King says. “Most often, it emerges after taking a few classes and choosing a mentor who helps shape the project. It is a very rewarding process for everyone involved.”
No application fee or GRE score is required, and financial aid is available to help with tuition for applications received before April 1, 2023. The 2023 Advanced Degree Summer session runs June 12-30.