[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Eastern Mennonite Seminary has introduced a number of newly configured courses for the 2005-06 academic year. According to Associate Dean Sara Wenger Shenk, these reconceived courses in part grew out of a curriculum review that EMS undertook this year. (Read the full list.)
“The review involved several dimensions,” said Shenk. “One dimension involved finding a way to reduce the core curriculum to allow students more flexibility in their course selections. Another was based on comments from current students and alumni who provided helpful feedback about what more they would like to be able to study.” The seminary is also listening to calls from various church conferences and constituencies.
“These courses are not generated entirely new out of the blue,” says Shenk. “Rather, there is an evolution; a listening to issues and dilemmas raised by cultural realities or by students.”
For example, Dr. Brenda Martin Hurst’s Rituals of the Christian Church explores both the theology and practice of rituals of the church. Included are primary rituals, such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, weddings and funerals as well as rituals of healing, ordination and dedication or blessing.
“A pastor who can lead and conduct the rituals of baptism, communion, weddings and funerals well and with integrity goes a long, long way to earning appropriate pastoral authority and leadership,” says Hurst. “It's imperative that students think carefully about both the theology of these rituals and about how these rituals function in the life of the faith community. By the end of the course, I would like students to feel informed and competent to lead these rituals in ways that form and transform the congregations they serve.”
The curriculum review this year provided the occasion for professors to reflect more broadly on particular offerings, particularly in their concentration. Changes could then be made based on feedback they received and on what they think will work better for students in a given concentration.
“I have included some teaching on rituals both in the Practice of Christian worship class and the Formation in Ministry class, but covering these huge topics in just a few weeks is just not enough," says Hurst. "I am excited about having a whole course on rituals by themselves. Our students have been asking for this, so we are answering that request.”Gerald Shenk , who is teaching three of the courses, looks in a similar direction. “These are courses that scratch where we itch,” he says. Christian Encounter with the Religious “Other,” for example, is about how to be truly Christian in our encounters with persons of a different faith. Religious Imagination in Contemporary Culture picks up where most courses let go: at the margins, the borderlands where Christian faith meets popular culture. And Experimental Congregations--Field Research is a chance to visit congregations that are very different from the familiar, the routine, the predictable."
In all, 10 newly designed classes have been added. For more information on these or other courses at EMS, please contact your faculty advisor or Don Yoder at or (540) 432-4257.