Additional Academic Information

Mentored Ministry

Description and Purpose of Mentored Ministry

Mentored Ministry (MM) at Eastern Mennonite Seminary refers to a variety of experiential learning opportunities within the overall curriculum. The purpose of Mentored Ministry is to serve the overall seminary curriculum by providing opportunities to practice ministerial and public leadership that becomes transformative as one increasingly integrates wise interpretation, maturing practice, and discerning communication to engage God’s saving mission in the world, embodied in Jesus Christ. Common to each of the programs within the Mentored Ministry Curriculum is an individual mentor relationship.

Requirements :
Nine (9SH) of MM credit is required for the MDiv, normally 6SH in Formation in Ministry and three in a track specific MM Internship. Six (6SH) of MM credit is required for the MACL degree.

Core course: 601/602 Formation in Ministry I&II (6SH):

This “core” of the MM curriculum is a two semester (3SH per semester) course that includes an internship. Participants spend at least half of their ministry practice time in a congregational setting. Formation in ministry is required of MDiv and MACL students.

MM Internship possibilities (minimum of 3SH of track specific MM required; maximum of 9SH encouraged):

  • 601 Clinical Pastoral Education I&II (CPE for 6SH) – CPE is offered in two different formats. An Extended Unit spans the two semesters of the academic year. A “full-time” Summer Unit spans ten weeks. Advanced CPE may be an option for those developing a pastoral care specialty.
  • 781 Mentored Ministry Internship (2-6 SH)* Mentored Internship 1-3 SH- A Mentored Internship may be arranged with the office of Mentored Ministry in a broad variety of local ministry settings. For each hour of credit, 55 hours of ministry practice/reflection is expected, including a 2-hour Colloquy meeting, six times each semester. Contact the Mentored Ministry Office for details, options and approval.
  • Mentored Ministry Residency 1-3 SH- A Mentored Ministry Residency is designed for those who seek a ministry experience unavailable in the local area. Examples: urban ministry, summer pastoral internship, cross-cultural internship. Contact the Mentored Ministry Office for options, procedures and approval.
  • 742 Teaching Mentorship (1-3 SH) EMS students, particularly those in the MDiv Academic Track may apply for a Teaching Mentorship in the EMU Bible and Religion Department. Participation in this mentorship must follow Formation in Ministry I&II (or equivalent) and the completion of at least 18 hours of seminary coursework. There is a limit of one internship per semester. Contact the Mentored Ministry Office for options, procedures and an application.
  • The following courses may also serve as Mentored Ministry internships:


  1. A minimum of 9SH of Mentored Ministry (MM) credits are required for the MDiv; a maximum of 15SH of MM may be earned.
  2. A minimum of 3SH of the Mentored Ministry credits shall be earned in a congregational context. This is typically achieved through Formation in Ministry. Students in the MDiv Pastoral Ministry Track shall earn a minimum of 6SH of MM credit in the congregational context.
  3. Formation in Ministry (6SH) is to be taken in the middle phase of a student’s seminary program. A prerequisite is Formation in God’s Story I&II and approval of degree candidacy.
  4. Clinical Pastoral Education (6SH) may be taken at any point during the seminary experience excepting when a student is enrolled in another MM program. CPE is recommended for students in the Chaplaincy or Pastoral Counseling concentrations in the MDiv Specialized Ministries Track.

Exceptions :

  1. A student with significant congregational ministry experience (5 years or more) may petition to substitute Clinical Pastoral Education (6SH) in place of Formation in Ministry I&II to meet the Mentored Ministry “core” requirement.
  2. A student with significant ministry experience may petition for a waiver of 3SH of MM credit.

Cross-Cultural Experience

EMU educates students to live in a global context. The seminary places a high value on cross-cultural encounters. Students are best equipped for ministry in our diverse world through significant engagement with people and cultures quite different from their own. The context of this learning can provide a most fruitful dimension for theological reflection.

There are strong biblical precedents for cross-cultural learning. In the biblical world, people were at times called by God to encounter new cultures. We remember Abraham wandering towards the promise, Moses and Israel in the desert, Jesus moving about the fringes, Paul in the heart of the Roman Empire. All of these journeys took people away from home into unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous territory. Jesus sent his followers into all the world, not only to teach others but to listen and learn as they go. Following that call can create a sense of “wilderness,” where one struggles with God, self, and others. People often grow as disciples of Christ where they do not have the usual securities and support to alleviate intellectual, spiritual and physical discomfort.

The cross-cultural encounter can help us better understand the ways that our own culture stands in tension with the claims of Christ in Scripture. Cross-cultural engagement can also help develop understanding and friendships that contribute to healing and reconciliation across religious and ethnic divisions in the communities where we live and work. Our Anabaptist convictions regarding reconciliation and peacebuilding call us to help alleviate suspicion among diverse peoples which can so readily result in alienation or escalate tensions that break into dangerous violence.

In academic pursuits we sometimes engage the “other” as objects of study rather than as true conversation partners. In contrast, an authentic cross-cultural encounter offers the possibility of life-changing mutual growth and change. We grow spiritually when we are open to discover the presence and work of God within the “other.” Therefore, we seek to cultivate in our students the ability to claim their own identity (personal, family, ethnic, confessional) while extending hospitality (respect, space, time, openness) to others. This tension must not blur or obliterate genuine distinctions.

We intend for our students to be enriched by encountering otherness as well as discerning what cultural patterns are or are not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such discerning can help us clarify our own distinctives and convictions. We also note that it may be as difficult to relate to a “foreign” local culture as to acclimate to the “exotic” culture of another country. We need safe spaces to learn about diversity, withindiversity, and from diversity. Ironically, the more “at home” we become in our own identity and tradition (tested in encounters with various “others”) the more generous of spirit we can become toward diverse others.

EMS requires a cross-cultural experience. The experience may involve a variety of learning strategies such as ministry in a context significantly “foreign” to one’s own, living with a host family while learning another language, or significant interaction with people of another religion. More specifically, students may fulfill the curriculum requirement in one of the following ways:

  1. participating in a cross-cultural experience led by seminary faculty;
  2. taking a “hybrid” course that combines on-line instruction with a service or mission assignment;
  3. arranging a mentored ministry internship with significant cross-cultural dimensions; or
  4. developing an alternative proposal for a cross-cultural encounter with approval by the director for cross-cultural studies. We will honor creativity and originality in the development of such proposals.

In cases where students bring a significant prior cross-cultural experience (at least one year in ministry), they may take the 1SH Integration Seminar for reflection on their cultural and theological learnings. This alternative is also available to international students comparing and reflecting on ministry within the U.S. context.

Directed Studies

Directed Studies refers to courses on specific issues or areas not covered by any of the standard offerings. These studies may be requested by the student or suggested by an instructor. Approval by the instructor and the associate dean is required. Methodology in directed studies may involve assigned readings, written reports or any other methods the supervising instructor chooses.

A student should have credit for three courses at EMS and must qualify academically for directed study in the judgment of the associate dean before approval is granted. A limited number of hours in directed study will be applied toward a degree. In the case of the MDiv up to 10 hours may be applied. In the MACL program, six or seven hours may be applied. In an MAR program, the number of hours is determined by the faculty advisor.

Distance Learning

The seminary offers a number of courses for students at a distance from the campus. The courses use online computer technology to link students with the instructor and each other. The program of distance learning is under development. Fifteen courses are currently available, with six or seven being offered each year. International students must document language skills and the ability to pay tuition fees as stated in the admissions section for international students.

Old Testament: Text in Context 
New Testament: Text in Context 
The Church in Mission 
Mennonite History 
Anabaptism Today: Learning with Yoder and Hauerwas 
Interpreting the Biblical Text 
Pastoral Care 
Prayer in the Faith Tradition 
Ethics and Nonviolence: Sermon on the Mount 
Leadership and Administration 
Mennonite Faith and Polity 
Managing Congregational Change and Conflict
Christ in a Communication Culture
Money, Ministry and Me
Spiritual Direction In and Beyond the Church
Cross-cultural Discipleship (a BLESS course)
Jesus Movement in the First Century (a BLESS course)
Christian Movement in the Mediterranean (a BLESS course)

(For course descriptions see the “Courses” section of the catalog or click on the course above)

The tuition costs are the same as on-campus rates. For a schedule of these courses and further information contact the seminary admissions office at 800-710-7871 or email

More Information on Distance Learning

Summer Offerings

May and June offer a variety of summer school opportunities. A Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation is offered in the month of June. In addition, every May and June courses are offered in a variety of formats. An intensive unit of CPE is offered from mid-June to mid-August.

Students who qualify may take directed studies in areas not covered by courses offered in the curriculum. Also, ministry internships may be arranged through the director of field education.

School for Leadership Training

This annual event the third week of January has a long-standing tradition on the university campus. It has developed from a “Ministers Week” into a “School for Leadership Training” for lay leaders, pastors and current seminary students.

Many classes on a variety of subjects are planned. Bible studies, workshops and inspirational addresses round out the event. The program is integrated with the seminary schedule, allowing students to interact with attenders. Continuing education credit is offered to those attending the entire event. For students the SLTclasses and plenary addresses normally replace the regular class work for the week.

More Information on School for Leadership Training

John Coffman Center- Developing Missional Leadership

The John Coffman Center at Eastern Mennonite Seminary offers non-traditional, experiential learning that combines creative study with practical mission and service in a cross-cultural setting. In close cooperation with Mennonite mission agencies, the John Coffman Center has launched the Biblical Lands Educational Seminars and Service program. This unique graduate study program focuses on the missional leadership of Jesus and Paul in the first century Roman Empire as relevant and effective models for leaders in the globalized world of the 21st century.

By offering key courses to people where they are serving, the John Coffman Center facilitates creative missiological reflection among an emerging generation of leaders who are already responding to the call of Jesus to go into the world with the good news. To make this kind of study possible, the John Coffman Center administers the Samuel Grant, a full-tuition, per-course scholarship that makes BLESS and other online Eastern Mennonite Seminary courses available at no cost for persons in a mission or service assignment.

In addition to the BLESS program, the John Coffman Center serves the church and mission organizations through conferences, consultations, teaching, seminars and other specialized services in the area of missions, missional leadership, evangelism, church development, and cross-cultural studies.

Extension Program in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

EMS at Lancaster is an approved complete degree extension site. Students may earn a Master of Divinity degree or a Certificate in Theological Studies or Certificate in Ministry Studies.

The curriculum at the Pennsylvania extension site matches the curriculum on main campus while making minor adjustments for size and setting. The extension focuses on core curriculum courses, about six each semester, that are deemed “Anabaptist-critical” for leadership in Mennonite and Anabaptist-related congregations.

The extension in Pennsylvania functions with broad administrative support from main campus. This includes but is not limited to –

  • Admissions: The EMS Director of Admissions facilitates the approval for admission of all students – part-time, certificate and degree-seeking – according to the established policies of EMS
  • Registrar: The EMS Associate Dean and Registrar handle official academic record-keeping and course rating decisions pertaining to students at the Pennsylvania site.
  • Billing and Bookkeeping: All financial transactions for the extension are handled on main campus in Virginia – student billing, faculty and staff payroll, audits, etc.

Financial Aid: Students at the extension are eligible for Church Matching Grants. Students need to be admitted to a degree program and enrolled for at least five (5) credit hours in a semester.

Collaboration: A unique feature of the extension program in Pennsylvania is the collaborative agreements developed with nearby ATS-accredited seminaries.

  • Evangelical Theological Seminary, Myerstown, PA
  • Biblical Seminary, Hatfield, PA
  • Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, PA

Students who wish to take courses for credit offered through EMS at Lancaster are admitted for study through the normal admissions process for the Seminary. They receive EMU identification numbers and are eligible to receive library and information services.

Library Services: EMU/S in Pennsylvania is supported by the Hartzler Library on the university main campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The catalog, a wide variety of periodicals, reference works and database search capabilities are available online. Books and library materials are regularly transported between the main campus and the Lancaster, Pennsylvania center. Hartzler Library is the primary library resource for students at the extension.

In addition, EMS in Pennsylvania has entered into formal agreements for access privileges and services with three libraries containing extensive theological resources. These libraries are within 30 minutes driving distance of most students and are open during regular business hours and some evenings and weekends. They are each staffed by library professionals equipped to assist the research and reference needs of students.

  • Philip Schaff Library at Lancaster Theological Seminary
  • Lancaster Mennonite Historical Library attached to the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
  • Biblical Seminary Library, Hatfield, PA

Information Systems and Technological Support: The offices and classroom at the extension in Lancaster are linked to the main campus computer network. Various databases, student records, budgets, instructional technologies are all accessible from EMU at Lancaster. The Information Systems department for main campus monitors and maintains the information technology in Pennsylvania. There is a high speed wireless connection to the internet for students and faculty.

Small is Beautiful: In addition to the library, technology and instructional services identified above, students in the Seminary’s extension program enjoy the benefits of a small program. Students and faculty function on a first-name basis; there is a high level of familiarity and collegiality among participants. Students appreciate the individualized attention they receive from instructors and support staff. Classes meet in the evenings or on weekends.

Students in Pennsylvania are often non-traditional, part-time students, who are employed in a ministry setting or the marketplace. There are fewer structures for organized student life on campus. However, it is common for students to take turns bringing food to share with the class. Many of students also interact in other ministry settings.

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