Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry
Leadership Training Programs - Course Descriptions
AGRARIANISM AND THE BIBLE
Agrarianism stresses the need for us to structure our lives in order that we might live in healthful relationship with everything around us: humans, animals, plants, and the land. The purpose of this course will be to read biblical passages in light of the recent agrarian thinking of writers such as Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, and Norman Wirzba. How does the Bible portray humanity? In relationship to the earth and other living creatures? Can we find resources within scripture to help us live more peaceably and justly with all aspects of our world? The course will focus closely on questions such as these within a specifically prairie context.
Note: this course is not part of the Rural DMin program, but it can still be taken for credit by Rural DMin students.
The focus of this course is on developing process intelligence, leadership and change capacities for the benefit of communities and organizations through Appreciative Inquiry and allied facilitation approaches. A holistic view of person, persons, and community is reflected throughout this course.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a new (early 1990’s) and innovative set of approaches to change and renewal that have been shown to build capacity, to engage and inspire, and to energize individuals, teams, communities and organizations toward positive outcomes and impacts. AI processes help groups to identify successes, strengths and then build on those assets to take advantage of new opportunities and deliver meaningful results.
Capstone Colloquium in Rural Community Leadership and Ministry
This course, which normally comes at the end of the Rural DMin program, is intended to help participants summarize and reflect on their learning in the program. It is an opportunity for the peer cohort to assist one another in the shaping and completion of the final work of the degree, especially the thesis project. The course will consist of some discussion of scholarly interpretive theories and practices that might relate to the study of rural communities and congregations, and the presentation of thesis work of the members of the DMin cohort.
At the end of the course, participants should be able to:
- Identify some scholarly modes of interpretation
- Critique their thesis projects in relation to these interpretive theories/patterns
- Recognize in their own thesis projects areas of accomplishment and areas requiring further work
- Assist peers in developing and critiquing their thesis projects
- Articulate the theological import of their thesis projects
- Express what is at stake for themselves, personally and pastorally, in rural community leadership and ministry.
COACHING, NATURAL CHURCH DEVELOPMENT AND THE PRACTICE OF DEVELOPING A HEALTHY AND MISSIONAL CONGREGATION
This course will develop students' skills in:
Coaching for Mission: This will teach the basic skills of missional coaching and the critical skills of coaching in the development of leaders and systems for ministry.
Missional leadership: This part of the class will explore basic arenas for congregational leadership, especially looking into two key areas: a) personal development as a disciple/witness/leader and b) ways to look at ministry within a congregational setting in order to advance God’s purpose through enhanced and healthier practices within congregational life.
Natural Church Development: Students will learn to use the NCD tool as an entry point for exploring the congregation’s capacity for ministry. Students will learn to explore congregational life in an organic model and to delve into indicators in order to develop core strategies that will help the congregation be more fruitful for mission.
CONVERSATIONS IN INDIGENOUS INTERCULTURAL MINISTRY
This 5-day course will introduce the students to contemporary Native North American (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) contexts of ministry and mission. Approaches will include: worldview concepts of spirituality, issues in culture and faith, and ministry as community development.
Moving beyond the notion of multi-culturalism, the course will engage these approaches from an intercultural vantage point. The course will offer a perspective framed by the historic mission and ministry issues characterizing colonial mission in Canada.
The current climate of reconciliation between Native peoples in Canada and the wider Canadian population will form a consistent backdrop for discussions in the classes. The course will use case studies as well as community and personal illustrations from the instructor.
Students taking the course for credit must have Masters Degree in a theological discipline.
Registrations for credit and audit are limited.
The course offers credit for STU DMin students as a required “tools” course or as an elective.
This course will explore the dynamics particular to developing and sustaining ecumenical ministry initiatives in congregational settings. It covers the history and structures of such ministries, and includes the study of practical issues such as starting up and forming covenants and agreements, the pastoral challenges, and the theological questions that emerge. The course will also engage participants in questions of Christian identity and otherness.
Everyone eats -- and eating is an act with moral, theological, political and social ramifications. This MTS/MDiv level course will explore the philosophical assumptions underlying our food production system in the light of theological guidance from our Christian tradition about the purpose of human life, the place of community, and our relationship to the land. It will critically examine the causes of the current farm crisis and the decline of rural communities. Exposing the myths which inform current food production and consumption practices will open the way to envisioning alternative models based on Christian perspectives and values.
This graduate course is the first in our DMin (Doctor of Ministry Degree) in Rural Ministry and Community Development. It introduces students to the cohort model of study, builds relationships and establishes protocols for the overall program. The course examines Canadian rural realities and looks at theological and theoretical models of rural ministry, particularly as it engages the surrounding community. Students will examine some of the challenges and possibilities inherent to interdisciplinary work. They will also engage in a collaborative project in their own context to map its demographic, social, economic and spiritual character. Finally, students will explore possibilities for their own research trajectory in the program.
As a result of this course students will be able to:
- Identify the theological and sociological model(s) for relating rural churches to their communities that are most appropriate for their own context.
- Map some of the social demographics of their church and communities.
- Be able to choose appropriate tools for interdisciplinary work and research in their field setting.
- Identify the core questions from their own context that will guide their study and research.
This course will examine the ecological, economic, political, social, and spiritual health of rural communities in an integrated and experiential way.
To provide an experiential basis, the students in small teams will spend a part of their time preparing to do a rapid diagnostic of nearby rural communities, learning to detect what hinders or promotes the health of the community. Part of our time will be spent in reflecting upon what we have seen and experienced as well as in both sociological and theological analysis. As tools for reflection, students will learn to use a variety of popular education techniques such as photovoice, casual conversations, role play, community mapping, and developing a ‘tree of life’ of the community. To deepen our reflection we will attempt to bring in a variety of local “experts”, from area farmers and business people to university profs in areas such as ecology and politics.
Leading Collaborative Community Change
The course will focus on the development of positive process wisdom and the use of group change processes for rural ministry leaders.
Students will participate in direct field experience with community groups and churches using tools for engagement that enhance human flourishing and lead to sustainable change, and even breakthrough transformation. Appreciative inquiry, collaborative frameworks, future search, open space technology, whole-scale change, conference model and real time strategic change are a few of the facilitation approaches which will be explored in this course on collaborative community change.
This course will focus on critical issues, questions, and decisions involved in designing and carrying out qualitative research projects in rural contexts. The focus will be on engaging students with information about qualitative research in a broad sense, as well as with questions and resources particular to their own identified research interests and contexts. Specific methods for community-based research will be presented and a researcher’s roles and responsibilities in selecting appropriate methods will be discussed. Attention will be given to critical questions about data generation, collaboration with and reporting to community members and research participants, and interpretation of research materials and experiences.
This course will engage students in a critical study of race, racism, and intercultural ministry. Content will take an ecumenical, interdisciplinary and global perspective on issues related to and interpretations of intercultural ministry. Perspectives from critical race and postcolonial theories will be studied and engaged with to support students’ development of strategies for anti-racist intercultural praxis in church contexts.
This course examines the theological significance of land in relation to the contemporary quest for community and a sense of place in the rural Canadian context. It focuses specifically on developing pastoral strategies and using congregational and community-based resources, as recommended in the congregational resource "Alive and Kicking: Revitalizing Rural Ministries," with particular emphasis on the final and seventh lens on sustainability. Alternative models of mission and strategy and ministry as outlined in this lens will be discussed and studied: i.e. the cooperative parish and cluster models--as viable options for helping local Canadian rural congregations in decline make the paradigmatic shift from survival and maintenance to mission and sustainability.
Participants in this seminar will reflect on the purposes and possibilities of Christian ritual for pastoral care both individual and corporate. Studying together ritual theory, liturgical theology, and sacramental practices, participants in this seminar will research individually their particular events and contexts of crisis for which there are no existing church rites in the ELCIC or their denominational traditions.
Cases and proposed rites are presented in two steps, with re-working of the rites to incorporate the insights of the group participants. Participants will complete the class with a working foundation of principles for developing Christian pastoral rites; a role for the “crisis” of the choice and a set of proposals from their peers for other pastoral events and contacts.
TANSI: COMMUNITY ORGANIZING THEOLOGY AND PRACTICE
This course is intended to introduce students to the theology and principles of community organizing based on, though modified and developed from, approaches originally pioneered by Saul Alinsky. It will train students to lead their congregations in building relationships of trust and mutual interest with their communities aimed at helping the community/region “work better” for all. Students will learn how to hold relational “one-on-ones,” differentiate private and public roles, understand the role of power and self-interest in community organizing and further the development of plans for their own congregations/communities.