Candidates for Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Leadership at Eastern Mennonite Seminary are required to complete a capstone or ministry specialization project. Their study, research and exploration is tailored to their individual ministry setting and interests, with the goal of empowering their ministry and formation as well as providing a resource to others in the seminary community.
Tuesday, March 23
Ryan Cobb: “How the Wesleyan Quadrilateral Helps with ‘Sermon Prep’: Keeping in Mind People’s Experiences, Traditions, and Reason When Presenting Scripture”
10 a.m. (Zoom Link)
Some pastors may see people as open data servers where thoughts, ideas, interpretations, and views of Scripture can be continually uploaded and stored. But, by the time a person is sitting in a church setting, or behind a laptop to listen in on a live-streamed sermon, their spiritual iCloud storage is mostly full. People have come full of traditions, reason, and experience, which many pastors do not immediately see. When presenting Scripture, keeping this in mind is consequential. I will present research ranging from intellectual theology to folk theology, from Mennonites to Pentecostals, and survey results from 17 people who answered “How You Relate to The Bible in Your Own Words” through a series of questions.
Jon Carlson: “Organic Theologians: Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, and the Formation of Christian Imagination”
11 a.m. (EMS Facebook Page)
Pastors play a unique role in congregational life. Most of us literally occupy a pulpit—bully or not—from which to proclaim deep and abiding truths of Christian faith. Pastoral ministry ought to be understood as primarily theological ministry. In the contemporary Mennonite experience, however, the role of pastors in sparking and shaping theological reflection is rarely taken seriously. For the flourishing of the church and the world, Mennonite pastors need to reclaim our role in theological formation and exploration.
Susanna Tolbert: “Congregational Conflict Resources”
11:30 a.m. (EMS Facebook Page)
I believe we are called to create healthy communities of spiritual and emotional growth that are Spirit led. Inevitably, we will encounter conflict, discomfort and difficult conversations while serving. In order to respond boldly to our calling, to grow as leaders and members of a faith community, it is my intention to compile resources and to create simplistic conflict resolution session examples. By doing this, it is my hope to encourage our fellow pastors and laity to stand in courage of the task of resolving conflict, to be grounded in the Spirit and to experience the peace God promises.
Wednesday, March 24
Bob Michalides: “Thriving in Ministry: Effects of Self-Care on Spiritual Health”
9 a.m. (Zoom Link and in Martin Chapel for EMU community members only)
In the life and ministry of Jesus, there were many times in which he was challenged by opposition, dealt with stress, and encountered many emotionally draining situations. In the life and vocation of pastoral ministry, there are also many times in which these same obstacles can cause a decline in spiritual health and thereby effecting ministry. In examining how Jesus effectively utilized self-care practices through spiritual disciplines, one can see that Jesus’ self-awareness and emotional intelligence impacted how he interacted with all people in his ministry. This is important in understanding how our spiritual health is vital to our effectiveness of pastoral ministry. I argue that the key to thriving in ministry is to develop self-care practices which create healthy spiritual disciplines and these disciplines will directly relate to the self-awareness and emotional intelligence needed for pastoral ministry. This presentation will explore self-care practices and how they improve spiritual health as well as the consequences of poor practices. There will be an examination of spiritual disciplines and the correlation to spiritual health. Finally, there will be an exploration in how Jesus effectively used his self-awareness to practice emotional intelligence and how the same practices are important today.
Dawn Reidy: “Practicing an Embodied Faith”
9:45am (Zoom Link)
Our bodies need our souls as much as our souls need our bodies, at least on this side of heaven. I would like to propose that the body and soul are deeply connected to the overall spiritual state of an individual. The soul needs the body to express worship and service to the Creator. I would also like to propose that physical exercise, with an emphasis on yoga, becomes an expression of and connection to the Divine within. Exercise, including a yogic practice, heal and support the body as an expression for the soul. I will look at the positive and negative historical facts of the body/spirit debate. I will look at Scriptural connections/passages. I will review the research of an interview and survey results. Critical scholarly research will also be included with a final conclusion.
Tuesday, March 30
William “Mike” Evans: “The Effects of Itinerancy on Pastors’ Children”
11 a.m. (EMS Facebook Page)
Since the beginning of the Methodist movement, itinerancy has been a requirement of pastors. Itinerancy can have negative effects on pastors’ children; this is important for the United Methodist Conference to understand in order to support their pastors. Both John Wesley and Francis Asbury had concerns regarding pastors having families. The concern was that having a family would distract the pastor from their mission. Moving families from appointment to appointment can be difficult on children. Leaving friends and familiar settings behind, can make it difficult to maintain stability and self-reliance. The United Methodist conference needs to provide support to the children through their relocations.
Carrie Moffitt: “Disaster Relief and Recovery Missions and the Volunteer Team Response to Trauma”
11:30 a.m. (EMS Facebook Page and in Martin Chapel for EMU community members only)
Following a natural disaster, volunteers are needed from organizations such as the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to assist FEMA and other disaster response organizations. While these volunteers are primarily trained to make homes safe, sanitary and secure, there is little training on how to provide emotional and spiritual care for survivors of trauma, how teams should be prepared to witness trauma, and how these volunteers need to care for their own well-being while caring for others. Such limited training can leave many volunteers unprepared to process and communicate meaningfully with those being ministered to. The inclusion of trauma care in disaster relief and recovery training will enhance the goal of a long-term recovery.
Wednesday, March 31
Paul Merchant: “Bringing the Quaker Experience of God’s Presence into Hospital Chaplaincy”
9 a.m. (Zoom Link)
The Quaker experience of God’s presence is an ideal match for chaplains visiting patients in a hospital. Quaker worship, faith, and practice revolve around a sense of listening for God’s Spirit of truth within all people. Quaker worship does not attempt to replace but rather facilitate the spiritual foundation that others already have. Quaker faith does not revolve around fixed doctrines, but an ongoing engagement with the Spirit of God. By recognizing that all people contain a seed of sacredness of God’s Spirit within them, they facilitate spiritual listening in others by listening to them and encouraging them to fully express their spiritual understanding.
Joanna Friesen: “A Spirituality of Endurance”
9:30 a.m. (Zoom Link)
There are rich spiritual lessons to be learned from the practices of endurance athletics. This will be considered from the writings of endurance athletes, interviews with endurance athletes, and a consideration of New Testament metaphors around the qualities of endurance. It is my hope that this project will energize a new consideration around the spiritual value of endurance practice.
Friday, April 2
Amber Baker, “Spiritual Direction as Liberative for Women: Finding Yourself through Holy Listening”
11 a.m. (Zoom Link)
This capstone will explore how participating in Spiritual Direction can serve as a release and be freeing or even liberative for all women who seek to understand themselves wholly as God created them to be. While appreciating the diverse liberative theologians of feminist theology, womanist theology and liberation theology, I will explore how their experiences and insightfulness can be used to help all women free themselves from the strongholds of society, family, church, etc. through their participation in Spiritual Direction. While I am not yet a Spiritual Director, I took this opportunity to explore why I am so drawn to the personal growth that I have experienced through Spiritual Direction over the last eight years and whether spiritual direction is something that I can share with other women who desire a sense of newfound freedom through holy listening moments. I will also draw on a few women from the Old Testament, how they can inspire our journey of discovering who we truly are and how through Spiritual Direction we can become stronger and healthier mentally and physically, like them, so that we can better serve our families, ministries, vocations, communities and ultimately our world.
Tuesday, April 20
MaryBeth Moore “Playing and Praying with Scripture: Rediscovering Biblical Imagination through Ignatian Contemplation”
11 a.m. (EMS Facebook Page)
Does your heart long for greater intimacy with Jesus Christ? Have you lost the wonder of reading a biblical story as if for the first time? In the 16th century, St. Ignatius of Loyola, a founding member of the Society of Jesus, was passionate about using the imagination to enter the biblical story to reveal the holy desires of one’s heart and deepen one’s devotion to Jesus. By using Ignatian Contemplation techniques to play and pray with scripture, 21st-century readers can enliven their spiritual connection with Jesus by inviting the Holy Spirit to breathe fresh, life-transforming power into their imaginative engagement of biblical narratives that have become mundane, under-impressive, or overly intellectualized. During this presentation, we will spend time entering a biblical narrative, experiencing it with our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, feelings, and emotions.
Carmen Miller “To Gaze with Love: Visual Arts as Spiritual Formation”
11:20 a.m. (EMS Facebook Page)
The visual arts are a gift to all people. This presentation will share several specific spiritual practices. These intentional rhythms draw one towards greater love for God and shape one to be more fully present to others in love – particularly in chaplaincy ministry. Inspired to create, as a reflection of God’s enlivening, the creative process and scholarly research, the presenter will share her work.
First published 3/12/21