Theological Education for new immigrant lay leaders in the USA
New waves of immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East, and East Europe are coming to this nation as immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers, students and religious workers. In the case of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the blessing of having new Presbyterians from abroad creates the need to provide different welcoming resources. One of those is this program of reformed theological education under a Presbyterian perspective, with and for the leadership of the new international communities of faith.
The Presbyterian Church office of New Immigrants New Immigrants & Emerging Ministries, under the General Assembly Mission Council, and the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (ESPR), present their mission partnership with this dynamic, diverse and flexible reformed theological program for new immigrant Presbyterian lay-leaders. The office of New Immigrants New Immigrants & Emerging Ministries ’s mission includes the formation of new immigrants by providing resources for Christian leadership development. The ESPR is a theological institution related to the PC(USA) through the General Assembly’s Committee on Theological Education. Together, both institutions are committed to run this plan as an intensive two-year program to be assessed for further extension as an inter-denominational and international project.
Purpose of the Program
“For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12), the purpose of the program is to provide basic theological education for new immigrant leaders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who may be serving as Commissioned Lay Pastors, in the process to become one, or just performing as lay leaders in their communities of faith.
Registration and Content
Presbyteries and/or congregations nominate the candidates to the office of New Immigrants New Immigrants & Emerging Ministries. The nominating body will only cover the student registration fee of $50 and travel expenses to the sessions’ site. They will also designate a representative to mentor to student. Registration is limited to 18 participants from different nationalities and presbyteries. At the end of their 2010-12 classes, students will be better equipped to serve their constituencies according to the Presbyterian polity, Reformed theology and contextual intercultural ministry. Participants are receiving full academic scholarships from the General Assembly Mission Council office of New Immigrants New Immigrants & Emerging Ministries .
The next group session will start fall 2010. Classes will meet two times per semester, for a total of four educational meetings per year. Each meeting consists of 18 contact hours in classroom (36 contact hours per semester). Furthermore, students will dedicate two more hours per hour-contact in classroom, either individually or in study groups for a total of 72 hours of study. Some of the courses will be online. The areas of instruction will concentrate in the requirements presented in the Book of Order for lay commissioning. The Seminary will issue a “Diploma” for all graduated students.
The program will be implemented in the USA, in English. Spanish, Portuguese and other foreign languages would be used as a resource, according to the student registration. Professors will be selected among the different theological institutions related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
September 17-19: DIP-6601
Fundamentals of Presbyterian Polity
December 3-5: DIP-6602
February 18-20: DIP-6604
Introduction Biblical Interpretation
April 8-10: DIP-6603
July 29-31: DIP-6606
Teaching and Christian Education
October 14-16: DIP-6605
December 9-11: DIP-6608
February 10-12: DIP- 6607
May: Graduation at the Seminary in Puerto Rico
Recruitment and Faculty appointments will be made under the direction of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. Professors and mentors will have experience in missional ministries among immigrants and the ability to communicate in more than one language. Faculty and mentors must have, at least, an M.Div., D.Min., Ph.D., or proven experience in graduated work related to the content of the course.
Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. An introduction to the Bible as the Scripture of the Church. It includes a panoramic view of the Old (Hebrew Scriptures) and New Testaments. While students will be exposed to some of the main issues on the history of critical interpretation, participants will also explore how to translate scriptural interpretation into sermons.
Reformed Theologies and Sacraments. A survey of Church history with special attention to the creeds and confessions of the Protestant Reformation, the Westminster Assembly and the Presbyterian Church (USA). In addition, the course is designed to introduce the student to the practice of Christian theological inquiry and reflection for understanding and interpreting foundational Christian doctrines. An overall aim for the course is the achievement of the ability to use theological resources critically and responsibly foe a constructive, coherent, and ecumenical interpretation of Christian faith pertinent to ecclesial and social contexts.
Presbyterian Polity. An introduction to Presbyterian Order. It is based on the PC (USA) Constitution and centered in the Book of Order (Form of Government, Directory for Worship, and Rules of Discipline). It also will include the structure and function of the governing bodies of the church.
Preaching. This course approaches preaching within the context of Reformed traditions of worship. It explores various aspects of the sermon such as: preparation; styles of preaching as well as the creative use of the lectionary in the sermon.
Worship. The various aspects of Reformed Worship. It is based on main Presbyterian resources, including the Directory for Worship and The Book of Common Worship. It gives special attention to planning and leading services such as funerals and weddings, among others.
Pastoral Care. This course is an introduction to Pastoral Care ministry. It gives special attention to both the needs of the care-receiver and the needs of the caregiver.
Teaching and Christian Education. Introduction to various issues of the church’s educational ministry, including learning theories and pedagogical methodologies. Students will be exposed to Presbyterian resources currently available for the enhancement of their ministry.
Contextual Ministry. This course introduces participants to the importance and value of understanding the social and theological context in which the new immigrant ministers will work. It will give special attention to issues such as: urban and rural ministries and racial/ethnic concerns in the congregational setting. A review of the PC(USA) ministries with new immigrants also will be presented.