Celebrating First Doctor of Ministry Graduates

Written by Kristina Alvarado
June 9, 2015

Congratulations to our first two Doctor of Ministry graduates about to walk the commencement stage in the next few weeks. Rev. Marian Stewart (pictured left), pastor at Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church, has completed her doctorate with a project entitled, ?Begotten Legacies: Examining the Soul of Inherited Racism.? Rev. Amy Wyatt, adjunct faculty member for Seattle University in the Theology and Religious Studies department, has completed her studies with a project entitled, ?Cultivating Creative Spiritual Leadership: The Role of Art-Making as a Spiritual Practice for Ministers.??

Last July, Seattle University?s School of Theology and Ministry launched a unique Doctor of Ministry degree opportunity, with 19 doctoral students representing 9 ecclesial communities including: United Methodist, Free Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), Presbyterian USA, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, American Baptist, and Pentecostal. Prior to beginning the program, each of the participating religious leaders earned the equivalent of a Master of Divinity degree and gained years of leadership experience in their respective ministries.

All of our Doctor of Ministry students are committed to leading the Church toward its new engagement with contemporary, diverse society. Six students are financially supported through ?Early Pastoral Leader? scholarships provided by Lilly Endowment Inc. These ?Early Pastoral Leaders? are exploring how congregations or organizations can contribute to public discourse on major issues facing our local and global society. Thirteen of these leaders have engaged in social analysis and examination of their response to their location as they contemplate next steps in moving faith contributions into the commons.

Special contributors to the Doctor of Ministry program have equipped students in their endeavors, beginning in Fall 2014 with Ron Sims (pictured right), former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and former King County Executive. Religious leaders explored housing issues further under the guidance of Lisa Gustaveson, Program Manager of the school?s Faith & Family Homelessness project, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Students then moved to work with Scott McClellan, now the Vice President for Communications at Seattle University and formerly the White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush and author of What Happened, a memoire of his years in that role. They then considered how they could contribute to the public discourse concerning health care in the United States. Rose Shandrow, Director of Spiritual Care for the Franciscan Health Systems, engaged students in discussion around major issues related to changes in health care, especially as they related to the Affordable Care Act. Since four of the current student religious leaders in the program serve as chaplains in various institutions in Washington and Oregon, this issue gathered momentum as the religious leaders presented their social analyses of their institutions.

In the upcoming Summer Quarter 2015, students have the privilege of journeying with Rev. Michael Battle, PhD (pictured left), who will engage both beginning and continuing participants in the challenges of peacebuilding and practices of nonviolence as religious leaders. Michael Battle brings an extensive list of both academic credentials and religious leadership credentials to engage our religious leaders in considering new strategies in this time of dire need in racial reconciliation. He is a renown American scholar on Desmond Tutu and practices of nonviolence, reconciliation, and peacebuilding in the United States.

Seven religious leaders are currently pursuing research in areas as diverse as: Presbyterian ordination practices and theological understandings; narrative preaching as an invitation to engaging post-modern communities in redefining Christian engagement; stewardship as essential spiritual practice in engaging ecumenical Christian communities in supporting broad community endeavors; congregational responses to family homelessness; challenges to congregational inclusion of families experiencing members who suffer psychotic breaks; and the theological, practical, and holistic challenges of Pentecostal communities embracing contemporary practices of spiritual and therapeutic accompaniment.?

We look forward to welcoming new participants in the program, beginning this Summer Quarter 2015?each in various stages of exploring how religious leadership shapes congregational and organizational response to the increasing pressure of adaptive change in our world. These new leaders include members from the aforementioned communities as well as United Church of Christ, and Christian Church / Disciples of Christ. Students have joined the program from the Pacific Northwest as well as from Ohio, Florida, and Sweden.

For further information on the Doctor of Ministry degree, please contact:
Colette Casavant via casavant@seattleu.edu or?Professor Sharon Henderson Callahan, EdD, Director of the program via scal@seattleu.edu.

We are currently accepting applications for the next cohort to begin July 2016. Six generous ?Early Career Pastor? Scholarships are available upon application for leaders with 3-10 years? experience?underwriting the first year of the Doctor of Ministry or the full Post-Master?s Certificate in Pastoral Leadership (a stand alone certificate or the first year of the Doctor of Ministry degree). ?