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Religious Leadership for an Ecological Age


Program Masters
Field of Study Ministry
Class# MED/B 409
Location Common Room West (see schedule below)
Start Date 9.7.2010
End Date 12.10.2010
Time 1:00-3:50p.
Day Wed
Common Room West Wed 9/8/2010 Wed 9/8/2010
Room 101 Wed 9/15/2010 Wed 9/15/2010
Common Room West Wed 9/22/2010 Wed 11/24/2010
Room 101 Wed 12/1/2010 Wed 12/1/2010
Common Room West Wed 12/8/2010 Sat 12/11/2010

Course Description Masters Level

McCormick Theological Seminary


Course Number and Title: B/Med 409 Religious Leadership for an Ecological Age


Faculty: Theodore Hiebert and Clare Butterfield


Term: Fall Semester 2010


Course Description:

This course will provide religious leaders with the biblical and theological basis for honoring and caring for creation and practical skills to lead communities to reconnect with their environment, to live more sustainable lives, and to heal the earth and its communities.


Course Objectives:

The aim of this course is to give future church leaders the ability to walk into a new place knowing what to do, where to start, and why it’s important to care for the earth.  The course will therefore integrate biblical and theological perspectives on creation, with a basic scientific knowledge of the state of the world, ways to influence public policy, and ways to improve personal and institutional practices. 

Masters Program Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes established for each degree program are below. The ones that are underlined are those addressed by the course above. Because a course may be taken by students in any masters degree program, outcomes in more than one degree program may be addressed by this course.


M.Div. Learning Outcomes            

  1. Lead communities of faith with integrity, imagination and compassion.
  2. Perform the skills related to nurturing the life of faith (for self and others) including preaching, teaching, care-giving, leading public worship and public ministries.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the Bible and Christian traditions and the ability to interpret texts and practices.
  4. Work and worship with people from diverse backgrounds (racial, ethnic, religious) informed by knowledge from cross-cultural and anti-racist perspectives.
  5. Analyze social locations and cultural contexts in order to develop contextual forms of Christian ministry.
  6. Be proficient in the theological and ethical reflection related to situations and decisions in local, national and global contexts.
  7. Practice appropriate habits of spiritual formation and self-care and possess a growing, healthy sense of vocational identity.


MTS Learning Outcomes

  1. Exhibit the ability to interpret and teach Christian traditions, texts, and practices that nurture the life of faith and scholarship in themselves and the communities they serve.
  2. Articulate a point of view effectively and coherently in spoken and written communication.
  3. Engage in theological research and analysis based upon an argument and construct a theological essay or thesis article.



MA in Discipleship Development Learning Outcomes

  1. Teach basic concepts of Christian belief, traditions and practices.
  2. Equip others to engage in a variety of spiritual practices (such as prayer, hospitality, or worship).
  3. Plan and lead programs of Christian formation in a variety of settings.
  4. Analyze and evaluate resources and practices for Christian formation.


MA in Urban Ministry Learning Outcomes

  1. Examine and analyze urban contexts using Chicago as a laboratory / case study.
  2. Draw on biblical and theological resources to reflect ethically on issues of church and society.
  3. Demonstrate capacity to engage in cross-cultural ministries.
  4. Evaluate skills and strategies to organize communities and access political power in urban settings.


Primary Texts (and ISBN numbers)

The majority of the readings for this course are taken from periodical articles and chapters of books and will be posted on the class website.  In addition to these readings, the following books should be purchased:

Steward Brand, Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto (New York, NY: Viking, 2009)  ISBN 978-0-670-02121-5

Michael Brower and Warren Leon, The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, 1999)  ISBN 0-609-80281-X

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006)  ISBN 978-0-14-303858-0


In addition to these required books, a number of readings will be taken from two other books which we would recommend:

Barbara R. Rossing, The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2004)  ISBN 978-0-8133-9156-4

Theodore Hiebert, The Yahwist’s Landscape: Nature and Religion in Early Israel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2008; orig. 1996)  ISBN 978-0-8006-6305-6

Approximate amount of work per week students can expect (reading, writing, etc.)

Reading for the course will average about 100 pages/week.

Course Assignments and Projects

Brief biblical analyses most weeks.

Short research and writing projects most weeks.

A concluding integrative project, making use of previous work in the course, of 15 pages.

A theological and practical portfolio including the above assignments and projects.