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Field Studies | The 'CURE' for your Vocation

Category: Field Studies


Well, McReaders, this is the last blog you’ll get from me. Wes will be taking over soon, and I’ll be done with seminary after 3 glorious years.

Thinking about the past 3 years is a bit overwhelming. As I’m leaving seminary, I’m not one of those prefect Presbyterians who passed all her ordination exams in the first try; I’m not walking out of seminary with a job in hand, ready to become ordained; I’m not in the minority. I am, once again, in the majority. I’m walking out of seminary with debt, no job, very little idea of where I am going to live, and a car that requires prayer each time to drive it down the Dan Ryan (which, given the shape it’s in, I don’t go down the Dan Ryan with it if I can help it). It’s not that I don’t have skills, I have mad skills. It’s just, there really aren’t many jobs out there. Recently, several people have asked me, “So, if you had to do it over, would you do it all again the same?”

Yes. I’d do it all over again and I would not do it differently. Here are a few reasons why:

1. I met Megan, Alex, TC, Sylvia, Tracy, Jon, Joe, Holly, Kim, Jason, Bong, Lilit, Ching Boi, Tyler, Ken, Lora, Matt, Jenny, Hannah, Amber, Molly, Han Kook, Dave, Kristi, Meredith, Kristin, Robyn, Tina, Karl, Michele, Vimary, Abby, Nathy, Nancy, Jeanine, Sergio, Kristin, Deanna, Mo, Stephanie, Melva, Kathi, Wes, Liz, Albert, Mike, Monica, Daniel, Sarah, Sarah, Katie Jo, Kate, Kirk, Jamie, Matt, Allison, Casey, Phil, Jeff, JC, Honna, Jake, Kelly, Megan, Sarah, Melvina, Delores, Kay, Sheila, Chris, Brenda, Peter, Heather, Jamie… the list is endless. This only includes the people that I could think of in 5 minutes and doesn’t include staff, professors, students from other seminaries, people in the community… Need I say more?

2. The friendly folks at the Starbucks at 55th and Woodlawn know my name.

3. I now know that Joel is an actual book in the Bible.

4. Ted Hiebert taught me Hebrew and Sarah Tanzer taught me Greek.

5. Janaan Hashim and Bob Cathey answered all my ridiculous questions and never told me to shut up. Ever.

6. I got to be Lib Caldwell’s EA.

7. If you ask nice enough, Luis will put on his Dracula cape.

8. Christine Vogel lets me cry in her office and Frank Yamada lets me cry in the halls.

9. Dr. Daniels made singing “Welcome Table” my favorite communion tradition.

10. Deb Mullen helped me accept who I was on my first day of classes.

11. Joann Lindstrom has a puppy in her office.

12. Sam Evans talks in a French accent when he’s in the office.

13. David Crawford is my friend and I know how hard he works for the seminary and the people there.

14. My classmates are fabulous dog-sitters, bird watchers, fish sitters, and plant waterers.

15. Melody Knowles taught me how to write a better paper.

16. Ted Hiebert made me re-think how I read the Bible.

17. Jennifer Ayers made me appreciate food and be thankful that I have it.

18. Ken Sawyer.

19. Ken Sawyer’s Mustache.

20. David Esterline’s wife’s cookies.

21. Knowing that Priscilla Rodriguez is always laughing at my facebook posts and understands my existential angst and will always have a hug for me.

22. Christine Vogel has a constant and steady supply of chocolate in her office.

23. No one reads the Psalms quite like Nanette Banks.

24. Dr. Frank Thomas taught me how to preach like I was on fire and then he made us go play in the snow.

25. Joann Lindstrom has my back.

26. Deb Kapp is an awesome cook at Iron Chef.

27. Monica actually smiles, you just have to know how to make her do it.

28. Natasha thinks I’ve already graduated.

29. I sort of have teacher crushes on Bob Cathey, Ted Hiebert, Lib Caldwell, Melody Knowles, and Janaan Hashim.

30. Community meals are always better food than I have in my apartment.

31. David Crawford often confuses me and Abby Mohaupt.

32. Boundaries don’t actually exist at McCormick despite Joann Lindstrom’s attempts at educating us.

33. Kimchi and Chapchae are two of my new favorite foods.

34. After being her EA, Abby Mohaupt and I now know that Lib Caldwell drinks Diet Coke at break and her Starbucks order is a grande unsweetened passion fruit iced tea.

35. I learned more about YAV’s than I ever imagined was possible.

36. I learned that Frank Yamada used to be in a band.

37. Anna Case-Winters lets me call her A.C. Dub.

38. Ken Crews can eat ungodly amounts of fast food in one sitting.

39. Deacon retreats aren’t the same without Christine Vogel present.

And last but not least…

40. The University of Chicago has a library. Thank God, or none of my work would have ever gotten done.

Well, that’s it. There are other things I could have talked about on here, but this is all I had time for, I have to finish a project for Bob Cathey. Go figure. Graduation, here I come!

Peace – Shelley D.

As the number and size of many churches in the mainline denominations decline, student enrollment at seminaries has been flat or in decline and many seminarians are considering alternate forms of ministry as they do their vocational discernment and post-seminary planning.    A number of our students choose to do their field education placement in an agency or faith-based ministry rather than in a congregation,   because they are thinking more intentionally about non-traditional forms of ministry.   Those who are in dual-degree programs, such as the M. Div./M.S. W., often do two field placements – one in a church setting and the other in an agency setting (thus satisfying the requirements of both the seminary and the educational institution where they are pursuing the social work degree)

Faith In Place is one such ministry.  Begun in 1999, it was initially a project of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and its goal was “to gather religious leaders in the Chicago region in dialogue, prayer and action on issues of environmental sustainability.”   The Reverend Clare Butterfield, an ordained pastor and trained attorney is the founder and Executive Director of Faith In Place.

She offered some good suggestions at a panel discussion held on campus last semester.  From her perspective as the director of a non-profit, faith based entity, Rev. Butterfield spoke about what it takes to start and sustain such a ministry.   The following summarizes the points she made; they provide some “go with your gut” guidelines if you’re considering any form of entrepreneurial or evangelistic ministry (which could, of course,  include a new church start — but more about that in another blog).

  1. Follow your passion; if you don’t love what you’re doing you probably won’t succeed.  Starting a new ministry is not for the faint of heart or easily discouraged.  So think long and hard before you take the plunge.
  2. If you can’t start your own ministry; hook into an existing organization, if one already exists, and find ways to add your gifts and skills to the mix.
  3. Define your ministry and mission carefully, and then stick to it.  If it’s not your mission, don’t do it.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of your ministry regularly.  Part of an ongoing evaluation may include letting  go of programs that aren’t really working.
  5. Learn to “play well” with others.
  6. When you volunteer your time, be realistic about who may be getting paid for what you have offered to do for nothing.
  7. Stay positive about your ministry in public (you can grumble all you want in the privacy of your own office).   Donors and potential donors will tend to walk away from you if they sense your negativity.
  8. Have a group of friends with whom you can honestly talk with about the downsides and stumbling blocks you are experiencing in your ministry.
  9. Find security (and pleasure) in things other than your job.
  10. Recognize your blessings every day.

Greeting McCormick community! If you’re a middler or a senior here, then you know all too well, going to Min 404/405. It’s the class you take in conjunction to your field educational studies here at McCormick. I took the class last year, along with my work at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Evanston, IL. Now, this class gets a bad rap some days. Take it from someone who finished it last school year. Here’s what really happens…

Second year (or whenever you take the class), you’re not only taking classes and possibly working a part-time job (or maybe even full-time), and then you might even have a family to take care of as well; now let’s tack on 12-15 hours per week at whatever church or organization that you’re working with for your experiential education. It’s rough. There’s a lot to do. But that’s not what gets people. What gets them is simply going to class (well, atleast for many). You’re out there doing this hands-on learning, and let’s be honest, sometimes, seminary feels like it is a regurgitation of your feelings. I, for one, am not a fan of this. But my past life as a facilitator for groups in the outdoors and with experimental education tells me that we all need this “regurgitation” time. It’s a time for processing everything. There’s a lot going on in your life at the moment. And you need to talk about it, you need to think about it and compare battle wounds with other students. It’s pretty important.

While you’re out there saving the world at your field site, it feels stagnant to sit in a classroom. You know you have a paper to write for Reformed Traditions for Ken Sawyer and Anna Case-Winters. You have a Greek test just around the corner, and you have a sermon to write for your preaching class with Brad. But here’s the truth, even though you might not enjoy it while you’re there, you’ll appreciate it once you’re really out there.

So, I sat down for a chat with Joanne and Nannette. They are the ones who make all this happen. Well, them and a few others. The class consists of small groups; Joann serves as one of the leaders, and then there are 4 more:

Rev. Dr. Ozzie Smith with Covenant UCC in Indiana

Rev. Dr. Linda Wygant with Graceseeds Ministry

Rev. Patrick Daymond with Sixth-Grace Presbyterian Church in Chicago

Rev. David Watkins Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church

So ladies, tell us your names and job titles.

(Reverend Dr.) Joanne Lindstrom, the Jean & Frank Mohr Director of Experiential Education & Field Studies and Associate Professor of Ministry

Reverend Nannette E. Banks

Why do you do what you do? (your jobs, that is)

Joanne: I have often said that “I have the best job in the joint!” I get to see/share/experience student transformation and growth in extraordinary ways…..from the first sermon jitters to a sense of confidence in preaching; from the fear of the first hospital visit to seeing oneself called to hospital chaplaincy or hospice care. I get to see how a student’s call is deepened through testing and experience. It is an absolute joy to watch students “come into their own”. And sometimes the transformation is so great that I can see a physical change – in the way the student walks and talks. What better “job” than to see God working in people’s lives!

Nanette: I am excited to journey with students who are actively discerning their current and future impact on the church and broader community. I am always stoked when students integrate their creative expressions (poetry, painting, dancing) and theology which reflects and embodied ministry.

All students studying for a Master’s of Divinity have to do field studies. In your opinions, what is the importance of doing field site work?

Joanne: Field Studies allows students the opportunity to test out classroom learning and theory in a living, breathing ministry context with real people. It also allows students the opportunity to observe Christian leaders, pastors, institutional directors and to learn from the best! It provides mentors and colleagues who often remain connected to students for years to come – a “wisdom circle” to use the language of Dr. Braxton.

Nanette: It was in the midst of my field studies experience at Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministry when I realized that I am called to “The Church” not a particular church context. As I explained to the supervisors during this years’ training students’ minds will be blown and God’s providence expanded to encompass all.

We all know that MIN 404/405 does not have the reputation for being the most enticing class. From what I hear there are many nicknames for it. What should people really know about it? Why do you do it? (teach it and offer it is, that is)

Joanne: What do you mean MIN 404/405 doesn’t have a reputation for being the most enticing class?????? And I have heard no nicknames for it – so what do you call it – inquiring minds want to know – smile. My experience is that folks do not appreciate MIN 404/405 until they are in ministry for a couple of years. Then folks come back and tell me “Oh, I get it now. I wish that had paid better attention. I wish that I had taken advantage of the experience.” I think the “doing” of ministry is ever so much more exciting to students than engaging in the “being” – the journey into self-awareness. As Paul Tillich says,” The pain of looking into one’s own depth is too intense for most people. They would rather return to the shaken and devastated surface of their former lives and thoughts.” However, once you are fully immersed in ministry you find out that you must delve into your own depths in order to touch the lives of those you have been called to serve.

Tell us something about yourselves.

Joanne: I have a purple bike that I love to ride along the lake shore. I’m a gym rat – work out at least three times a week and usually more. I fondly call my weight trainer either ‘the trainer from hell’ or “Arron the Terrible” and my pilates trainer I call “his (Arron’s) Evil Twin”. I have god children in Hawaii and Ghana and try to get to each place at least once a year. Fortunately my newest love, 7 month old Jaden, called Bliz because he was born during the blizzard, just lives a few blocks away.

Nanette: I am a 2009 graduate of McCormick having won the Martin D. Kneeland Sermon Delivery Award. I hold a Masters of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I love to write. I am an ordained Elder in the non-denominational church, now pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ and currently worshiping at Covenant United Church of Christ with Pastor Ozzie Smith.

So, what else do you two lovely ladies do outside of McCormick?

Joanne: I am the Associate Minister at the First Baptist Church where I do general ministry stuff, am overseeing the ordination process (which includes major theological papers) of two sisters in ministry (they were not happy to find out that one of my MIN 404/405 nicknames was “The Hammer”) and serve as spiritual advisor to the young adults. I serve as a speech coach for a couple folks and have 2 Dmin in preaching advisees. Geez, this is a lot of ministry stuff – I need to get a life. Oh, yeah, taking dance lessons from one of the ladies in my church – no, not liturgical dance.

Nanette: Besides sample new restaurant cuisines, write/teach poetry, and preach I serve as a Coordinator/Planning Team for the Chautauqua Institute New Clergy Program.

What is one piece of advice, concerning field sites and MIN 404/405, that you would give to first year students or to students who are thinking about coming to McCormick?

Joanne: Chicago is an incredible place to do ministry – all sorts of ministry sites and opportunities. Don’t wait until the last minute to check things out. Come talk to Nannette or me with your ideas, concerns, questions. We love finding just the right place for you!

Nanette: Be open, be prepared, be transformed and be a transformer!

Thanks for the interview ladies!

Below, you’ll find a list of all the current field sites.

Advocate Trinity Hospital

A Just Harvest

Bay View United Methodist Church (Milwaukee)

Calvary United Protestant Church

Clarendon Hills Community Presbyterian Church

Christ Community Church

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette

First United Church Oak Park

God Can Ministries

Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church

Interfaith Worker Justice

Kirk of the Lakes Presbyterian Church

Korean United Methodist Church

Lakeview Presbyterian Church

Liberation Christian Center

Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church

Living Springs Community Church

Northminster Presbyterian Church

Prayer and Faith Outreach Ministries

Protestants for the Common Good

Pullman Presbyterian Church

Ravenswood Presbyterian Church

St. James Cathedral

St. Sabina

The Night Ministry

Victory Apostolic Church

VITAS Innovative Hospice Care

Wicker Park Grace

Until next time! Peace!

Shelley D.

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