Last week, the Adelaide College of Divinity Academic Board approved two new Diploma pathways, one in Children, Youth & Family ministry, and one in Discipling Adults. One of my final tasks at College has been to propose these new Diploma 'pathways' for approval within our Bachelor of Ministry. These are one-year full-time (equivalent) tertiary diplomas; students can continue towards a BMin if they wish. The pathways require studying at least one unit across all four areas of the degree, but then allow for specialisation within the total 8 units.
When the new BMin was created, the "Pastoral Studies" stream was split into a "Leadership" stream and a "Christian Education & Discipleship" stream. The latter stream is the one that I headed up briefly after the change. It allows for a range of units that are broader than the usual ordination requirements, so that we can provide for lay workers and members of the church who want to be better equipped in faith and ministry. This is an open path for following your call.
The new BMin allowed for some quite different subjects in the first year - a stronger focus on mission and culture, and seeking to engage learners whose focus was more on the practice of ministry that formal study of theology. So, for example, the two first year core units in our CE&D stream are "Spirituality for 21st Century Disciples" and "Media and Communication in Contemporary Culture". Not your usual first year BTh subjects.
A one-year Diploma was created within the BMin - 8 units including at least 4 first-year units across the four streams (Bible, Missiology, Leadership, CE & Discipelship) plus four additional units. For 2013, Diploma pathways in Leadership and Chaplaincy were created, and the latter in particular has taken off in a significant way already.
After that long preamble, I pleased to be able to say that for 2014 we have a new Diploma pathway in ministry with Children, Youth & Families, and a pathway in Disciplng Adults (adult formation and education). In 2009 we crafted the units that would be available in the CE&D stream, and now they are able to come to fruition within both the degree and the diploma. Some continue our recognised teaching areas and some are new:
The available units for the 2 streams cover
- ministry with children and families
- youth and young adult ministry
- Christian education
- discipling adults
- Christian spirituality and spiritual formation
- leading and facilitating groups
- creative arts in worship, learning and mission
- leadership and formation for ministry
- 'reading' cultures
- introductions to theology and the Bible
- plus the opportunity to do a guided study in an area of personal interest (such as the spiritual lives of children, young people & sexuality, spiritual direction)
From 2014, Uniting College will be offering all units as 'blended learning', which means that the distinctions between 'classroom' and 'distance' are progressively removed - all students can access online materials and peopel learning at a distance can be connected to the classroom in a range of ways.
Two more things that make all of this particularly exciting, as far as I'm concerned.
Ministers and other graduates can include higher level units as part of their Grad DipMin, MMin or DMin studies, so that some of the above units - in adult education, spirituality, working with groups, creative arts, etc, can be part of their post-grad work.
Secondly, Dr Glenn Cupit, formerly of UniSA, has just joined the ACD as an adjunct faculty member. Glenn is renowned for his work on the spiritual lives of children, and children's engagement with media in particular. He is not only a great communicator and an excellent researcher, he is well-grounded in the church. Glenn will bring great depth to post-graduate studies in children's ministry, and along with Deidre Palmer (and myself as an adjunct if they'll have me from 2014) and some of our other excellent teachers, give the ACD a very strong offering in this area. I think I can say that we have the best offering in this area nationally in the UCA.
[BTW my position as Director of Christian Education & Discipleship has been advertised and selection is currently underway. I expect that there'll be an excellent appointment which will add to the above in very rich ways.]
Yeah, I'm sad to be leaving this. I love developmental stuff...