MAML and GMLDMIN @ Seminary
September of 2007 I started grad school at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. I started out part time to test the waters and see if I could handle going to school with four kids still at home. I took what George Fox calls hybrid classes, where weekly class work is performed in an online environment with an all day Friday/Saturday classroom intensive scheduled sometime during the semester. I thoroughly enjoyed learning the hybrid way, but was planning to enter the traditional MDiv program taking up to 10 credit hours of classes offered in one day, commuting on the train down to Portland from Seattle on Sunday evenings, taking classes all day Mondays, and returning home Tuesdays. While I was testing the waters I heard about another degree program that was based on the hybrid model of learning with the added element of learning with a cohort.
I have found this hybrid learning cohort model to be a fantastic way for me to learn. I am almost done with my first year of the Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership (MAML) program. I am still debating about whether I should pursue an MDiv, as they are offering an MDiv completion option at the end of the program, or I could pick up the extra classes as I go along. The biggest difference between the MAML and an MDiv are the languages – no Greek or Hebrew classes are required for the MAML, and a few extra Pastoral Studies classes.
My big debate is over whether I will want to go on and pursue a doctoral degree. If I plan to pursue further studies, I will need the MDiv. George Fox is offering a new Leadership in Emerging Culture Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program, which if you pronounce the acronym just right it sounds like you might be pursuing a devilish degree. Leonard Sweet has been the lead mentor for the Leadership in Emerging Culture DMin program (now called Semiotics and Future Studies track) for seven or eight years now, but they are adding new tracks – the most recent of which is a Global Missional Leadership track led by Jason Clark.
I have also heard rumor of another track that may be offered in the future led by Dan Kimball. So, by the time I finish my Master’s degree, there will possibly be three Leadership in Emerging Culture DMin tracks for me to choose from.
Why, you may ask, would I want to get a doctoral degree? What use is all this education? And you may ask the most common question I get asked, what do I plan to do with my degree? These are all questions that are swimming around in my head day after day, week after week (especially those weeks when my class work is especially challenging) and year after year. What am I planning to do with my degree? Honestly, I don’t know. When I was an undergrad I planned to be a missionary to China so I got a degree in Communication and took electives in Chinese Culture and Asian History. Well, I never made it China, at least not long term. I’ve been to visit twice. I’ve learned that plans change and life happens and God leads in mysterious ways.
One thing I do know, this time of learning and study is for a purpose, there is a reason I am in seminary. I do believe God has led me to this season of equipping for future work. One desire I have is to write theologically rich lyrics. I love to sing and worship God in song. I am concerned sometimes with the shallowness of some of our contemporary worship songs. This is a dream I hope to pursue someday to write songs and sing with other creative artists in my local faith community and inspire lifelong creativity in others.
I also hope to write a book or two. Actually, I have about four or five book ideas percolating in my mind right now. While I am working on my book ideas, I will also be working on getting some articles published in various publications. My graduate studies are helping me become a better writer.
Finally, I am considering church planting. A few years ago a couple of guys moved from Virginia to Kenmore to plant a church. After all, the Pacific NW is the most un-churched region in the nation. When they came to town, I was inspired to join their efforts. After about a year, the small group disbanded for a variety of reasons, but it was through that experience that I was awakened to the call to pursue graduate education for ministry.
The most awkward question I get in regards to my seminary education is the one with sexist undertones asking whether I plan to become a pastor. I can usually hear the sexism in the way they frame the question. I have purposefully avoided this “plan” for a variety of reasons. I was influenced as a young Christian in the tradition that women were not allowed to be pastors. I have since been influenced by other points of view on this topic. I am exploring this topic more recently as I have been asked to write about my experiences as a woman in ministry. I am currently taking a four week class at Shoreline Vineyard called Faith, Women, Justice and thinking more about this issue.
A few months ago I was asked to complete a questionnaire for a book Jim Henderson is writing with Pam Hogeweide on women in ministry. Honestly, I was reticent about this topic. I didn’t open the questionnaire until just recently. I didn’t know why I avoided the topic at first, but somehow I think I felt that if I opened the questionnaire and read the questions I would be opening a Pandora’s box of emotions I may not be ready to face. Well, I am opening that box now… Stay tuned.