Academic Programs

Internships in Ministry

Supervised Ministry at ESR

Supervised Ministry, usually done in the final year of study at ESR, is central to the Master of Divinity/Master of Ministry degree. This course is two semesters in length, and provides opportunities for testing ones gifts and developing skills in a supervised ministry internship. Students work with the program director to determine a ministry site or project in accordance with their gifts and calling.

Throughout their Supervised Ministry year, students work with their internship sites/projects twelve hours per week for ministry and contextual learning. The internship includes meetings with a supervisor, peer support, and a concurrent ESR seminar.

Fundamental to the ministry internship year is the weekly meeting with a supervisor for theological reflection. This mentoring relationship provides students with focused, individualized learning and attention from one who is seasoned in ministry.

In the seminar participants explore professional and personal issues through case study and reflection on experiences in their ministry internships. Through the use of case studies, concrete examples from the field are discussed. Students are encouraged to integrate lessons and insights from other parts of the curriculum and from their own life experience into the practice of ministry. Explicit attention is paid to biblical and theological reflection on ministry experience.

The Supervised Ministry year is enriched by participation in workshops, conferences, and seminars sponsored by various organizations, including students’ denominations. Such programs enable students to learn about issues and develop skills in addition to those found through regular curricular offerings, with practitioners of diverse forms of ministry, and in preparation for continuing education post-ESR.

Before the Supervised Ministry year, a student must complete at least twenty-seven credit hours, including the following courses: Spiritual Formation and Personal Practice, Spiritual Formation and Public Ministry, Old Testament History and Literature, New Testament History and Literature, Discernment of Call and Gifts, one introductory church history course, and for residential students two courses in the student’s emphasis, for Access students two Competency in Ministry courses.

Clinical Pastoral Education

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a method of learning pastoral practice in a clinical setting with trained supervision. The following are essential elements in any CPE program: an accredited CPE center, which may be a general or psychiatric hospital, a penal institution, or any one of sixteen other kinds of institutions; a certified supervisor; a small group of peers who work and learn together; detailed reporting of incidents in ministry; a specific time period, usually ten or eleven weeks full-time in the summer, or one day a week during most of the academic year; and an individual learning contract. Many students find the experience to be one of their most significant learning experiences.

CPE is not required for graduation, except for those students who choose pastoral care as their emphasis in the M.Min./M.Div. program. At least one unit of CPE is required for becoming a chaplain pastoral counselor.

ESR encourages students to consider CPE. Any unit of CPE will count three credits; although a student may take another unit of CPE for an additional three credits, for six credits altogether. Alternatively, a student may take CPE as supervised ministry for nine credits. Per existing faculty policy, CPE as supervised ministry is an exception, and may only be undertaken with the faculty’s permission. CPE students will be required to provide a copy of their supervisor’s and self-evaluation to receive credit, and these documents will substitute for the narrative evaluation.

Those who take CPE join together with a faculty person to debrief their experience, explore how it relates to their ongoing education at ESR, and support each other in consolidating the growth and learning that have occurred.

In the fall of each year a CPE Day is scheduled, when students returning from their summer CPE settings discuss their experiences with the community at Common Meal and provide information to students. Often CPE supervisors are invited to attend.

Accredited centers are spread across the country and around the world. Near to ESR, there are centers in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Current information concerning CPE training and directories of accredited centers are available on the bulletin board on the second floor of the ESR Center. Faculty are happy to assist any student in discerning the appropriateness of this experience for her or him.