Tending the Roots: Core Programs

Pastoral Ministry
Pastoral Care and Counseling
Peace and Justice

A. Pastoral Ministry

Over 100 years ago, many Friends accepted pastoral ministry as one means of leadership and ministry within the life of the local congregation.  Now a permanent fixture among those groups, the challenge remains of preparing persons for pastoral ministry in a manner that reflects the theological and practical distinctiveness of Friends.  While Friends have often been divided on the role that formal education should play in preparation for ministry, there is a consistent expectation for competent ministry.  Friends need a trustworthy leader in this area. ESR is the only school that can deliver seasoned, distinctive pastoral ministry preparation in the manner of Friends.  There is no other option!!

Ministry to Friends as a Friend is one challenge.  A second is related to the identification of prospective, gifted candidates for pastoral ministry.  This is a challenge that cannot be solved within the confines of ESR.  It requires engagement with Friends within their local settings, assisting meetings with the essential process of discerning call and gifts to ministry.  This will require cooperation of yearly meeting and local meeting leadership, planning and coordination of educational opportunities, and supplemental personnel assistance.

ESR has vastly strengthened its pastoral studies program.  In 1999, it dedicated a full faculty position to pastoral ministry and made the decision to hire a seasoned Friends pastor for the position.  Since that time, ESR has created an entire pastoral ministry curriculum, capable of preparing persons for excellent ministry that can lead meetings and churches in the next generation.  In an era of budgetary constraint in which positions could be cut, we seek to ensure that this position remains a permanent part of the faculty.  Annual support dedicated to pastoral ministry studies can assure this will be the case.  A major gift could establish a Chair in Pastoral Studies.

In addition, ESR seeks to develop and offer seminars to meetings and churches designed to identify persons who are called to pastoral ministry.  This is a project not currently supported by the annual budget.  $5,000 per year would fund 20 seminar opportunities in meetings around the country.  This is a direct effort to address the problem of supply and demand and is the type of approach that can be one part of a suitable solution.

Finally, ESR offers an annual pastors conference as a continuing education event.  A lively gathering that has grown over five years to nearly fifty attendees, it brings together pastors, students, and ESR faculty with leaders in the field.  Together, they spend two days wrestling with current challenges faced by pastors and local congregations.  In the process, important bonds are forged between all participants.  These prove to be relationships that create trust, support and bear fruit.  Cost for this conference has been born by 1% funds in recent years.  $3,000 annual support will fund this event.

Philanthropic Goal: $68,000 annual support – $1,750,000 endowment.

B. Pastoral Care and Counseling

A hospital patient faces the possibility of death and in the process, encounters anxiety about the reality of death and the meaning of life.  After fifteen years of marriage, a couple realizes they need a third party to help them address and resolve issues that threaten their happiness.  Members of a retirement community look to the staff to help create a meaningful spiritual community in the final phase of their life.  Scenarios like these are plentiful, but where does one look for qualified persons to serve as ministers in these critical moments?

ESR's School's pastoral care and counseling program provides exceptional grounding in pastoral counseling skills, along with advanced training in helping persons cope with life's major transition moments, such as marriage, family, death, and emergency situations.  This program is especially attractive to unprogrammed Friends, who are particularly attracted to practicing their ministry in non-pastoral settings.  ESR's newest faculty hire in this area brings particular expertise in working with individuals threatened by burn out in their own ministries—a key area in retaining healthy ministers committed to their callings.

ESR seeks funding for the faculty position in Pastoral Care and Counseling.  Again, in an era of budgetary constraints, in which positions could be cut, we seek to create a permanent faculty position.  Annual support dedicated to the Pastoral Care and Counseling program can assure this will be the case.  A major gift could establish a Chair in Pastoral Care and Counseling.

Philanthropic Goal: $60,000 annual support – $1,500,000 endowment

C. Peace and Justice

Injustice prowls the world like a lion stalking its prey.  Violence roars, its frightening echoes heard in the distance.  Humanity yearns for security, so desperate to find a safe haven that it will sell its soul for false promises, flawed plans, and feeble values, none of which can deliver the desired outcome.  Can there be any doubt that our world needs more advocates of peace and justice—persons willing to invest heart and soul into leading by example.  Persons eager to proclaim the gospel as Jesus envisioned it—dedicated to a peace that passes all understanding, and prepared to shake the foundations of the powers that be in order to bring it to pass.

An impressive peace tradition flows like a mighty river through the generations of Quaker history.  Three hundred fifty years later, Friends wrestle with the place of a peace testimony in contemporary faith and practice, and in its implication for political views and military strategies.  At the very least, this important voice serves as an alternative to dominant ideologies that promote violence and reinforce injustices.  At most, it lifts up an alternative paradigm that seeks to transform the world.

Earlham School of Religion is well positioned to be a leader in the area of peace studies.  It positions the rich peace tradition, so important to Quaker identity in prior generations, as a cornerstone of its education.  It understands the dynamics of oppressive systems and the conflicts they produce.  It is capable of preparing persons to speak truth to power and be agents of peace, justice and reconciliation.

ESR seeks funding for the faculty position in Peace and Justice Studies.  Again, in an era of budgetary constraints, in which positions could be cut, we seek to create a permanent faculty position.  Annual support dedicated to the Peace and Justice program can assure this will be the case.  A major gift could establish a Chair in Peace and Justice Studies.

An additional priority is funding off-campus student field trips that provide valuable experience in this field.  Previous excursions have included protests at the School of Americas, participation in conflict resolution training, and engagement in ministry opportunities in Appalachian culture.

Philanthropic Goal: $70,000 annual support – $1,750,000 endowment.

D. Spirituality

What does one name that most basic urging to be in relationship with God?  We grope for an adequate description, but come closest with the word "spirituality."  Just as God is Spirit, our efforts to know God and live accordingly draws us to the consideration of things related to spirituality.  Journeying into this field of study can be nothing other than foundational to preparation for ministry.

ESR believes that a particular Quaker spirituality shapes how one approaches the task of ministry.  Friends' understanding of listening to the Inner Light is foundational to this discipline.  Finding a voice and vocabulary to express our experience of God is central to the process.  Cultivating spiritual friendships provides nurture and accountability, establishes good personal spiritual practice that promotes wholeness, and prepares students to replicate this practice with others.

In 2001-02, ESR undertook a review of the spirituality portion of the curriculum.  Conversations with students, faculty, alumni, and Friends confirmed that Quaker spirituality is one of the hallmark features of its program.  Students from Friends and from other denominations are equally attracted to this curriculum.

ESR seeks funding for the faculty position in Christian Spirituality.  Again, in an era of budgetary constraints, in which positions could be cut, we seek to create a permanent faculty position.  Annual support dedicated to the Christian Spirituality program can assure this will be the case.  A major gift could establish a Chair in Christian Spirituality.

As a means of contributing the wider community, ESR offers an annual, one-day Spirituality Gathering.  This serves a contribution to the Richmond area, local churches, alumni, and prospective students.  It is a both a continuing education event and a public relations event.  Previously, this event has been funded by 1% repositioning funds from ESR's endowment.  To continue the conference, $3,000 in annual support will be need to be provided.

Philanthropic Goal: $70,000 annual support – $1,750,000 endowment