DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Ethnography Story Post – London/Oxford Advance 2016

Written by: on February 18, 2017

“One of the goals of the sensory ethnographer is to seek to know places in other people’s worlds that are similar to how they are known by those people. In doing so we aim to come closer to understanding how other people experience, remember and imagine.”[1]

My Personal Interests

My dream since I was 5 years old was to be a missionary. I am also passionate about history. That is why the Doctor of Ministry – Leadership in Global Perspectives Track – is so exciting for me. I will get first hand experience in cultures that are different than mine. I was also excited about applying for this degree because it is Cohort based, and the members of my cohort are from all over the United States and other parts of the world.

The advances that are part of the program make real-life learning about people in other places possible. Capturing the experiences as photos or videos enables me to preserve lifetime memories and to share the experiences with others.

New Knowledge and Synthesis

The many events and encounters with people and sights in London and Oxford contributed to my learning experience. A variety of speakers presented different facets of ministry. The topics were wide ranging and included many things from forming charities to leadership.

“Photographic surveys or attempts to represent physical environments, objects, events or performances can form part of a reflexive ethnography.”[3]  While in Oxford I photographed many historic sites. The chance to see so many places that I had only read about could not be passed up. Standing in places where God’s servants have stood, some even martyred for their faith, was a deep spiritual experience that I will never forget.


Since the advance I have worked on reflective practice and critical thinking skills. Our assigned books help us to read more selectively, intelligently, and critically. They require much reflection and reflexivity, or integrating them into my life.

I have also had the joy and privilege of becoming a member of a Cohort of 10 people, all from different geographical, social, and cultural backgrounds. We bonded amazingly quickly at the advance. By the end of the first day, we were a caring, loving community. Since the advance we have shared frequently online, keeping up with important events in each other’s lives. I thank God for the privilege of learning and growing with this wonderful group of godly Christians.


Originally I wanted to do a video ethnography project at the advance. My old iPhone did not have enough memory. When I got home I decided to do a video ethnography project anyway. I based my project on several aspects of Sarah Pink’s Sensory Ethnography book – reflexivity, interviewing on a walk, and using media.

Reflexivity “is a collaborative process through which shared understandings (to the extent that they can be shared) are produced.”[4]

“The idea that walking with others – sharing their step, style and rhythm – creates an affinity, empathy or sense of belonging with them, has long since been acknowledged by ethnographers.”[5]

“The possibility that bringing together ethnographic, artistic and media representations might create a sense of intimacy sufficiently powerful to invite empathetic understandings and communicate experiential knowing to audiences has been suggested across practices and media.”[6]

This is the impetus for my video ethnography project. The title of the project is “Walking with Others: One Method of Ending Racial Discrimination”. I put together the elements of interview, walking, and reflection to urge viewers to consider doing their part in helping to end racial discrimination by facing their fears, ambivalence, or shyness to get to know someone who is different than they are. They will find that people are more alike than different.

Here is the link to the video:

“Walking With Others”


While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. (Luke 24:15)

Since childhood I have dreamed of becoming a missionary. Part of that dream was to be able to travel to other parts of the world meeting people and getting to know them while sharing the love of Christ. Earlier this year I was thinking of beginning work on a PhD but I now believe the Lord was calling me to spend my time learning something more practical involving real life experience. I put the PhD on hold and joined with a group of others on a journey to learn more about God, each other, and leadership in an international environment. I believe that the Doctor of Ministry – “Leadership in Global Perspectives” – will actually make me better equipped to serve God in His Kingdom as I minister to real people in our diverse world. And of course, I will get to travel!

We were prepared before the advance for this first semester to think about our new knowledge critically and reflexively. In London and Oxford, the classroom time, faculty lectures, talks from leaders in all walks of society, pecha kucha research presentations, learning tours of Oxford and Christ Church, and the interaction with all of the special people involved combined to give memorable, life-changing experiences.

At the advance in London, our Cohort bonded amazingly quickly, forming a great working group. We also had a lot of fun outside of classroom time! Other wonderful blessings were the deep spiritual experiences as I visited some historical sites that I have only read about in books. The feeling of connectivity with those saints of long ago was awesome.

Sarah Pink’s book, Doing Visual Ethnography (I also read Doing Sensory Ethnography) gave us inspiration for using photography in our research and eventual ethnography project.

I was hoping to produce a video story of our experiences in London and Oxford, but my old iPhone did not have much memory. On returning home I produced a video ethnography project incorporating the aspects of using video media along with walking and interviewing and reflexivity upon my return home.

This semester is only the beginning of a journey of learning and growing with my cohort as we learn to be leaders wherever God is calling us. I am a missionary at home where we have plenty of social issues to work on. I can also be a global missionary though, thanks to media. I can share the message of hope and love in Christ with anyone who has a computer.














[1] Sarah Pink, Doing Sensory Ethnography (Thousands Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Ltd. 2015), 25.

[2] Sarah Pink, Doing Visual Ethnography (Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Ltd. 2007), 75.

[3] Ibid., 58.

[4] Ibid., 111.

[5] Ibid., 165.

About the Author

Mary Walker

One response to “Ethnography Story Post – London/Oxford Advance 2016”

  1. Jim Sabella says:

    Mary, I enjoyed reading you post and seeing your photos of the Advance. The photos are great! They bring back fond memories of a wonderful and life-changing experience. Great post!

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