Chartering the Waters of a Doctorate of Ministry
Three years ago I felt the Lord impress on me the need to do a Doctorate of Ministry course, something I had not at all expected to pursue. So began my quest to find a quality course that fulfilled the following personal criteria:
- A college with a positive attitude towards women in ministry
- An openness to various theological backgrounds
- Affordable and professional
George Fox Seminary fulfilled each of these and so in September 2013, I set sail on my quest to begin my journey of pursuing a D.Min. The following is a summary of the benefits I have encountered in this great adventure.
- Leadership – the warm welcome and leadership of Lead Mentor, Dr. Jason Clark, made a positive difference in my experience as a student. Finding a course leader who has such a positive regard for women in ministry was so refreshing. In addition, his encouragement and guidance to all students during the first few nervous months made settling into the demands of the course much more navigable.
- Course Structure – having structured coursework provided a helpful framework, enabling me to remain better disciplined amidst my demanding ministry schedule. Weekly readings and assignments, online chats with fellow students, under the supervision of our Lead Mentor, all aided me in keeping up with the requirements of the course.
- Cohort community – one of the pleasant surprises of the course has been the wonderful community we have experienced as a student body. Everyone on the course is in some form of ministry and so meeting online each week, and having the opportunity to review and input into each other’s work, offering shared wisdom and insights, has certainly enriched my personal ministry. It has been a special blessing to have friendships with outstanding men and women in ministry, both in the student body and staff, who have encouraged and provided me with much-needed guidance.
- International advances – Meeting annually at various overseas locations (London, South Africa and Hong Kong) for a shared learning experience has provided not only high quality education moments, but also deeper relationships and shared memories that will last. Having the opportunity to share meals with faculty members and friends, learning from and encouraging one another through the workshops, and meeting with indigenous leaders has been a real gain.
- Course content – As a first-time church planter in need of learning how to develop a church, having the freedom to choose this subject as my focus of dissertation research, proved to be a real asset in my work. Being able to charter my own course that is specific to my current and future ministry needs, has enabled me to learn and grow significantly as a minister. Also critically engaging with books as varied as prayer and apartheid, the Gay debate and Asian tiger mothers, encourage us as students to think about facing contemporary global topics one would not normally have the time to address.
- Personal Leadership Development – Each semester we were required to submit a journal that addressed the following questions: Who am I? Where am I going? How am I going to get there? Who is going to help me? How am I doing? This reflective and practical exercise encouraged us to give valuable time and thought to develop our own ministry journey.
- Distance learning – Living in the UK whilst studying with an American University raised some concerns at first, but these were quickly dispelled. Engaging in an international Doctorate from an overseas country really has not hindered my learning process at all. In fact, my Lead Mentor and personal Advisor are both located in the UK too, which has been beneficial.
Overall this course has definitely added to my life both personally and in terms of ministry growth. I am now better equipped to lead my church and feel more confident as a woman in ministry. I have developed friendships that will last, plus through the readings and community, have been challenged to better understand and critique viewpoints different to my own. I highly recommend George Fox Seminary as a quality place of professional leadership learning.