This week in the academic calendar is designated as “Fall Reading Week,” and there is a break from regular classes and time to catch up on assignments. [I always remind students that this is not the only week during the semester that they are to read!] This week also offers opportunity for Doctor of Ministry students to fill the classrooms, and currently we have three cohorts of gifted ministry practitioners on campus.
Last Thursday we welcomed our second group of doctoral students from Myanmar Institute of Theology. Clad in jackets and wooly hats, they have journeyed from warmer climates into the first nippy fall weather here in Shawnee. As the hills blush with the colors of turning leaves, Kansas is serving up an autumnal landscape. Collaborating in leadership development with our sister school in Yangon provides an opportunity to learn ministry challenges in global context.
The lectionary reading speaks of the work of Jesus in “bringing many children to glory” and the significance of claiming common spiritual heritage as brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:10-12). When you visit a classroom at Central, you will be delighted at the remarkable diversity—not only ethnically, but also in terms of practice of ministry and life experience.
Leadership development is essential for faithful Gospel witness. As Joan Chittister writes in Monastery of the Heart,
Leaders must be an example to the community of its best self: open, loving, hospitable; committed to the study of the Word; kind and understanding of the struggles we all face on the way to the holy emptiness of self that is full only of God.
Persons who pursue doctoral studies in ministry understand the ongoing reformation of the church and its mission. They understand that mission involves the interplay of the gathered church, its community, and the nudge of the Holy Spirit. Among these leaders are pastors, chaplains, mental health workers, hospice administrators, denominational leaders, principals of Bible colleges, teachers, and church planters. With insight honed by years of ministry, they help sharpen one another toward the transformative work needed by our world.
I am confident that these leaders offer a vision to their communities of how to be instruments of grace. With wisdom gleaned from years of biblical study and pastoral care, they offer compassion to the suffering and, most important, they point beyond themselves to the “author and finisher” of their faith.
Molly T. Marshall
Central is keenly focused on preparing transformative leaders. To learn more about our mission, continue visiting the website.