November 29, 2017
This past summer, The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) awarded the Institute of Pastoral Studies and Dr. Dan Rhodes with an Innovative Projects grant to aid in developing a new approach to Contextual Education (CE) in the model of Theological Action Research Teams (TART).
As part of the research associated with this ATS grant, Professors Therese Lysaught and Dan Rhodes recently traveled to The Centre for Theology & Community (CTC) in East London, UK. While in England, Professors Lysaught and Rhodes met with CTC Director, Rev. Angus Ritchie as well as persons in their lay community, community organizers connected with the Centre, and a priest and lay leader from a Catholic Parish in nearby Manor Park.
“The Centre is doing some amazingly creative work and reinventing what parish and lay ministry look like,” says Professor Rhodes, “and the trip was wonderfully informative for learning how to engage participants in Action Research projects as well as for glimpsing the future of lay ministry.”
CTC’s Rev. Angus Ritchie and IPS’s Dan Rhodes in East London
The CE program continues to research and take preliminary steps toward instituting the TART model, building infrastructure, strengthening community partnerships, and developing programmatic components aiming to launch the first IPS student cohort to engage the TART/CE model in Fall 2018.
The long-term goal is to implement a thoroughly re-imagined approach to CE based on a model of Theological Action Research Teams (TART). This expanded and more thoroughly integrated approach to CE engages students from their first semester forward. It shifts to a 30-week placement accompanied by coaching, learning communities, skill-focused workshops, and practical instruction. Working with community partners, students will engage in discerning community-identified issues and, subsequently, organize community-based, co-creative, and theologically informed initiatives for addressing these issues. Additionally, this approach aims to develop a program of theological education that attracts and retains under-served and underrepresented students, as well as engendering new faculty scholarship across theological/ministerial specialties rooted in community collaboration.
In adopting the TART model, IPS will form equipped leaders to serve the church and society in the twenty-first century and will pioneer a model of theological education based on the process of action research teams.