Candler School of Theology revised its Contextual Education program curriculum with a renewed focus on education of prospective congregational leaders through student site placement in local congregations; the school attempted to contextualize the entire curriculum and establish the practice of ministry as foundational to the theological curricula. The grant had a specific component on faculty grants which enabled the faculty to contextualize their “regular” teaching courses by being more sensitive and responsive to the contextual issues of ministry.
The program ran a series of Reflection Seminars which placed a student under a site supervisor at a local congregation and also under an on-campus teaching supervisor; these seminars provided forums for structured reflection on the student’s experiences while at placement. Relationships between the school and the church public it serves were thus established by a local congregation’s active involvement in a student’s learning experience and the opportunity for theological reflection on site experiences which introduced students to the most pertinent issues of congregational ministry. Site supervisors from local congregations were integrally involved in these reflection seminars.
As a result of the re-orientations in its contextual education program, the school reported significant improvement in its relationship with the local United Methodist conference and having more contact with local congregations.