This year, as well as my M.Div. and M.A.s, I had two Doctor of Ministry students graduating.
Here they are in a group selfie from just before marching in for the ceremony. They were still The Rev. Mr. Naweji and The Rev. Mr. Ankrum at this point.
Dr Naweji and Dr Ankrum
Nothing wrong with that at all. These guys could have continued perfectly well with just their M.Div.s.
Doing the D.Min. is a lot of work, and completely voluntary. They did it because they wanted to grow, to learn, and to serve Christ more effectively in their congregations.
I’m really proud of them.
We cooked up a pretty unusual D.Min., my teaching partner and I (I had the privilege of working with the inimitable and remarkable Rev. Dr. Joseph Small): Three years engaging with the best thinkers on the nature of the pastoral vocation from Patristic, Medieval, Reformation, and Modern times.
It was a wild ride. We wanted our students to engage with the riches of their heritage, both from the broader Christian tradition and from their own denominations. We wanted them to develop a theological understanding of ministry that drew on the best of the past and would work in the present.
These guys did it!
So let me tell you a bit about their projects.
Emmanuel Naweji is a native of The Democratic Republic of Congo, now a United Methodist elder pastoring two congregations in western Iowa.
The Ministry of United Methodist Pastors from the Democratic Republic of Congo Serving American United Methodist Churches: A Vision for Renewing United Methodist Ministry Drawn on Wesleyan and Congolese Experience
Yes, he got the special prize for longest title.
The long title came from an ambitious goal: He explored three defining aspects of the ministry of John Wesley, the amazing founder of the Methodist movement. He traced these priorities as Methodism moved through four contexts:
- Original Methodism
- 19th century Methodist mission to the Congo
- The fully Congolese United Methodist Church
- Congolese ministers today ministering in the United States
He looked at how these priorities have continued and changed, and developed his own vision for thriving Methodist ministry.
Martin Ankrum is a native of Iowa, now serving as Pastor and Head of Staff in a big congregation in Western Pennsylvania. Since we were actually pals back at Princeton Seminary I was particularly honored that he signed up for the program.
The Teaching Elder: Recovering a Needed Pastoral Model
Martin is a Presbyterian, and our denomination recently changed the official titles of our ordained pastoral leaders from “Minister of Word and Sacrament” to “Teaching Elder.” It is a complicated story, but we revived an older title, both to better embody a Reformed understanding of ministry and to keep our attention on a crucial priority.
Martin’s thesis takes this change seriously digging into a variety of important historical mentors who strongly emphasized the teaching ministry. He does three great things in the process
- He analyzes the deep need of churches for a coherent and focused teaching ministry. Without it, as he points out, even if we know that we believe we don’t know what we believe. It is hard to thrive that way — especially in the Reformed tradition.
- He dives into John Calvin as a role model for this. The 16th Century reformer and pastor was at heart a teacher. That was his calling in Geneva, and that was his understanding of ministry: the Church is, by nature, a school for faithful discipleship, and it needs teachers.
- He proposes a model for the 21st century pastor focused on the ministry of teaching — and he places it in the context of a pastor’s life that is not fractured and fragmented by the conflicting demands of congregations that want us to be marketers, managers, psychologists, and cruise directors.
Well done my friends.
I’m proud of you Dr Naweji and Dr Ankrum! You’ve taken on hard tasks and done well. May your investment repay you a hundredfold in a ministry that is true to your faith and effective in your context.
And I pray you find ways to bring your work to the benefit of the larger Church. God knows we need it.