A Different Kind of Study Leave

This week, I’m on a different kind of study leave. I have literally gone back to school, entering the Doctor of Ministry program at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

A Doctor of Ministry degree program is categorized as a professional degree, rather than an academic degree. It is a form of continuing education for ministers, with an assumption that you are working full-time in ministry. Twice a year, I’ll have a one-week intensive in-person seminar, with preparation done prior to that, and a 30-page paper due a couple of months after it. This will lead up to creating an integrative portfolio from my classes, and completing a special project, like a dissertation or a multimedia presentation.

The “track” that I am on is called “Leadership for Public Theology.” The importance of doing public justice work has grown for Live Oak, and we are frequently asked to be involved with events happening at city council or school board meetings, addressing county issues, such as the Williamson County confederate statue, and engaging with proposed legislation at the Texas Legislature. I look forward to learning new ways for us to be more effective in living our values “out loud.” This next January, the DMin Intensive week will be a travel seminar to the Texas-Mexico borderlands focusing on the justice issues there. Over the next three years, I’ll have seminars in Religion in American Life, Power, Justice, Freedom, and Preaching and Communication.

Along the way, I am sure I will encounter new ideas and knowledge that I’m certain will make their way into sermons and other things. As they say, “stay tuned for more.”