Theological Formation

Program for Theological Formation

The Program for Theological Formation trains persons to think and live theologically and ecclesially.

The Program forms persons to engage intentionally in the baptismal and eucharistic life of their congregations, and to help their congregations embody our Christian story in the world.

By enriching an understanding of the ministry of the whole Church, graduates of the program take active roles in their congregations and in the diocese to help the Church discern and engage in the ministry of Christ in the world.

The life of the Episcopal School for Ministry is a comprised of worship, fellowship, and study. We gather for prayer, learning, and mutual support. Each weekend that the School meets is structured by Morning and Evening Prayer, the Eucharist, and Compline. We share meals together, and we share our journeys of discipleship with each other. Many students cherish these weekends as a mini-retreat. The learning is challenging but accessible to all types of students. We have students with advanced academic backgrounds and others with very little educational experience after high school.

The Theological Formation program addresses the basic subjects of theology: Old and New Testaments; Tradition, including Anglican tradition; Theology; Sacraments; Spirituality; Liturgy; and Preaching. The program is a three year sequence comprised of three terms each year. Each term (Spring Summer, and Fall) is held on three weekends from Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. Each term begins with a Saturday only introductory session.

Students who wish to complete the entire three year sequence of ESM courses should plan to begin the fall term by taking the Spirituality course. With permission of the Dean, you may take single courses that are of particular interest to you.


Course Descriptions

Year One (Summer Term): Christian Spirituality

Dr. Donna Hawk-Reinhard, Instructor
Christian Spirituality explores the intimate relationship God has established with us and the variety of responses disciples have made to God's love over the years.  From the meaning of the word -- Spirituality -- the breath of life, the prayer of Israel, and the Church; from the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Desert Mothers and Fathers, and the Benedictine and Celtic roots of the Anglican tradition, we will immerse ourselves in Prayer Book spirituality and see spiritual practices that nurture and support the church's ministry in the 21st century.  This course serves as the introduction to the life of the school, and forms the basis on which the rest of the work of the school is built.

Year One (Fall Term): Old Testament
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Willock, Instructor
In order to understand what happened with Jesus, and what it means for you, us, and the world, you have to spend a lot of time with the Old Testament. This course allows the student to do just this. The student reads much of the Old Testament, and learns how to grasp what is being read. There is the opportunity to explore in more depth a particular theme that becomes central to the Christian faith. Here is a chance to engage the Bible with purpose, discipline, and with fellow learners.
Year One (Winter/Spring): New Testament
Dr. Ron Crown, Instructor
This class examines the world of the New Testament, Jesus and the Gospels, and Acts and the Epistles.

Year One (Summer Term): Church History overview
The Rev. Dr. Marshall Crossnoe, Instructor.

Year Two (Fall Term): Theological method and reflection

This course develops a method of theological reflection that can be applied to scripture, life moments, texts etc.  It will also introduce the student to some of the great themes of the Christian tradition (atonement, Incarnation, etc.)

Year Two (Winter/Spring & Summer terms): Preaching and Liturgics

The Rev. Drs. Barbara Willock and Deb Goldfeder, Instructors
One of the chief responsibilities of ministry is teaching the Church its story and then helping the Church keep that story straight. Nowhere is this more visible than in the act of preaching.  Thus, satisfactory completion of ESM's courses on Old and New Testament (or equivalent) and Theological method and reflection are requirements for the preaching course.  The focus of the course is practical.  Students will prepare and deliver two sermons, and receive feedback from students and faculty.  Those in the process for ordination to the diaconate will deliver those sermons in the contextual placement.

Liturgy is a mode of communication, and contributes to the proclamation of the Gospel.  Students will learn how liturgy communicates, and gain experience in planning and participating in a number of different liturgical services.

Year Three (Fall Term):  History in depth
Instructor tba
This course will cover major turning points in Church history, and focus on the history of the Anglican Communion.
Year Three (Winter/Spring Term): Theology
Instructor tba
This course will cover the major strands and themes of the discipline of theology, focusing on Anglican theologians.
Year Three (Summer Term): Priestly Formation
Instructor tba
This a required course for those in the process toward ordination to the priesthood, and will help students identify their own understanding of the Church's priesthood, and their specific gifts for it.

More Info

Contact ESM Dean, the Rev. Dr. Marshall Crossnoe