INSIDE THE PTS CURRICULUM: Introduction to Caring Ministries
The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professors’ bio.
This week’s course is: “Introduction to Caring Ministries”.
About Introduction to Caring Ministries
This term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about a specific aspect of ministry with the Rev. Dr. Leanna Fuller in the class “Introduction to Caring Ministries.” This is a required course for second year students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program and can also satisfy a requirement for the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree. Introduction to Caring Ministry is available to students in the Master of Theology (MTS) program as well.
In “Introduction to Caring Ministry,” Dr. Fuller introduces students to the theology and practice of caring ministry. The class also pays special attention to pastoral self-awareness and key relational skills. Students in the class will develop their capacity to understand and discern the needs of persons and communities and will also determine appropriate responses to those needs. The course provides a chance for students to explore the intersection of leadership and care through the study of organizational dynamics and group processes.
By the end of the class, students will have an enhanced understanding of pastoral theology and pastoral care and their relationship to one another. Students will also explore and reflect on their Christian identity as caregivers. Dr. Fuller teaches students basic principles, theologies, and theories that ground pastoral care and how to use them to guide and critique their own ministry. Through the process, participants begin developing a practical expertise in the art of pastoral care through skill-building and reflection.
As to required texts, Dr. Fuller uses Debora van Deusen Hunsinger’s Pray without Ceasing, Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrrok and Karen B. Montagno’s Injustice and the Care of Souls, Emmanuel Lartey’s In Living Color, Ronald W. Richardson’s Creating a Healthier Church, and John Savage’s Listening and Caring Skills. In addition to the textbooks, Dr. Fuller assigns pertinent articles from time to time. Coursework typically includes short reflection papers, case study responses, and a final paper.
About the Instructor
A graduate of Vanderbilt University (Ph.D.), Vanderbilt Divinity School (M.Div.), and Furman University (B.A.), the Rev. Dr. Leanna Fuller is in her element when teaching about caring ministry. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, her most recent book is titled When Christ’s Body is Broken: Anxiety, Identity, and Conflict in Congregations (Wipf and Stock, 2016). Fuller has earned numerous fellowships, awards, and honors. She concerns herself with church conflict, and her book uses two case studies to examine the issue toward constructive outcomes. Fuller advises pastors to develop an intentional plan for dealing with congregational conflict—before the conflict arises! Some of the first steps, she says, include acknowledging that anxiety will be present in such circumstances and that the more serious the conflict the more time it will take to resolve it constructively.