Applied Religion at Columbia Union College

APPLIED religion introduces the theology major of Columbia Union College to certain basic principles in ministerial practicum that we believe will provide fundamental preparation for the further training he will receive at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University. . .

-Deportment of Religion, Columbia Union College at the time this article was written

APPLIED religion introduces the theology major of Columbia Union College to certain basic principles in ministerial practicum that we believe will provide fundamental preparation for the further training he will receive at the Theological Seminary at Andrews University.

There are three basic programs that comprise the heart of applied religion opportunities for the theology major at Columbia Union College.

The first of these three is the far-visioned program adopted by the Columbia Union Conference known as the Ministerial Externship Plan. Through this program a recommended theological major is granted conference-salaried ministerial employment in the field during his junior year and before completion of his senior year. This plan carries special scholarship provisions which generously assist the student in his financial program during the completion of his pretheological training.

Inasmuch as this trimester of field training will thus come approximately in the middle of his six-year theological training program (which consists of four years in college and two at the Seminary), it is purposely so timed in the hope that this field experience will develop an abiding enthusiasm and a deepening burden for the gospel ministry.

The externship program is designed to give the student an introduction to five different areas of ministerial service. During this brief exposure the young man will see close up many of the real joys of the pastoral ministry. Teachers in the Religion Department of Columbia Union College all keep this point clear. In other words, our staff unitedly is dedicated to the task of developing a theological student oriented to a pastoral-evangelistic ministry.

First, during this externship the young man will be associated with a successful pastoral ministry.

Second, the theological student is invited to participate in camp meeting labor and in youth camps and programs during the summer that will involve an evangelistic outreach for young people. The student who externs in a trimester other than during the summer fails to gain this particular facet of the work.

Third, an opportunity is to be given the young man to accompany the conference departmental leaders with experience to various conference-oriented departmentally sponsored projects, such as Sabbath school workshops, MV councils, educational committees, et cetera.

Fourth, many times the young theological student is totally unaware of the operations of the work within a conference office set-up. For this reason he may expect experience in observing the operations in the conference office. He will be particularly interested in the operation of the Book and Bible House and the treasury department. He may also meet with certain standing committees of the conference as opportunity may exist. Since the minister's work revolves around his administrative capacities, this early introduction to the financial structure and operations of the church has proved to be a great blessing.

The fifth facet of the young extern's program is, of course, being actively engaged in at least one church revival or evangelistic campaign. He is to be associated with a worker of experience and one who would be capable of giving him proper guidance, inspiration, and a good introduction to the general and evangelistic program of the church.

The second area in applied religion for the theological major lies in the greatly broadened academic schedule that has been clearly defined in the 1968-1970 bulletin. According to this plan, if the student will follow the sequence of courses as suggested, he will take all of his applied religion courses during his fourth year, or final trimester, of study. The courses and classes are so scheduled and arranged that the classroom work is done in the first half of the trimester and the last half of the trimester is devoted entirely to a practical field program.

A pastoral council has been created, with selected ministers in the area serving on the council. These ministers were chosen in cooperation with the leadership of the local conference who, in turn, under the chairmanship of the conference president, called the ministers together for a special meeting to organize this pastoral council. This gave added strength and emphasis to the program.

Thus in essence and to some degree, these selected pastors of the field are auxilliary teachers in the religion department to assist in the practical training of the undergraduate theological student. These ministers so arrange their schedules and programs that a strong evangelistic project will be under way during the student's assignment to his church.

The plan calls for the student to be assigned to the church as soon as he achieves his status as a senior. In this way the young man will be quite well oriented to the church and will have participated in the regular weekly services of the congregation before his highly concentrated practicum program during his last trimester. It is recommended that the student transfer his membership to the church to which he has been assigned and thus be eligible to serve as an elder or a deacon of that particular church. By serving in this capacity the young man could function in the administering of the ordinances and other services of the church.

The third area in which the theological student at Columbia Union College may find opportunity for field service concerns itself with urban problems and especially the needs of the inner city.

The department of religion encourages religion and theology majors to plan their program to include work in psychology, sociology, and religion that will prepare them for an urban ministry. A minor in sociology is recommended for those interested in ministering to the inner city.

Our Student Ministerial Association and the annual retreats, along with the weekly meetings, are an on-going entity for the field program as well. A constitution has been adopted governing this body, and attendance is expected. Preaching in twenty-five area churches is channeled through the association. Reports are kept of the upper-division student participation and become a part of the final grade of the comprehensive oral examinations for the senior. This has made attendance and participation in the Student Ministerial Association meaningful to the student on campus and in the development of confidence for his future ministry.

With these major programs available applied religion has received a strong emphasis to augment the other courses required of theology students in preparation for their seminary experience. The success of the program has been tremendously encouraging to us in the department of religion. The emphasis here still remains as it has historically been for Columbia Union College, the institution at the denominational headquarters that provides the Gateway to Service.


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-Deportment of Religion, Columbia Union College at the time this article was written

March 1969

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