From the early 1980s the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary has been teaching extension courses in North America. These intensive courses are taught at various locations, making it possible for ministers to study toward a seminary degree or continuing education credits even as they continue to serve. Normally the courses are conducted on the campus of an Adventist college. Two degree programs are offered: Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (M.A.Min.) and Doctor of Ministry program. We will discuss the doctoral program in a later issue.
The M.A.Min. was designed for established pastors who have been unable to finish the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree. A recent survey indicates that 61 percent of pastors in North America do not have the M.Div., and 54 percent have no graduate degree at all in religion or ministry.
While the M.Div. provides the most complete preparation for pastoral leadership and is by North American Division policy the normal educational expectation for ordination, the M.A.Min. fills a need for those who are unable to obtain the M.Div. The evaluation responses of students in the M.A.Min. program indicate that the courses give them a stronger knowledge of the Bible, a deeper spirituality, new ideas for preaching and leadership, stronger self-confidence in their ministerial roles, and thereby greater effectiveness. An important side benefit is the personal encouragement and support that pastors feel from the fellowship and sharing with their colleagues.
In order to participate in the M.A.Min. courses a person must be at least 35 years of age and ordained. Women in ministry who have the experience normally associated with ordination are welcomed. This age and ordination requirement directs younger and beginning pastors to pursue the M.Div. according to the policy mentioned above. Applicants must also have a bachelor's degree with a grade point average of at least 2.50.
Three courses are offered annually for a total of 12 credits. Presession assignments must be completed prior to the intensives, and postsession work is to be sent to the instructor. Under this plan the 72 credits required for the degree can be earned in a six-year cycle.
In addition to the English program there are five locations that offer a Hispanic track where all the courses are taught in Spanish. A new one-time Hispanic cycle has just begun in the Southern Union with classes held near Orlando, Florida.
The program is financially supported by the union conferences. However, there is a block of credits that must be taken in residence at the seminary for which students must pay. Some conferences and unions have continuing education policies that grant assistance for the cost of this residency work, as well as for travel, food, and lodging for the off-campus intensives.
Enrollment procedures Individuals interested in taking any of these courses must preregister. Here is the procedure: 1. Review your qualification for participation. 2. Contact your union conference ministerial director and obtain the appropriate course requirement sheets, preregistration form, and book order form. 3. Arrange for your participation with your conference administration. 4. Send your preregistration form to the seminary. 5. Order your books. 6. Complete your preintensive assignments. 7. Come to the intensive on time. 8. Finally, complete postintensive requirements and send them to your instructor.
For specific information, please contact:
M.A.Min. secretary---Jan Higgins, phone, (616)471-3544
M.A.Min. director---Douglas Kilcher, phone, (616) 471-3245
Seminary fax---(616) 471-6202