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Wesleyan Studies

In 1985, the Divinity School initiated a program of United Methodist Studies, designed to provide opportunities for United Methodist students to learn more about the life and traditions of their denomination. Under the direction of Professor M. Douglas Meeks since 1998, the program offers students opportunities for:

• General and advanced courses in Wesleyan Theology
• Required courses for United Methodist ordination: Theology, History, Polity, and Evangelism
• Fellowship and spiritual growth
• Nurture and support in discipleship through Covenant Discipleship Groups
• Study of developments in church life through visiting speakers
• Innovative worship services
• Wesleyan immersion trips to England and internships in England and elsewhere
• Annual retreat


United Methodist Student Association. The UMSA sponsors a number of opportunities for worship, fellowship, and growth throughout the academic year. Programming includes covenant discipleship groups (see below),and monthly luncheones, as well as special events. UMSA events are gatherings designed: 1) to discuss the Wesleyan heritage in relation to the students' preparation for ordained and lay ministry, 2) to discuss matters of spiritual formation, 3) to meet with regional and national leaders in the UMC (including yearly meetings with the Bishop, a couple of District Superintendents, the chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, and staff members of the UMC Boards), and 4) to work at deepening students' ecumenical awareness and involvement in the social and justice ministries of the church (these have included meetings on health care and prison ministries, evangelism and UM media, congregational involvement in the community, and college chaplaincy). These meetings provide United Methodist students in the divinity school an opportunity for learning, interaction, and dialogue with persons of various backgrounds in ministry. Recent luncheons have featured:

*Bishop Richard Wills, Tennessess Annual Conference, discussing how new clergy can prepare vocationally and spiritually for a life in ministry. 

* Rev. Pamela Hawkins, managing editor of Weavings Magazine, leading an exploration of Wesleyan spiritual practices and methods for nurturing spiritual lives. 

* A colloquy on Latin American immigration and the church, with conversation and presentations from Amanda Bachus, director and editor of Spanish language resources at United Methodist Communications; David Esquivel, a volunteer and lawyer for the Nashville Justice for Our Neighbors legal clinic; and respresntatives from the Coalition for Education about Immigration (CEI), a grassroots organization devoted to facilitating educated, rational and informed conversation on immigration and related issues. 

* Rev. Meg Lassiet, Director of Candidacy, Mentoring, and Conference Relations for GBHEM, reviewing the outcome of hte lastest Study on Ministry. 

* Jerry Nail, Prison Ministry Chairperson for the Tennessee Annual Conference, discussing his work facilitating the Sisciple Bible program in prisons across Middle Tennessee.

* Rev. Judi Hoffman, Edgehill UMC, and Rev. Paul Slentz, 61st Avenue UMC, on ministry with low-income communities. 

The 2012-2013 Executive Committee of the UMSA includes:

United Methodist Boards and Agencies. Nashville is an important center for United Methodist boards and agencies, including the General Board of Discipleship, The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Publishing House, and United Methodist Communications. Here experts from all across world Methodism converge for the leadership of the church. These persons, who have acquired knowledge and insight vital to effective Christian ministry, are called upon for leadership roles in the Vanderbilt program. There is an annual dinner for United Methodist divinity students and the General Boards in Nashville. This is a unique opportunity to foster a relationship between divinity students and the officers and staff persons of the United Methodist General Boards, which opens up opportunities for dialogue, mutual cooperation in efforts in ministry, and internships.

The Divinity School is also located only a block away from the beautiful campus of The Scarritt-Bennett Center, a United Methodist Center for lay and continuing clergy education which has offered opportunities for  joint endeavors in worship, the arts, lay and diaconal education, and evangelism.

Covenant Discipleship Groups are designed to give students a regular setting for accountable discipleship and mutual support in spiritual formation. The groups meet for one hour each week and are organized around the students' actual experience of and accountability for acts of devotion, worship, compassion, and justice. The shape and theology of these groups are Wesleyan but are also adaptable to the main strands of the Christian tradition. Some non-Methodist students participate in the CD groups.

Wesley Heritage Immersion In England. Every few years, Dr. Meeks leads students on an immersion trip to England. The trip involves extended stays in Salisbury, England, with visits to Methodist heritage sites in Oxford, Bristol, and London and is concentrated on the Wesley historical sites. British church historians and church leaders have lectured on Wesleyan and Methodist history and the group visits sites of contemporary British Methodist ministries to the poor. Our next immersion in England will be in May of 2013. This immersion experience can be used for academic credit, either as United Methodist Worship (with some additional coursework) or as a Global Immersion and used for Field Education.

For more information, please contact our Methodist Program Coordinator, Carolyn Davis.


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