Methodist Theological School in Ohio has a longstanding commitment to Christian education. In 1969, the Master of Religious Education degree became the second degree program offered by the school. That program, renamed the Master of Arts in Christian Education in the early 1970s, will become the Master of Arts in Practical Theology in the fall of 2011.
"Congregations are increasingly using the language of formation, discipleship and age-level ministries in place of educational nomenclature," said MTSO Academic Dean Randy Litchfield, who also holds the Browning Chair of Christian Education. "A leader in one of these ministries is less likely to be understood as a minister or director of Christian education. The role is more likely to be thought of as that of a pastor-leader of a group."
Students in the MAPT program will have the opportunity to choose from among four specializations: youth and young adults, ecology and justice, spiritual formation and small groups, and parish and community ministry. A student will choose 12 hours of courses tailored to his or her specialization, along with other required and elective courses.
Students who have begun pursuing a MACE degree prior to the conversion to the MAPT in the fall of 2011 may choose to complete the MACE or transfer into the MAPT program. The MAPT requires 59 credit hours, one hour more than the MACE.
Litchfield said by making the transition to a Practical Theology program, MTSO will maintain its relevance and leadership in the Christian education field while engaging new areas. For example, students will have greater flexibility to study youth ministry and issues of ecology, which both are specialties of Timothy Van Meter, assistant professor of Christian education and youth ministry.
"I've personally spent years preparing Christian educators on this campus," Litchfield said, "and I've been inspired by the expertise and leadership in the field offered by Bob Browning, Joanmarie Smith, Chuck Foster and other professors at MTSO. I believe this evolution is consistent with this legacy. It's exciting to consider how MAPT moves us into the future and the options it lets us offer our students."
Danny Russell, director of communication