The Integrative Seminar: Year in Review

The Rev. Emily Wachner
Director of Integrative Programs

As the year comes to a close, and Wisdom Year students delve into the full life of the parish in Advent and Christmas, we have begun the process of reflecting on the semester that has past. This term was the first in which Wisdom Year work was paired with a demanding 3-credit course of study in practical ministry—the Integrative Seminar.

As a way to introduce you to what has happened this year, here are the top five books, topics, and speakers the Wisdom Year students encountered over the past four months:

1. Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice: An Introduction by Mary Clark Moschella 

We began the year by reading chapters from this book, which encourages pastors to seek to deeply understand cultural context and history by learning the stories of their congregants—and the congregation as a whole. Ethnography, a tool from the field of cultural anthropology, is utilized as a kind of pastoral mirror to help priest and people gain a deeper understanding of their common life.

2. Culture and Context – Immersion into Neighborhood Ministry: Dr. Maria Liu Wong, Dean, City Seminary of New York 

As the year progressed, students were asked to engage in the neighborhood context of their Wisdom Year sites, spending time walking the streets around their parishes. To familiarize the Wisdom Year students with this approach, we visited City Seminary and learned about their deep engagement with Harlem.

3. Introduction to Parish Finance and Stewardship: The Rev. Jerry Keucher and The Rev. Suzanne Culhane

When imagining their first year out of seminary, senior and Anglican Year students uniformly expressed a desire to learn more about parish finance before graduation. The Rev. Jerry Keucher, former CFO of the Diocese of New York, shared his wisdom with us around basic financial concepts, such as assets, endowments, and operating budgets; the Rev. Suzanne Culhane, Curate for Stewardship at Christ Church Greenwich, Connecticut, offered a presentation on theology and practice of stewardship.

4. Congregational Conflict: The Rev. Dr. Jim Cooper

Dr. Cooper, the recently-retired Rector of Trinity Wall Street, visited the Wisdom Year Integrative Seminar to share an inside perspective on congregational conflict, particularly the tumultuous concluding years of his ministry at Trinity Wall Street.

5. Supervisor Interviews: Money and Pastoral Care

Toward the end of the semester, as culminating projects of the Pastoral Care and Parish Finance units, Wisdom Year students interviewed their field education supervisors to gain a deeper understanding of their decision-making when encountering challenging pastoral care situations, and when managing parish finances. Supervisors were remarkably candid in sharing their own experiences, one of the great benefits of the Wisdom Year residency.

The spring semester will include new material—for example, Digital Ministry in the 21st Century—and will revisit topics of great interest to the students, such as parish finance. It is satisfying to see each Wisdom Year student grow in knowledge and experience, and therefore wisdom, as a result of their classroom and field studies.