We’re offering a Certificate in Wesleyan Studies to students in our master’s-level degree programs here at Memphis Theological Seminary. The certificate program was approved by the MTS faculty last spring, and it is now available to students as of this academic year.
I’m really excited about this new development. I see the Certificate in Wesleyan Studies as the centerpiece of the new Methodist House of Studies here at MTS. Let me tell you about it…
What’s the purpose of the Certificate in Wesleyan Studies? It is really two-fold. First, the certificate program will give students the ability to focus a certain number of hours in their elective coursework around courses grounded in the study of the Wesleyan tradition. The courses that already exist offer a diverse range of subject areas: theology, church history, pastoral care, evangelism, rhetoric & religion, denominational studies, and leadership studies. Future courses are in the planning stages that will broaden that range into both preaching and spiritual formation. By taking advantage of these offerings, students can immerse themselves in a level of Wesleyan theological formation that we believe is unique.
The second purpose of the new certificate program is to demonstrate to church judicatory bodies that the Methodist House at MTS is serious about Wesleyan formation for pastoral ministry. Take my own church as an example: the United Methodist Church. We want our United Methodist graduates to be able to go before their Boards of Ordained Ministry with an M.Div degree under one arm and a Certificate in Wesleyan Studies under the other. We want bishops and annual conferences to know that they can send their students to MTS with the knowledge that they’ll be able to take advantage of innovative coursework designed to bring theory and practice together—all in a distinctly Wesleyan accent.
It is true that the requirements for the Certificate in Wesleyan Studies are not particularly easy to attain. Earning the certificate requires 15 hours of coursework in approved courses, in addition to active participation in the Methodist House of Studies during one’s student career here. We allow no transfer hours—all of the courses that apply for the certificate must be earned here at MTS. In our research about certificate programs during the development stage last year, we found that almost no certificates require more than 15 hours save those that are intended to result in some type of professional certification. In other words, we’ve set the bar high on what a student will have to accomplish to graduate with the certificate. But here’s the truth of the matter: That’s exactly how we want it.
We want the Certificate in Wesleyan Studies to really mean something, and we want our graduates who earn it to know that as well.
I am not exaggerating when I say that I believe Memphis Theological Seminary will be offering a wider range of coursework in Wesleyan Studies than any seminary in the United States within two years. We have a critical mass of faculty here who believe that the kind of traditioned approach to theological education that the Methodist House of Studies is advancing is crucial to how we will be going about forming men and women for ministry in the future.
We want to be on the leading edge of those changes.
And you know what? There are plenty of people out there who are considering seminary and wrestling with God’s call right now. If you are one of those people, I hope you’ll join us.