The Doctor of Ministry at UTS
- by Robin James Graham, Director of Institutional Advancement
UTS Barrytown by night, February 2019
The Doctor of Ministry is an advanced theological degree that provides students who are engaged in ministerial leadership the opportunity to enhance and expand their ministerial skills and to reflect on their own theological and spiritual development as men and women of God. It is the capstone professional degree program for individuals who hold the Master of Divinity degree or its equivalent, providing them with the opportunity for further study and reflection and to develop the advanced skills and knowledge required for ministry in the 21st century.
The program challenges students to: 1) assess their ministerial effectiveness and leadership; 2) reflect on their theological and spiritual development in light of their current ministerial responsibilities; 3) develop greater competency in their ministry; 4) pursue a comprehensive research project that leads to a critical examination of some aspect of their ministry in light of congregational needs, societal changes and theological commitments; and 5) become peers and mentors to their colleagues in the program.
Students will soon be arriving at the UTS, Barrytown campus for the Spring 2019 Doctor of Ministry intensive. The 2-week intensive begins on Monday, February 25th. Dr Winings, Director of the Doctor of Ministry program, explains:
“The Spring intensive is when students register for their elective course options. This time around, students will be studying about counseling and spirituality for today’s contemporary family, change management – a new understanding of leadership, and the religious education and ministry needs of today’s families. Faculty this term will include Dr. Jacob David, Dr. Charles Phillips and myself. Students will also be working on their dissertation projects through their specially designed research courses. The research course structure is what makes UTS’ Doctor of Ministry program unique. Whereas most programs provide one research course that covers a wide range of needs and issues, the UTS program offers four research modules with each course addressing one component of the research process from defining the question that will underlie their dissertation project to developing an effective bibliography, determining the method by which the student will organize their project work and collect data and how to develop their dissertation project proposal.”
Dr Winings continues, “For some of the students, this will be the last set of classes that they will need to take. Time goes by very quickly in the Doctoral program because the focus is not on courses but it is on taking more time to reflect on and examine one’s chosen ministry and through that process, gain a greater sense of competency and understanding of their ministry work. For the students who will be completing their coursework with this intensive, they will be focusing on their dissertation projects after this semester. Some of the rich and exciting ministry projects include ministry with veterans, educating for gender balance, work with seniors and work with young adults. The contexts include Family Federation congregations in the United States and Canada, interreligious congregations in Nigeria and the United States, and a Seventh Day Adventist congregation.”
Among the first year DMin students is a young man, James Apronti who shares his spiritual journey.
“My name is James Apronti, I was born in Ghana, and became a Christian in 1998. Since then, I have been diligent in looking for answers to some existential and epistemological questions. In the process of searching for answers, I became actively involved in church work. I was active in my Scripture Union student group in high school. Upon graduating high school, I served my church in various capacities while pursuing a Bachelor degree in Theology. Shortly after graduating from college, I worked with a mission organization as an Administrative Secretary. In June 2010, I started working with Campus Crusade for Christ, West Africa as an administrator, in charge of Digital Strategies. It was a new initiative by the organization which I pioneered for 4 years. While working with Campus Crusade, I designed, recruited and trained over 2,000 Christians to be Online Missionaries in West Africa. I also served as a Community Leader Shepherd for about 500 missionaries.
In June 2014 I gained admission and was given a scholarship to study for Master in Evangelical Theology at Tyndale Theological Seminary. Though I did well in my studies, I did not enjoy my experiences there. I found the theology I was studying to be inconsistent with my beliefs. In October 2015, I withdrew from the seminary to find my real purpose in ministry. I began nurturing the idea of a community of believers who, despite their religious affiliations, fellowship together in worship of God. I believe there are truths in every religion. It is the work of a minister to identify these truths and bring people together on the basis of these truths.
After attending a meeting at a non-profit organization located at the 4 West 43rd Street building in March 2018, by good fortune I saw an interfaith logo on my way downstairs, and the mission of “bridging religious and cultural divides”. I immediately thought to myself, wow! Does this exist? I inquired, and had a long and fruitful conversation with Mr. Robin Graham and the Mrs. Joy Theriot. Mr. Graham invited me to consider applying to the Unification Theological Seminary, while Mrs. Theriot invited me to the Family Church. They have since helped me in navigating this path.
Since then I have become an active member of the New York City Family Church and a Doctor of Ministry student at UTS. Having completed my first of four D. Min. intensives with a GPA of 3.86, I am poised to make the best of this learning experience in order to be equipped and retooled for effective ministry. I share in the theology of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and would like to partner with the movement after graduation to champion the cause of world peace.”
If you would like to support the ongoing education of DMin students like James Apronti, please consider making a donation.