Doctor of Ministry - Concentration in Urban Ministry

(No new registrants for 2015)

In the broadest sense, "urban ministry" refers to a theological understanding of the life and work of the church in urban communities. While the degree is not a traditional research- oriented doctorate, it does involve disciplined learning, research, reflection and engagement over a period of three years.

A unique feature of the Doctor of Ministry is its collaborative pedagogy with Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Urban Policy and Planning and Public Health. This collaboration in ministry and planning is a covenant relationship between the seminary, the candidate, the candidate's congregation, and other persons, institutions and agencies in the ministry context.

The Dissertation/Project
The final dissertation/project provides an opportunity for candidates, in the context of these collaborative relationships, to explore in-depth an aspect of their ministry with which they are presently concerned. Reflection-action and research are the primary pedagogical methods for teaching and learning. The classroom serves to build a community of scholars where students bring their experience into conversation on matters of public importance, with the faculty guiding the process of action-reflection with theoretical inquiry. Emphasis is on supporting critical theological reflection and action research that is context specific, inductive rather than deductive. It joins candidates and faculty in the exchange of information, while at the same time cultivating superior models of dialogue and debate about the best urban ministry practices for church and community revitalization.
The best doctoral work is always in an area you would be working in, with or without a degree program. The program provides the structure and intellectual/spiritual synergy to shape the work, so that it may be available for use by others in similar urban ministry settings. This doctoral work both enhances urban leadership and enables the candidate to make a greater contribution to ministry beyond the local setting.

Doctor of Ministry Objectives
The central objective of the Doctor of Ministry program at New Brunswick Theological Seminary is to provide additional education, beyond the Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree, to persons engaged in metro-urban ministry settings who wish to deepen theological understanding and sharpen ministerial skills. For each candidate, through a learning process of nurturing and clarifying reflection and action, the outcome of the program would be a ministry of measurably increased discernment, empowerment, collaboration, and transformation. Individual pastors and city congregations will experience the immediate benefits of the program.
The pedagogy of our Doctor of Ministry program is a process of learning and doing, research and reflection in conjunction with the practice of ministry. Its methodology is dialectical and dialogical, interdependent and inter-disciplinary. To be authentic, it affirms multicultural diversity and the value of transformational and empowering approaches to theology. Reflection-Action is the primary pedagogical method for both part-time and permanent adjunct faculty teaching in the program. This pedagogical paradigm "requires a collaborative socio-cultural and economic analysis" of the ministry context. A social analysis includes: the focused study of the congregation or ministry (history, theology, and structures, etc.); the demographic study of the community in which the ministry takes place; the denomination to which it belongs; the analysis of economic and government power base; and the analysis of mediating institutions in the community such as other churches, secondary schools, unions, and neighborhood associations.

Understanding the Term Metro-Urban
The term "metro-urban" refers to a metropolitan area that has a population of at least 50,000 and is multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-racial, and economically diverse. "Metro-Urban Ministry" designates theologically grounded services in both inner-city communities, and also other communities affected by urban transitions, such as mid-city neighborhoods, older suburbs, and to some extent even classic suburbs and developing "edge" cities, especially where they embody the dynamics of urbanization. Metro-Urban ministry is a comprehensive and systematic approach to the problems facing urban America, bringing together the collective energy, resources, and thinking of every entity affecting metro-urban life.
Metro-Urban ministry is, therefore, eclectic in scope, integrating for the particular situations several disciplines, such as land-use planning, urban politics, sociology, economics, and community organization. To be effective, metro-urban ministry requires systematic analysis of the structures that govern individuals and communities, structures that oppress and/or liberate. Such ministry cannot be done apart from a theological stance in conversation with the social science disciplines.
Although not limited to the church and its denominational outreach, the impact of metro-urban ministry can be measured in terms of congregational life and perceived directly or indirectly by the people who worship and live in cities, and who have the capacity to influence the environment through their Christian faith and witness. Thus, metro-urban ministry affirms hope in community. It is faith working in community, valuing persons over structures, both holding communities of faith responsible for those structures, and believing in their ability to change them.

Principles of the Metro-Urban Concept
At NBTS, we are convinced that the acquisition of skills of inquiry and knowledge in the principal areas of empowerment, collaboration, and transformation are essential to the practice of urban ministry. Therefore, these four principles frame the curriculum and provide the basis for the final dissertation/project.
Empowerment - the process of people becoming their own advocates in the struggle to deal with those forces exploiting their community. It helps people to recognize within themselves the talents and abilities that are unique to them and encourages them to develop those gifts in relationship to others.
Collaboration - provides the framework of a cooperative venture based on shared power and authority. It is not hierarchical in nature. It assumes power based on knowledge or expertise as opposed to power based on role and function. Transformation- occurs when members of the entire community change their view of themselves. This third principle occurs because of people coming to a new understanding of themselves as individuals in community as people of God. In other words, transformation occurs when people begin taking charge of their situation.
Public Theology - a form (genre) of theology which seeks a "public" relevance of Christian faith. It continues the apologetical task of Christianity today. It engages in dialogue with various academic disciplines, social-cultural movements, and cultural traditions and religions in search of mutual understanding and the common ground of human existence and social arrangement. Christianity can come to a deeper, broader, and richer understanding of the self and others. As a curricular principle, it is interdependent/interdisciplinary, dynamic and contextual. As ministry, it has a particular bias for justice and morality. Central to this idea of public theology is the claim that seminaries might play a critical role in preparing public leaders/theologians who are conversant with the moral discourse of public life. These are persons (whether clergy or lay) who not only think theologically, but who 'act publicly' for the sake of the public.

Curriculum Framework

The curriculum consists of two years of regular course work that culminates in the preparation of a dissertation/project in the candidate’s third and final year. Although not fully engaged until the final year of the program, the final dissertation/project provides focus throughout the entire program.

Year One 
Fall Trimester 
Reframing Education for Urban Ministry: 3 cr.
Urban Policy Principles: 3 cr.
Winter Trimester 
The City in Church History: 3 cr.
Community Development and Investment:3 cr.
Spring Trimester
The Public Practice of Theology: 3 cr.
Missional Leadership in City Congregations: 3 cr.
Year Two 
Fall Trimester 
Hermeneutics of the City: 3 cr.
Research Writing Methods: 3 cr.
Winter Trimester 
Seminar on Proposal Development: 3 cr.
Covenant Theology and the City: 3 cr.
Spring Trimester 
Mapping Your Neighborhood: 3 cr.
Faith-Based Public Policy: 21st Century: 3 cr.
Year Three 
Final Dissertation/Project: 12 cr.

Questions concerning the program may be directed to:
Joan Marshall (
Faye Taylor (

New Brunswick, NJ campus * 35 Seminary Place * New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Queens, NY campus * 8000 Utopia Parkway * Queens, NY 11439
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