It was 1978. Jimmy Carter was the president of the United States of America. Harvard University introduced a new curriculum under their president Derek Bok. “The Greatest,” 36-year-old Muhammad Ali beat a younger Leon Spinks to become the heavyweight boxing champ of the world for the third time. We were glued to the television to watch the wealthy J. R. in the hit series, Dallas. We gasped at the power of a cult leader when 900 souls committed suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bakke vs. University of California Medical School at Davis, that fixed racial quotas are unconstitutional. Against this backdrop, I sat across from my pastor, the Rev. William McKinley Freeman and declared my reluctant willingness to accept God’s call to the ministry.
After an intense question and answer period, Rev. Freeman informed me that if God called me to the ministry, then I must go to seminary. Period. It was in seminary that God revealed to me “to study to show yourself approved,” one must combine the rigors of academic study with the wisdom of practical theology. We call that process Field Education or in some circles, Field Education.
We release new electronic devices almost everyday. We have made new discoveries in medicine, archeology and the sciences. However, Field Education is not new. It is as old as the Bible. Jethro supervised his son-in-law Moses. Jesus explained to his disciples why a certain demon was too strong for his new seminarians to cast out. We place a high value on Field Education at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Field Education is the process that unites compassionate, seasoned clergy with seminarians in search of practical insights and Godly wisdom. It is where seminarians leave the comforts of the seminary classroom and take their theology to the streets.
It is my prayer that you find your Field Education experience to be loving and supportive. Such was the case of my first year in Field Education at The First Baptist Church of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. The pastor and lay committee allowed me to make mistakes and to grow at my own pace. The skilled supervisor along with his congregation taught me how to be a clergyperson, who embraces visitation as incarnational ministry, exhibits empathy, seeks justice, promotes fairness and preaches prophetically. After my first year of seminary, God called me to be the pastor of the only Black congregation in New Hampshire at that time. God sent me a wonderful supervisor during that two-year period. We met every week after our respective services. At first I thought this was some kind of formula to gain the seal of approval from the supervisor and the seminary. Twenty-five years and three churches later, I realize the Field Education experience prepared me for my calling from God.
Our goal is to be of help to you in your preparation for ministry. We strongly believe that in addition to excellent classroom preparation, being fit for ministry also entails how one integrates one’s newly found knowledge into servant leadership and how one creates a safe environment for the people of God to live in a world of daily challenges.
Joy comes when we understand that it is not about us; instead, it is about faithfully serving God and the people of God. Field Education is one vehicle to help you come to that realization.
Blessings, joy and peace,
732-247-5241 ext. 158
Director of Field Education
Please click on one of the following links to learn more
about the Field Education Program:
Field Education Handbook
Field Education Forms