Perkins School of Theology - Special Programs For Academic Credit
The basic graduate theological studies required for those seeking ordination as deacons in the United Methodist Church include courses in the areas of Old Testament, New Testament, church history, theology, mission, worship, evangelism and United Methodist history, doctrine and polity. These courses are offered regularly on the Dallas campus and in the Houston/Galveston program.
The following courses satisfy these requirements:
or XS 8350
United Methodist History
United Methodist Polity
United Methodist Doctrine
The Mexican American Program was founded in 1974 so that Perkins School of Theology could become a center for preparing church leaders with the knowledge and skills for effective ministry in Spanish-speaking contexts and cultures. From its beginning, the Mexican American Program has had a commitment to the ongoing work of recruiting, preparing and providing continuing education of people for ministry with Latinos. It continues to enable Perkins School of Theology to be a center of Hispanic theological thought and writing and to advocate before the general church with and in behalf of Hispanic congregations and ministries.
Some of its academic program areas include oversight of the Certificate in Hispanic Studies and support of L@s Seminaristas, a student organization for Perkins students focused on ministry with Hispanics.
Hispanic Summer Program
In collaboration with several other seminaries, Perkins sponsors the Hispanic Summer Program, which takes place for two weeks each summer at a different site in the United States or Puerto Rico. Hispanic students, as well as others who are bilingual and who are interested in Hispanic ministries, may attend this academic program and take a maximum of one course for three credits.
Courses in the Hispanic Summer Program cover a wide range of the theological curriculum and are always taught with the Latino church in mind. The program provides students with the opportunity to study and reflect with other seminarians who are from across the nation and Puerto Rico and who are preparing to do ministry in the Hispanic context. Perkins students who are accepted into the program pay a reduced registration fee.
Students with sufficient Spanish language skills may be able to do a term of studies in Costa Rica or an internship in Mexico or Central America. Immersion experiences in Mexico, Central America and South America are also periodically offered through the Global Theological Education program.
Perkins does not offer instruction in Spanish for credit. Students are encouraged
to seek instructional programs in Dallas and/or attend a Spanish-language school
in Cuernavaca, Mexico, or elsewhere. The director of the Mexican American
Program maintains information on these opportunities and will assist students in
making appropriate plans to gain the necessary competence.
The Global Theological Education program at Perkins has two purposes. Through cultural immersion courses, the GTE program offers students a study of theology, Scripture, missions, ministry or inter-religious relationships in a cultural context different from the students’ own, usually outside the United States. These courses give special attention to the role of theological reflection in an environment affected by globalization in all its dimensions through a focused, on-site study in a particular cultural environment and region of the world.
The GTE program is also tasked with facilitating missiological reflection among laypersons engaged in cross-cultural missions and ministry. Working through Annual Conference leadership of Volunteers in Mission/Partners in Mission programs, the GTE program provides resources and organizes training events as they focus on the theological and spiritual meaning of Christian mission by laypersons.
The landscape of spiritual life in America is undergoing rapid transformation. The multifaceted character of the Christian tradition is becoming apparent. It is clearly far more appropriate to talk about Christian spiritualities than it is to talk about Christian spirituality. Alongside the recovery of ancient traditions that marked
the development of the church in the West, there is an ever greater awareness of
and interest in the spiritual traditions of individual Christian communities that lie
outside that broad tradition. Each community has been shaped by differences in
theological vision, race, gender, ethnicity and history, and their involvement in the
conversation has helped to underline the extent to which all four factors have helped
to make the Christian spiritual tradition what it is today.
As the larger global community becomes a reality, the church also finds itself
in a conversation with other religions. Inevitably, many of these conversations focus
on the differences in spiritual practice, but the similarities are of great interest as well.
Conversations between East and West are the leading edge of a global conversation
that has only just begun, and they will assume greater complexity as time passes.
In addition, an ever more complex array of personal spiritual practice is taking
shape. Highly eclectic in character and shaped by radically different goals, these
practices defy easy characterization. In fact, an increasing number of people distinguish
between spirituality and religion, and, to some extent, spirituality and
theology. In making these distinctions, spirituality is often construed as something
both universal and positive while religion and theology are characterized as the
creatures of organizational life.
It is in this context that today’s students of theology are called upon to shape their own spiritual practice and to guide others in the effort to do the same. They do so drawing on long-held and profound convictions that mark Christian spirituality
in all its forms. These convictions are:
- That Christian spiritual formation is centrally about an encounter with God
- That spiritual formation is essential to the life of the baptized.
That formation is an inherently transformative experience.
- That a distinctively Christian spirituality is informed by life in community.
- That spirituality, rightly understood, issues in engagement with the world and
- That spirituality and theology inform and strengthen one another.
The program in Spiritual Life and Formation at Perkins School of Theology is also
based on the conviction that a complete theological education and thorough preparation
for ministry gives attention to identifiable needs and capacities, including:
- Personal spiritual formation.
- Experience and familiarity with the variety of spiritual disciplines.
- The ability to facilitate the spiritual growth of others.
- The theological and critical capacity to evaluate trends in spiritual expression.
- The ability to nurture the same capacity in others.
- Basic familiarity with the complex landscape of spiritual practice.
- An awareness of the diversity of spiritual expression.
- The significance of context for the shape of spirituality, including race, gender and ethnicity.
- The ability to integrate the spiritual, theological and social dimensions of life.
- An awareness of the ongoing dialog with spiritual traditions of other faiths.
Led by facilitators in groups of five to 10, students share in a formative experience
designed to provide them with the framework of a common experience,
- Experience in prayer and devotion.
- Broad-based exposure to a variety of spiritual disciplines.
- Opportunities to explore the central genius of spiritual traditions.
- The development of a critical capacity that will allow the student to evaluate
those traditions theologically.
- The opportunity to explore the vital connection between spiritual formation
and vital ministry.
Other experiences include retreats, service projects and worship. In addition to
the programmatic work at Perkins itself, the Office of Spiritual Life and Formation
also facilitates retreats and workshops.