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Christian Education and Congregational Studies

Admissions Requirements ⁄ Admissions Procedures ⁄ Admissions Application

The PhD in Christian Education and Congregational Studies primarily prepares persons for teaching in theological seminaries and undergraduate church-related colleges as well as denominational leadership in education. Students learnhow Christian faith is formed and embodied in communities of faith through the integration of insights from theology and the social sciences (psychology, education, sociology, anthropology). Two key emphases are (1) the traditions and practices of Christian religious education in congregations and public life that empower persons for faithful living, and (2) formation of youth in church and culture. Our interdisciplinary emphasis equips students to engage several fields in their research projects such as congregational studies, multi-cultural education, human development, qualitative research, history, and theology.

Program Goals:

A. Knowing: To know practices and disciplines of Christian education and formation and to understand how these are affected by differing cultural contexts. This goal includes the following sub-themes:

  1. To know major approaches to faithful teaching and learning,
  2. To understand learning theories - particularly liberative and transformative learning and multiple intelligences theory - and their pedagogical use,
  3. To be aware of theories of human development including psycho-social, socio-cultural and faith development,
  4. To know learning theories and how to use them,
  5. To know the dynamics of congregational analysis,
  6. To know the methods of qualitative, historical, and practical theological research,
  7. To understand the practices and dynamics of university and seminary education,
  8. To explore the dynamics of interfaith religious education.

B. Doing: To conduct research in educational ministry and to prepare for teaching and leadership in a seminary, college, and/or the church.

  1. To integrate practices of biblical and theological study into Christian religious education,
  2. To be able to read, evaluate and engage the culture of a congregation and its community with particular sensitivity to culture, race, class and gender,
  3. To teach a class in Christian education,
  4. To demonstrate abilities to consult with others in educational ministry,
  5. To complete a major research project using qualitative, historical or practical theological research.

C. Being: To become a Christian educator/ practical theologian who seeks to liberate and empower persons to be co-creators of the reign of God in our multi-cultural and multi-faith environment. This goal includes the following:

  1. To be a reflective teacher and leader who can empower others in a congregation or educational institution to be reflective and open to transformation,
  2. To be a Christian disciple who continues to engage in the practices that develop and deepen faith,
  3. To understand oneself as a critical and open participant in the ongoing practices of an academic discipline and theological tradition.

In addition to addressing these goals, students have ample opportunity for developing skills as teachers and scholars through serving as teaching assistants and developing a teaching portfolio. Each student develops a focus for research. Projects of previous graduates have included the following:

• Youth ministry in the African American church,
• Theological and vocational understandings of laity,
• Theological education in Puerto Rico,
• Children and Eucharist,
• Theological development of adolescent girls,
• Spiritual formation in theological education,
• Pastoral leadership in urban African American congregations,
• Ministries with second generation Korean American young adults,
• Narrative and identity formation in the life stories of immigrant women.

Requirements: 40 semester hours

  • 7 semester hours of core courses required for all PhD students
    Biblical and Theological Hermeneutics (3)
    Teaching Seminar (2)
    Research Seminar (2)
  • 18-24 semester hours to support research interests in Christian education and related disciplines. (Students are expected to include in their programs courses in the following areas: congregational studies, teaching and learning, human development, and history and theories of Christian education)
  • 9-12 semester hours in a cognate concentration in the theological curriculum: church history, theology, ethics, biblical studies, pastoral theology, or liturgy (determined with advisor)
  • 2 research tools: one in a language for academic research and another in qualitative research or congregational studies (social science research tools require satisfactory completion of two graduate-level courses). Students may present competence in two languages as long as they also include congregational research in coursework.
  • 4 written qualifying examinations and an oral examination covering the following areas:
    (1) Overview of religious education
    (2) Congregational studies
    (3) Cognate area (church history, ethics, biblical studies, or theology)
    (4) Focused area of research (e.g., transformative teaching and learning, etc.)
  • Dissertation prospectus to be discussed and approved at the time of the oral examination or within three months following the satisfactory completion of oral exam, as negotiated with advisor.
  • Dissertation

Select Courses in this Concentration at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary:

• Youth, Culture, and Church
• Adults and Christian Faith
• Advanced Practicum in Teaching and Learning
• Christian Education in the African American Experience
• Curriculum and Resources in Educational Ministry
• History and Theories of Christian Education
• Faith and Developmental Theories
• Methods in Congregational Research
• Seminar in Practical Theology
• Seminar in Christian Education (offered each year. Topics include theology and education, emancipatory pedagogy, ethnicity and cultural pluralism, education for social change, and theological education)


The present faculty members in Christian religious education have focused their research on the history and theology of education, on congregational studies and qualitative research, on practical theology, on youth ministry, and on adult education. Some professional contributions include the following:

Reginald Blount, Assistant Professor of Youth, Formation, and Culture

Director of Youth Evangelism, Department of Church Growth and Development, African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME); Director of Christian Education, Chicago Annual Conference, AME Church; AME Representative, Ecumenical Youth Ministries Staff Team, National Council of Churches; Advisory Council Member, Institute for Youth Ministry, Princeton Theological Seminary; Pastor, Trinity AME, Waukegan, IL.

Margaret Ann Crain, Professor of Christian Education and Director of Master of Arts and Deacon Studies Programs

Past President of the Religious Education Association; and member of the Curriculum Resources Committee, General Board of Discipleship of United Methodist Church; workshop leader for Christian Educators Fellowship and National Convocation of Deacons.

Jack Seymour, Professor of Religious Education

Editor of Religious Education; Consultant, Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion; member of the International Academy of Practical Theology; Past Chair, Advisory Committee on Faculty Development for the Association of Theological Schools.

Other faculty members at Garrett-Evangelical work with students in this concentration, including senior scholar, Dr. Linda Vogel.

Select Publications by Program Faculty in Christian Education:

Blount, Reginald. "Longing for Identity," Cloud of Witnesses: Belonging to God. Audio Journal, Volume 8, 2005.

Blount, Reginald. "Faith Passage," in Making God Real for a New Generation: Ministry with Millennials by Craig Miller and MaryJane P. Norton. Discipleship Resources, 2003.

Crain, Margaret Ann. The Promise of the United Methodist Deacon in the Twenty-First Century: Partners with the Whole People of God. Monograph published by General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, The United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN 2007.

Crain, Margaret Ann & Seymour, Jack L. Yearning for God: Reflections of Faithful Lives. Upper Room Press, 2003.

Crain, Margaret Ann & Seymour, Jack L. Deacon's Heart: The New United Methodist Diaconate. Abingdon Press, 2001.

Crain, Margaret Ann, Jack L. Seymour & Joseph Crockett, Educating Christians: The Intersection of Meaning, Learning, and Vocation. Abingdon: 2001.

Seymour, Jack L., ed. Mapping Christian Education. Abingdon Press, 1998.

Seymour, Jack L. "Addressing and Embodying Diversity in Theological Education." In ATS Folio: Diversity in Theological Education. Edited by Marsha Foster Boyd and William Myers. Pittsburgh: Association of Theological Schools, 2003.

Seymour, Jack L. "Best Practices in MDiv Curriculum Revision: A Research Report." Theological Education. 43.1 (Summer 2008): 27-38.

Select Recent Book Publications of Program Graduates:

(Graduates identified in bold italics)

Baker, Dori Grinenko. Doing Girlfriend Theology: God-Talk with Young Women. Pilgrim Press, 2005.

Baker, Dori Grinenko & Mercer, Joyce Ann. Lives to Offer: Accompanying Youth on Their Vocational Quests. Pilgrim Press, 2007.

Caldwell, Elizabeth. Making a Home for Faith: Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Your Children. United Church Press, 2000.

Caldwell, Elizabeth. Leaving Home with Faith: Nurturing the Spiritual Life of Our Youth. Pilgrim Press, 2002.

Kang, S. Steve. Unveiling the Socioculturally Constructed Multivoiced Self: Themes of Self Construction and Self Integration in the Narratives of Second-Generation Korean American Young Adults. University Press, 2003.

Conde-Frazier, Elizabeth; Kang, S. Steve; Parrett, Gary. A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation. Baker Academic Books, 2004.

Parker, Evelyn. Trouble Don't Last Always: Emancipatory Hope among African American Adolescents. Pilgrim Press, 2003.

Wimberly, Anne Streaty & Parker, Evelyn. In Search of Wisdom: Faith Formation in the Black Church. Abingdon Press, 2002.

Tribble, Jeffery. Transformative Pastoral Leadership in the Black Church. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan Press, 2005.


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