The Masters of Arts in Public and Pastoral Leadership recognizes the kinds of leaders that are needed for the changing nature of Christian communities and supports persons engaged in various forms of leadership, such as social entrepreneurship, faith-based social services, NGOs, community-based development, mediation services and community-based justice initiatives. The MA PPL seeks to live out of a theological vision where love is linked to a passion for justice, in which the agenda of theology is that of the hurts and hopes of the world. This means that we place ourselves at the service of the world, offering to the world religious reflection and/or faith-based practices (such as non-violence, love of the neighbor, sacrificial livelihood, simplicity, forgiveness). The vocation to love God in the world is a wide work that does not discriminate between pastoral and public spheres. We recognize the longing for truth, identity, purpose and belonging at the heart of human life and community as religious work—work at the depth of the human soul.
For this degree, attention will be placed in the core curriculum on action-reflection models of learning and contextual analysis. The theological intellect is honed towards the skills needed for public theologians and leaders — with special attention to the religious literacy needed to take one’s place as a leader in a multi-religious (including secular) context; to the visionary capacities of organizers and ecclesial change agents; to ritual, spiritual, rhetorical and communitarian skills needed for engaging the public sphere and individual citizens. Courses attend to spiritual practice as the practice of everyday life, as a street-based attention to faithfulness and therefore disciplined attention to developing a life that makes a difference in the world.
Suitability for Particular Vocations and Occupations
- • An MA-PPL prepares people for offering theologically informed leadership in community organizations and institutions such as NGOs, non-profits, para-church initiatives, and community-based development organizations. This is especially the case when a student includes in their program courses from VST’s offerings in Indigenous and Inter-Religious Studies.
- • In the face of shifts in ministerial preparation in the churches, an MA-PPL, with a credit load of half of the MDiv, may be more achievable preparation for a variety of types of ministry leadership. An MA-PPL may meet denominational competencies for a variety of ordered ministries in some denominations, in some cases with the addition of denominational courses.
- • The degree is preparation for various forms of ministries and emerging models of Christian community, for example, as worker-priests and leaders of community-based ministries.
- • An MA is recognized as preparation for graduate work should a person at some point decide to move to advanced study.
Degree Design & Requirements
The MA-PPL is a 48 credit hour degree, 39 credit hours in required courses or designated advanced courses, and 9 credit hours in open electives.
Public and Pastoral Leadership will be anchored in 5 courses (15 credit hours) and 3 units of theological field education:
- a) PT500: Spiritual and Theological Foundations for Public and Pastoral Leadership (3 credits);
- b) PT551: Pastoral Identity and Practice (3);
- c) PT651/652: Public and Pastoral Leadership Studio I & II (6)
- d) PT610: Public & Pastoral Leadership: Integration and Formation (3)
- e) 3 Units of Theological Field Education:
- a. TFE1: Exploration (taken in preparation for the Studio course)
- b. TFE2a: Studio Part 1 (taken alongside PT651)
- c. TFE2b: Studio Part 2 (taken alongside PT652)
Classical Core: Students will take 4 courses (12 credit hours), one course each from the 4 primary theological disciplines:
- a) Hebrew Bible Introduction (HB500, 3 credits)
- b) New Testament (either NT500 Synoptics or NT501 Paul, 3 credits)
- c) Constructive Theology I (TH500, 3 credits)
- d) History (either HIS500 Christianity and Judaism in Greco-Roman Antiquity or HIS600 Canadian History, 3 credits)
Advanced Courses: Students will be required to take 4 courses (12 credit hours) in courses that pose critical religious reflection in relation to context, which includes environmental and economic awareness, Jewish-Christian and multi-religious dialog; multicultural inclusivity and intercultural solidarity; gender studies; anti-colonialism and aboriginal theologies, such as courses related to:
- a) Eco-theology
- b) Place, Land and Indigenous Wisdom
- c) Social Christianity
- d) Gender and Religious Literature
- e) Social Justice: Prophet and Reformer
- f) Education and Pastoral Leadership in Intercultural Contexts
- g) Rhetoric in the Public Square
- h) De/Colonizing Jesus
- i) Sacred Texts in a Multi-Religious Society
Open Electives: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
The final requirement for graduation in the MA-PPL will be one of the following: 1) a capstone project involving practical applicability of leadership skills to the public or pastoral sphere or 2) an integrative paper of 3500 – 5000 words which will be examined in conversation with appointed members of the faculty or 3) through petition to the Research Studies Committee, a thesis in the field. The final requirement is normally done in the student’s final year or semester of study.