Seminary Launches Doctor of Ministry in Urban Ministry Leadership

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah
North Park's Dr. Soong-Chan Rah has developed this innovative doctor of ministry program alongside Fuller Theological Seminary.

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah to lead program

CHICAGO (October 25, 2013) — North Park Theological Seminary, in partnership with Fuller Theological Seminary, is launching a new doctor of ministry in urban ministry leadership this academic year. The doctoral degree program is designed for ministerial leaders to develop the theological foundation and practical skills for effective urban leadership.

The program’s cohort model allows students to learn and build relationships with peers also committed to urban ministry. Applications for the program are being taken now, and the first cohort will begin coursework in April, blending online learning throughout the year with face-to-face intensive courses. Students will meet annually in June in three different cities—Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta—for one week. This combination of online and in-person courses allows students to continue serving while they study, and immediately apply what they are learning in their ministry setting.

After completing three cohort years, students work with faculty on an independent study project, then begin a two-to-three-year doctoral project that focuses on individual ministry interests. The doctoral project will culminate in a paper that represents individual learning, theological reflection, and response to a significant issue in ministry.

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, the Seminary’s Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, was approached by Dr. Kurt Fredrickson, associate dean for the doctor of ministry program at Fuller, about developing a joint program. Rah and Frederickson, both ordained ministers in the Evangelical Covenant Church, share a belief that urban ministry is of growing importance to the University’s sponsoring denomination.

“Our denomination has seen significant growth in urban areas,” said Rah. “This degree is a great opportunity to connect with the work that God is already doing within the denomination. This may be a unique calling that God has given to us as a Seminary and University.”

Dr. David Kersten, dean of the Seminary, believes the degree program is a significant asset to the Seminary. "Dr. Rah is one of the leading urban, multicultural scholars and missiologists of our day,” Kersten said. “We are thrilled to offer this important and practical resource to pastors and practitioners around the country."

While the Seminary already offered a certificate in urban ministry, Rah sees the doctoral degree as an opportunity for students to delve deeper into integrating theological preparation and ministry practice, enabling them to more effectively serve urban congregations. “This is for seasoned pastors,” Rah said of the degree, “and folks willing to get a renewed sense of calling for ministry in an urban context. They may be saying, ‘I want to go deeper into what I’ve already experienced, so that I can continue in ministry.’”

Rah finds the program to be ideal for pastors who have made a long-term commitment to active engagement with urban ministry. “This is not necessarily so that you can find a new job, but to go deeper into the job you already have,” he said. “It will strengthen the work you’re already doing.”

The doctoral degree enables students to identify the skills necessary for practicing sociocultural analysis, said Rah, expanding their understanding of the relationship between the church and the urban environment. “After being in ministry for a little while, you start to ask good questions that you don’t have easy answers to,” Rah said. “The questions you’re asking are deep, important questions. This program will examine real-life scenarios that people encounter in ministry, allowing for theological engagement of practical ministry.”

Rah brings extensive experience and scholarship in urban and multicultural ministry as director of the new program. A nationally recognized author, speaker, church planter, and professor, Rah was the founding senior pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, Cambridge, Mass., a multi-ethnic church committed to ministry in the urban context. He served on a church-planting team in the Washington, D.C., area, and worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. Learn more about North Park University.