By the Rev. Joe Hart
How are we equipping those who are in training to face the changes and challenges within ministry for the future?
A group at GBMC (Greater Baltimore Medical Center) sought to answer this question. The curriculum of various seminaries offered the academic training and requirements for ordination seem to have a solid foothold for seminary students. The great work of community clinical pastoral education (CPE) programs was well known and available for both candidates for the priesthood and the diaconate.
So how could those in the community for whom CPE was not an option due to prerequisites or other professional challenges find a dynamic, clinically challenging educational program to fill in the gap between life experience and graduate level CPE?
Sr. Mary Donohue, SND, CPE supervisor and the Rev. Caroline R. Stewart, clinical instructor joined the Rev. J. Joseph Hart to create the GBMC Center for Spiritual Support Training. This clinical immersion program has been offered to the broader community for almost 10 years. During that time, students have come from a variety of faith traditions as well as vocations, both lay and ordained.
Last year the Diocese of Maryland approached the center to see if might serve as an alternative to CPE for candidates to the diaconate. Classes were expanded from 1 to 3 (10 weeks to 30) and included a broader range of topics. With the approval of Bishop Sutton we welcomed 5 students in the fall of 2014 who graduated last spring. (included with this article is the graduation picture). We are now welcoming additional students in their journey toward ordination. For more information on the program contact the Rev. Joe Hart firstname.lastname@example.org