About - The Association for Theological Field Education | ATFE
ATFE was founded in 1946. Currently it represents over 100 theological schools across the United States and Canada. ATFE enjoys affiliate status with the Association for Theological Schools (ATS). Every accredited ATS seminary or divinity school requires an experiential component that provides a place to practice ministry and a corresponding space to reflect on its practice. This nexus of integration is an intended consequence carefully nurtured by the field educator. Ministry experience, theological reflection, peer engagement, the classroom, consultation, and emulation of ministry professionals are some of the important tools available to us.
Every two years we gather for a conference which provides professional development workshops, keynote speakers, excursions, and both formal and informal opportunities for field educators to connect with one another. We call these conferences our Biennial Consultations. During the consultations, we engage current issues related to theological field education while also seeking to shape creative visions for field education in the future. For example, we have engaged adult learning theory, cross-cultural competence, emerging ministries, and the shifting landscape of theological education. We seek to develop new patterns for preparing future ministers for the changing contours of ministry, and to discover imaginative ways to prepare them to serve God effectively and faithfully in the church and in the world.
I enjoyed seeing new and familiar faces at our Friday gatherings this Spring. I have been impressed all over again by the individual and collective resilience and creativity of field educators! You all have found ways to respond to the immediate, technical changes brought on by the COVID pandemic and have even begun reflecting on long-term, adaptive changes to ministries of field education and beyond. You also find faithful and creative ways to teach justice when faced with pandemics of systemic injustice. I can honestly say that you have been a source of inspiration for me during this time. Thank you.
The Steering Committee has decided that it is necessary to postpone the ATFE Consultation planned for Tampa in January 2021, due to the COVID-19 epidemic and its effects on travel and on institutional budgets. At this time, we have retained our deposit with the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa for a January 2022 gathering; however, we will continue to heed recommendations about large gatherings and will finalize a date when it is appropriate to do so. We considered hosting the January 2021 consultation via videoconference but decided against that option.
In the meantime, we will keep offering continuing education webinars and we will plan a brief virtual gathering for January 2021, along with a way for the membership to vote on a slate of nominations for a Steering Committee that would carry ATFE through the next consultation (see separate article).
ATFE Steering Committee Chair Barbara Blodgett (email@example.com), on behalf of your 2019-2021 Steering Committee:
Tom Elliott (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dipa Hart (email@example.com)
Tracy Hartman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dan Poole (email@example.com)
John Senior (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jenny Whitcher (email@example.com.)
Nick Works (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Barbara Blodgett, Chair
Rev. Dr. Barbara Blodgett is Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Assessment at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is a minister, educator, and ethicist. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, she has served in parish ministry as well as the national setting of the UCC. She received an MDiv from Yale Divinity School and a PhD from the Department of Religious Studies (Ethics) at Yale University. Her areas of research include pedagogy, pastoral and professional formation, and ministry ethics. She previously served as Donald and Lillian Nunnelly Assistant Professor of Pastoral Leadership at Lexington Theological Seminary, and as Director of Supervised Ministries at Yale Divinity School from 1998-2009. She has published three books– Constructing the Erotic: Sexual Ethics and Adolescent Girls, Lives Entrusted: An Ethic of Trust for Ministry, and Becoming the Pastor You Hope to Be: Four Practices for Improving Ministry—and co-edited one with Matt Floding—Brimming With God: Reflecting Theologically on Cases in Ministry.
Contact Barbara at: Chair@atfe.org
Dipa H. Hart, Vice Chair
Dipa H. Hart is Director of Internships, and Adjunct Professor in Educational Ministries and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary. Since 2005, she has engaged students during their field education experiences. She has also served as a hospital chaplain, DTS’s SF Women’s Director, treasurer of Association of Women Ministry Professions (AWMP), co-chaired the Evangelical Association of Theological Field Educators (ATFE) and remains active AWMP. In addition to her role at the seminary, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Organizational Leadership. Her academic interests include ecclesial leadership studies, Christian spirituality, and intercultural engagement. She and her husband have one son.
Contact Dipa at: ViceChair@atfe.org
Dan Poole, Secretary
Rev. Dan Poole is Assistant Professor of Ministry Formation at Bethany Theological Seminary. He was born in Indiana and grew up attending the Wabash Church of the Brethren. After serving for 18 years in congregational ministry, first at the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren as Associate Pastor and then at the Covington Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio for 13 of those years, he was called to serve at Bethany. Poole has been the Coordinator for Ministry Formation since August of 2007 through 2017, and served a one-year appointment as the Visiting Instructor for Ministry Formation in 2017-18, until he was called to his current position. Dan received his DMin from Columbia Theological Seminary and holds an MDiv from Bethany Theological Seminary. Dan and his spouse Kelli have one adult son, Kevin.
Contact Dan at: Secretary@atfe.org
John Senior, Treasurer
John directs the School of Divinity’s Art of Ministry program, which includes its field education curriculum. His research and teaching focus on pastoral formation for ministry, field-based learning, ministry leadership in both ecclesial and public settings, and the role of theological education in preparing leaders for a wide variety of institutional contexts. Trained in Christian ethics and the sociology of religion, Senior is also interested in political theology and ethics and earth-centered approaches to ministry and the moral life. He is currently working on a book project on structural evil. Senior is an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Contact John at: Treasurer@atfe.org
Jenny Whitcher, Proposals Coordinator
Rev. Dr. Jenny Whitcher is the founder of Juniper Formation, an ecumenical nonprofit ministry that collaborates with denominational leaders, clergy, and local churches to prophetically reimagine the Church; develop prophetic ministers; and maintain and renovate closing and closed church properties as sacred and public spaces engaged with the community through missional ministries of justice, healing, and formation work. She previously served as the faculty Director of the Office of Professional Formation and Term Assistant Professor of Religion & Public Life at Iliff School of Theology. Whitcher is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Denver & Iliff School of Theology, her M.A. from the University of Denver, and B.A. from New York University. Full bio.
Contact Jenny at: email@example.com
Thomas W. Elliott, Jr., Member At-Large
Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Elliott, Jr., is Associate Professor in the Practice of Practical Theology and Methodist Studies, and Director of Contextual Education II, Teaching Parish Program, and Internships at Emory’s Candler School of Theology. An elder in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, Elliott served as the pastor of rural, town and suburban churches for 26 years prior to joining the Candler faculty in 2013. Ties to local churches, campus ministries, and non-profits in the Atlanta area and beyond are beneficial as he assists students in their second year contextual education placements in ecclesial settings, directs the Teaching Parish program, and structures internship opportunities. Elliott frequently serves as guest preacher in churches and worships at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on Emory’s campus. Elliott serves on the board of directors for the Salem Campground, one of the oldest existing camp meetings in the nation, and is also on the board of directors of the United Methodist Children’s Home and Project Transformation North Georgia.
Contact Thomas at: AtLarge1@atfe.org
Nick Works, Member At-Large
Rev. Nick Works is Assistant Director of Practice in Ministry and Ministry at Wesley Theological Seminary
Contact Nick at: AtLarge2@atfe.org
Tracy Hartman, Chair Emeritus, ex officio
Tracy is the former Daniel O. Aleshire Professor of Practical Theology at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond where she taught preaching and directed the seminary’s field education and Doctor of Ministry Programs for eighteen years. She teaches preaching and directs the seminary’s Supervised Ministry and Doctor of Ministry programs. She is the author of Letting the Other Speak: Proclaiming the Stories of Biblical Women and co-author of New Proclamation Commentary. She also contributed to the Feasting on the Word and Feasting on the Gospels commentary series. Her forthcoming book will help congregations think theologically about risk and change. Dr. Hartman served as preacher and preaching instructor for the First Annual Pastor’s Conference and as preacher and lecturer for the First Annual Lay Women’s Conference at Baptist Theological Seminary at Zimbabwe. She is active in Baptist life and has served as staff member and interim pastor to several Virginia churches. She enjoys preaching throughout the region. Professor Hartman was a member of the first class of M. Div. students at BTSR and won the Miller Award for Academic Achievement upon her graduation in 1995. Her Ph.D. work at Union Theological Seminary included ground-breaking research into the relationship between parish setting and preaching style for women pastors.
Contact Tracy at: ChairEmeritus@atfe.org
Want to know more about ATFE’s history? This document, History of ATFE.pdf prepared in the early 90s, is a fascinating read, especially if you are a current field educator. You’ll see that as the truism goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same!
ATFE Organizational Documents
ATFE is an international organization with over 100 members, but we have no full-time staff nor office. We are incorporated in the State of Washington. You can read our Bylaws here.
ATFE Professional Conduct Committee
The Association for Theological Field Education is an international, ecumenical community whose purposes include maximizing the quality of service to theological field education and providing for optimal growth and development of field education personnel. In pursuit of these purposes members of the Association have particular professional commitments and responsibilities toward one another. In addition, we are a community that has always been marked by “an extraordinary degree of collaboration and a spirit of generosity,” in the words of one past Chair of ATFE.
Therefore, in 2019, ATFE members voted at their Biennial Consultation to adopt ATFE Standards of Professional Conduct, a policy that would formalize how we conduct ourselves as members of the Association and to create a process for any grievances regarding conduct. The following members were appointed to serve on a Professional Conduct Committee: Kathleen Castillo of Christ the King Seminary, Youtha Hardman-Cromwell, retired from Wesley Theological Seminary, Marcus Hong of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, and Danielle Tumminio Hansen of Seminary of the Southwest. ATFE members may contact any of these persons with a concern.
This policy was not created in response to any incident or history of misconduct. Rather, it grew out of the desire to maintain ATFE’s longstanding culture of respect and the remarkable generosity that our members have always shown one another as we engage in mutual professional development.
Here is the 2019-2020 budget for ATFE operations, excluding the biennial consultation:
Reflective Practice: $3,200
Membership Recruitment: $0
Research and Publications: $4,000
Steering Committee: $8,000