2019 ATFE Consultation


January 30th – February 2nd, 2019, in Asheville, North Carolina

This biennium will focus on the changing nature of the Church and of theological education, and what these changes mean for Field Education.

For additional details, a full schedule, and biographies of plenary speakers and preachers, please see the ATFE NEWS AND UPDATES Fall 2018.

Location: Crowne Plaza Resort in Asheville, North Carolina. With rooms at $119.00 per night, this setting offers us great amenities in a retreat-like atmosphere at an affordable price. Click here to make hotel reservations.

Schedule:  Consultation schedule with breakout sessions, immersions, and site visits.

Registration: Registration is closed

Registration Fee: Registration fee includes all conference materials, the opening receptions, two lunches, refreshments, and the closing banquet. ATFE member schools bringing three or more members to the meeting will receive a 20% discount, which will be refunded after the meeting upon confirmation of attendance.

$275 early bird registration fee by October 31, 2018
$299 regular registration fee November 1 – 30, 2018
$350 late registration fee December 1, 2018 and after

ATFE Dues: $150 Institutional Membership (U.S.), $130 Institutional Membership for Canadian and other non-U.S. Members, and $110 Individual Membership. You may pay your dues when you register for the biennial meeting.

Guest Speaker: Rev. Dr. Frank M. Yamada, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools.

2021 ATE Biennium Host Proposals: The ATFE Steering Committee would like to include proposals for the 2021 meeting in the conference packet. If your school or consortium of schools is interested in hosting the 2021 Biennium, please send your proposal to ATFE Steering Committee Chair Tracy Hartman at thartman@btsr.edu, but December 15th, 2018. If you have questions about hosting, please email or call Tracy at 804-204-1214.

Breakout Sessions, Immersions, and Site Visits


Thursday, 1:45 p.m.


Conversation with Frank Yamada, Executive Director of The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), Barbara Blodgett, Donald and Lillian Nunnelly Assistant Professor in Pastoral Leadership at Lexington Theological Seminary, and Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi, Term Assistant Professor of Leadership and Formation and Director of the Officer of Professional Formation at Iliff School of Theology, about the upcoming redevelopment of the ATS accreditation standards.

Field Education and Clergy Burnout: Fostering Differentiation and Resiliency

Dan Gildner, Dean of the Chapel and Assistant Professor in the Practice of Pastoral Formation, United Theological Seminary

Many clergy experience burnout within five years of graduation from Seminary. This session will explore causes of burnout, some possible solutions to the crisis of clergy burnout, and begin the conversation about implementing strategies in theological field education to help combat this trend. Although this breakout is a seminar there will be ample opportunities for conversation.

Contextual Education in Correctional Settings: Navigating Challenges and Opportunities

Letitia M. Campbell, Director of Contextual Education I and CPE, and Assistant Professor in the Practice of Ethics and Society, Candler School of Theology
Elizabeth M. Bounds, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, and Co-Founder, Certificate in Theological Studies Program, Lee Arrendale State Prison for Women

Contextual and field education programs that offer students the chance to engage in ministry inside of prisons can be transformative for students, faculty, and institutions. Developing such initiatives presents both challenges and opportunities, however. This session will explore some practical, pedagogical, and theological challenges involved in offering field and contextual education opportunities in correctional settings, with particular attention to partnering with correctional institutions; navigating differences of institutional culture; preparing students and faculty for engaging in such settings; and building bridges to the wider seminary curriculum. In this session, participants will have a chance to hear from a panel of Candler School of Theology faculty and administrators, and correctional chaplain partners, who will reflect on their experience developing, leading, and participating in Candler’s work in prison settings since the 1980s. Through presentation and interactive discussion, this session will provide participants with concrete resources for developing and sustaining programs in their own settings.


Thursday, 3:15 p.m.


Shifting Field Education to the Margins: Preparing “Field Hospitals” for Ministry

Christina Zaker, Director of Field Education, Catholic Theological Union

Pope Francis has called for Catholic ministers to see themselves as a “field hospital” standing in solidarity with those at the margins. This focus and its roots in Catholic Social Teaching should impact the critical role field education plays in preparing students for ministry. This workshop will explore how a commitment to building relationships with communities at the margins of society should be a cornerstone of field education. The formation of lay and ordained students pivots on their ability to learn from and be challenged by the communities within which they work. Field education with a focus on Catholic Social Teaching plays a critical role here. This workshop will be specifically focused on Roman Catholic Lay and Ordained approaches to shifting the landscape of field education to the margins, but all ATFE members and their wisdom for this seminar style conversation are welcome.

Linking Scaffolded Formation through an articulated progressive framework with Field Education outcomes

Christine Sorensen, Dean of Formation, United Theological College

Formation is notoriously hard to define, yet subjectively those involved are often unanimous in agreement on individual student outcomes achieved. In our Southern Hemisphere setting 5 areas of formation linked to theological, contextual, and developmental outcomes have been developed into a 3 stage formation framework. At the first stage of the framework a student is able to place themselves within a cultural and theological stream and identify how they have been shaped; they then move to consolidate the content and skills of the programme; at the final stage is readiness to nurture, teach, lead and minister to others in contextually appropriate ways. Articulating a framework of proximate outcomes for formation through the degree program scaffolds students’ ability to construct goals for their own learning, helpfully scales field education assessment, and clarifies elements of annual reviews to identify progress and future growth challenges.  

Bringing Mentoring Online

Brady Bryce, Director of Contextual Education and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Abilene Christian University

The rapid advance of Online Education increases the need for intentional mentoring of ministry students. Online learning settings allow student ministers to remain in ministry contexts, yet occasionally online students merely explore a call to ministry in isolation from actual ministry contexts.  Schools interested in mentoring diverse online students must wrestle with issues of scale, denominational difference, approach to mentoring, and preparation of mentors. This session will explore one theological school’s new approach to online mentoring.


Friday, 10:45 a.m.

Identifying Expectations for Ministers

Brady Bryce, Director of Contextual Education and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Abilene Christian University

Protestant, free church traditions traditions tend to pride themselves on things like the priesthood of all believers, freedom from church hierarchy, and an independent approaches to worship. So, what might this group identify as expected norms for the ministers who serve them? This session reveals the results of a nationwide-grounded research study on expectations of what ministers should know, believe, do and represent. Results identify and compare what 500 seminary professors, ministers, appointed church leaders, and members primarily from one American denomination identified as expectations for ministers. The implications will likely resonate with and inform the understanding of obstacles in contemporary ministry preparation.

Mentoring: The Power of Formational Stories

Matthew Floding, Director of Ministerial Formation, Duke Divinity School
Sung Hee Chang, Director of Supervised Ministry & Vocational Planning in Charlotte and Associate Professor of Supervised Ministry, Union Presbyterian Seminary
John Senior, Director of the Art of Ministry, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Religious Leadership, and Director of the Collaborative for Religious Leadership, Wake Forest University School of Divinity
Faye Taylor, Director of Field Education, New Brunswick Theological Seminary

If a student asks the right question, she or he will heart a story of God at work forming a pastor through an experience of ministry on which to reflect more deeply. He or she can reflect on their own story of ministry formation in stories of effectiveness, or not-being-so effective, of joy, of panic, of confusion, of wonder with their supervisor-mentor. And return to ministry with a degree of formation and pastoral imagination. The Auburn Seminary Learning Pastoral Imagination project provides clues as to which stories to tell. We can alert our supervisor-mentors to the dynamics of Pastoral Imagination and equip them to judiciously use their stories to foster student formation. We can equip them to recognize the formational moments in a student’s experience and to theologically reflect on these with them to further their growth in ministerial competence, nurture pastoral imagination and even encourage habits in resiliency in ministry.  

Prophetically Reimagining the Church: Formation for Entrepreneurial Ministry

Jenny Whitcher, Founder, Juniper Formation

Those preparing for ministry are increasingly called to entrepreneurial ministries that tear down the walls between church and community, prioritize missional and justice ministries over traditional worship, and imagine chaplaincy beyond institutional contexts. While many churches and seminaries may be in decline, God is still speaking and calling people to new forms of ministry. Are we being called to incubate this reformation moment? How will we respond? This seminar will present and engage participants in dialogue around: seminary and denominational barriers experienced by those called to entrepreneurial ministry, ways we can better support entrepreneurial ministry formation, and resources offered by Juniper Formation (www.JuniperFormation.org) as we prophetically reimagine the Church together.


Friday, 1:45 – 6:00 pm

Immersions, Site Visits, and Networking


Saturday, 8:30 a.m.


Conversation with Frank Yamada, Barbara Blodgett and Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi about the upcoming redevelopment of the ATS accreditation standards (repeated from Thursday at 1:45 p.m.)

I Have a Great Book Idea, How do I Get Published?

Rolfe Janke, Executive Editor, Religion and Sociology, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Learn the ins and outs of publishing in today’s highly competitive market.

Contextual Education as Theological Action Research

Daniel Rhodes, Coordinator of Contextual Education, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Chicago

This session will engage theological action research (TAR) as a promising and emerging model for ministry education during this time of significant shifts in the profession. As an orientation toward inquiry that is community-based, collaborative, and aimed to generate practical knowledge, TAR is interdisciplinary and seeks to bring theological tradition into dialogue with indigenous knowledges for the purpose of fostering rich collective discernment and action that promotes the flourishing of our communities. A description of the implementation of this model is also offered.