Founded in 1946 and currently representing over 100 theological schools across America and Canada, the Association of Theological Field Education (ATFE) works closely with the Association of Theological Schools. To retain accreditation with ATS, every seminary or divinity school requires an experiential component that provides a place to practice ministry and corresponding space to reflect on the experience.
This nexus of integration is an intended pathway, carefully nurtured by the field educator. Field educators accompany students on their journey through the compilation of ministry experience, theological reflection, peer engagement, classroom time, personal consultation, and workshops with ministry professionals.
ATFE gathers for a biennial conference, which provides professional development workshops, keynote speakers, excursions, and both formal and informal opportunities for networking and connection. Known as “Biennial Consultations,” this event allows members to interact with current issues related to theological field education while also seeking to shape creative visions for the future. At past Consultations, ATFE addresses topics like adult learning theory, cross-cultural competence, emerging ministries, and the shifting landscape of theological education.
Want to know more about ATFE’s history? Here is a fascinating read, especially for new field educators. You’ll see the cliché is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same!
Dear ATFE Colleagues,
Many of us have said over the years that it’s the generosity and resourcefulness of ATFE colleagues that keeps us in this organization. We have replaced any spirit of competition sometimes found in other guilds with a spirit of cooperation. Here’s an example from my own work this spring:
My institution announced a decision to make its entire curriculum available for remote learning through May of 2022. Consequently, some students chose to stay home rather than come to campus next year. Of course, they still wanted to take field education as scheduled! That meant finding good sites and supervisors for them in cities I did not know. So I reached out to my ATFE colleagues. From Atlanta, Boston, and New York, they wrote back immediately with offers to let me “borrow” their sites, adding helpful descriptions and suggestions and ideas. What I thought would be a daunting task has become quite fun.
I know that I’m not alone in experiencing this sort of ATFE cooperation during the pandemic. As one of you reminded me: “We’re all ultimately on the same team, Barbara!”
Thank you, team!
Barbara Blodgett, Chair