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.
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
Barbara Blodgett, Chair
Rev. Dr. Barbara Blodgett is Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Assessment, and Field Education at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is an educator, ethicist, and minister ordained in the United Church of Christ. She has served in theological education, denominational leadership, college teaching, and parish ministry. She writes and teaches about pedagogy, ministerial formation, and ministry ethics. She chaired the Research and Publications Committee of ATFE from 2015-17, the Steering Committee as an At-Large member from 2017-19, and has been Chair since 2019.
Contact Barbara at email@example.com
Dipa H. Hart, Vice Chair
Dr. Dipa H. Hart serves as the Director for Ministry Formation and Adjunct Faculty for Educational Ministries and Leadership and Biblical Counseling at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has worked in field education for over 15 years and her background includes hospital chaplaincy, spiritual formation, church planting, and missions. Her passions include ecclesial and organizational leadership studies, Christian spirituality, intercultural engagement, and developing new field education directors. Dr. Hart is a licensed minister, a 1.5 generation Indian-American, and has earned degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Regent University (Ph.D, Organizational Leadership). She has co-chaired an ATFE caucus, the Evangelical Association of Theological Field Educators (EATFE), for several years and has been the ATFE Vice-Chair since 2019.
Contact Dipa at firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com
Thomas W. Elliott, Jr., Secretary
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 Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Zaker, Research and Publications Chair
Christina is the Director of Field Education and teaches spirituality and pastoral ministry at Catholic Theological Union. Her research focus includes theological reflection as it intersects with justice and also family spirituality. She has served in parish ministry, campus ministry, university teaching and non profit management. Her book, Surprised by God: Teaching Reflection through the Parables is a great resource for field educators and their students. Christina has been a member of ATFE for 8 years and has served as the chair of the Research & Publications committee of ATFE since 2018.
Contact Christina at email@example.com
Chris Arockiaraj, At Large
Father Chris Arockiaraj, P.S.S., is Director of Pastoral Formation at Theological College, Catholic University of America. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Madras, India. He has held many positions in chaplaincy and academia and is a certified pastoral counselor and spiritual director. He lectures in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at Catholic University and coordinates the Basic Supervised Ministry Program in addition to serving as Vice-Rector of the Theological College.
Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Melvin Baber, At Large
The Rev. Dr. Baber is the Field Education Coordinator at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1982 by the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of the late Rev. Dr. Robert E. McMorris. He currently serves as Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church, York, PA, where he is their longest sitting Pastor. Before entering full-time ministry, he taught in public high schools and worked in the non-profit world with ex-offenders and formerly incarcerated persons. At LTS, he serves as an adjunct instructor and the Coordinator of the Field Education Program.
Contact Melvin at email@example.com
Erin Laurvick, At Large
Ms. Laurvick is Program Manager for the Office of Professional Formation at Iliff School of Theology. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Colorado Boulder and Master of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology. Her background includes work within refugee resettlement and food insecurity non-profits, children, youth, and young adult church ministries, corporate and higher education technology, as well as extensive experience in mentoring, organizational operations, and curriculum development.
Contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan MacAlpine-Gillis, At Large
The Rev. Dr. MacAlpine-Gillis is Assistant Professor at Atlantic School of Theology. She is ordained in the United Church of Canada. She researches and writes about congregational development, leadership, and transformation. She teaches courses in pastoral theology at AST, co-coordinates the summer distance MDiv program, and serves as Recruitment and Vocations Coordinator.
Contact Susan at email@example.com
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