Caucuses -

Evangelical Association of Theological Field Educators (EATFE)

EATFE is a professional association of evangelical theological field educators. Membership in EATFE is open to anyone serving in a seminary who is committed to effective engagement in ministries of personal and vocational formation.

2020-2022 EATFE Steering Committee

Jim Hampton, Chair
Co-Dir. of Mentored Ministry, Asbury Theological Seminary

Open, Vice-Chair

Andrew Dyck, Secretary
Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality and Pastoral Ministry, Canadian Mennonite University

Katherine Horvath, Treasurer
Admin. Dir. of Mentored Ministry and Career Services, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary – MA

EATFE held its 19th Biennial Conference at Gateway Seminary, Ontario, CA, in January 2020. 26 attendees from 15 member schools and organizations gathered, and these were the highlights:
* Attendees benefitted from several plenary presentations dealing with pertinent topics such as theological reflection, intercultural ministry, and spiritual direction in the classroom.
* Select members presented unique aspects of their current field education programs representing the diversity of practices in which our various schools engage as they help students immerse themselves in field education experiences.
* A panel of current ministry mentors of students was held, providing helpful perspectives on both how they see the value field education provides, as well as the importance of their role as they mentor students in their ministry engagement and formation.

 

 

Presbyterian/Reformed Theological Field Educators (PRTFE)

PRTFE is an informal fellowship of theological field educators serving the theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (USA), together with others who are members of the PCUSA. PRTFE met January 29-31, 2020, at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  They worked on the Excellence in Supervision project. PRTFE’s next meeting will take place around the 2021 ATFE Biennial Consultation in Tampa, FL. Contact: Sung Hee Chang, schang@upsem.edu

African American Caucus

Contact:  Melvin Baber, mbaber@lancasterseminary.edu

Lutheran Caucus

Contact: Tim Coltvet, tcoltvet001@luthersem.edu

Roman Catholic Caucus

Contact: Bonnie Abadie, babadie@ost.edu

Canadian Caucus

The Canadian Caucus of ATFE is composed of theological field educators across the country. Unlike our counterparts in the USA, we are not divided into denominational groupings. Work is underway to connect digitally in the fall of 2022 and in person at ATFE during our meeting in Colorado from January 24-26, 2023.

Contact: Susan MacAlpine-Gillis, smacalpinegillis@astheology.ns.ca

Methodist Caucus

Contact: Lisl Paul, lisl.paul@garrett.edu

ATFE Membership vs. Caucus Membership

Dipa Hart, Director of Field Education at Dallas Theological Seminary

I’ve been attending conferences for both ATFE and my caucus for evangelical seminaries (EATFE) for over 15 years. Though participation and membership with one is not a requirement for the other, both conferences remain a priority for me and my staff. I am often asked the questions, “Why should I do both? Is the expense worth it?”

For starters, no one grows up wanting to be a field educator; it just happens. This means new field educators join their institution at various, sometimes tumultuous times. However, ATFE conferences meet only in the odd dated years. EATFE meets in the even dated years. (Some of the other caucuses share this schedule while others meet in conjunction with the Biennial Consultation.) Therefore, new field educators can access resources, understand their responsibilities, and learn what other programs do, etc., in whichever conference comes first after their hire. ATFE, however, always offers a workshop for new field educators and provides a broader understanding of field education. Many initiates share how this workshop helps with clarity.

As an evangelical, I find the ATFE workshops on the “normal” topics - from mentoring to developing cross-cultural experiences - helpful and challenging to rethink our program’s direction for my students. I find the broader conversations engaged during ATFE easy to utilize and theologically nuance for my constituency base. On the other hand, my caucus, EATFE, focuses on a single issue at conferences, for example, standards of accreditation and theological reflection were primary topics in our last two meetings. It turned out, no matter the theological grid, we all experience the same set of issues and concerns with our students and respective institutions. Both the caucus and larger organization offer an astonishing wealth of knowledge. Who needs to start from scratch when someone else is already starting to address my questions?

I also attend ATFE to compare ideas and programs with more schools and members. Te Biennial Consultation of has over 100 attendees, and EATFE, even as the largest caucus, has only 30 attendees. When I first started in field education, both groups were vital to me for the diversity of program structures alone. How, with the theological diversity in my own student body, I attend both as our students vary across 25 different denominations. We want to equip them to best serve the areas of their youth, where many intend to return after graduation. As I stay connected to and aware of what other schools are encountering as well as how they train their students, I am able to further customize our internship program for each student.

Having a larger team places me in a unique situation, as many colleagues are the only field educators at their school. The camaraderie and shared fellowship at both conferences is tremendously helpful to reduce the isolation of being the solo field educator at any school. And even with a local team, hearing from those outside my tradition sustains my passion for field education and constantly challenges me to not grow stagnant.

In the past, the majority of ATFE’s benefits were tied to conference attendance. The larger expense of ATFE conferences does contributes to smaller attendance from my caucus, and he cost of ATFE membership was problematic for some colleagues. Currently, ATFE is developing a series of web-video conferences and continuing education pieces available to members only, and these additional resources are in response to this concern. I expect to see more member benefits in the future.

With that said, I confess only 40% of my caucus attends the larger ATFE gathering when the topics and workshops are more meaningful to them - sometimes ATFE’s plenary topics represent larger conversations that not all evangelicals want to engage. Since EATFE remains an organized group of helpful, like-minded colleagues, some always attend EATFE and use the odd dated years to attend either ATFE or other conferences. I do stress how ATFE works to create conferences that are topically relevant, regardless of denomination or theological commitment, and accessible to both seasoned veterans and new instructors of field education. I appreciate this commitment to variety and reducing the cost of ATFE (the conference or membership?) This association continues to proves itself to shape itself as an organization that remains responsive to its members.

Finally, I need to share these groups are some of the best colleagues I have found in academia. They are supportive and sincere, which, unfortunately, feels like a rarity in the academy. Seeing these colleagues at ATFE and EATFE makes each conference vital to maintaining my focus on my calling as a field educator. As a 15 year veteran, I sincerely believe I would not have made it this long without the prayers (and chocolate) of such devoted colleagues.

Whether you attend ATFE or your caucus meeting, I encourage you to stay connected. We are your people and look forward to seeing you soon.