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Mentored Ministry

Description and Purpose of Mentored Ministry

Mentored Ministry (MM) at Eastern Mennonite Seminary refers to a variety of experiential learning opportunities within the overall curriculum. The purpose of Mentored Ministry is to serve the overall seminary curriculum by providing opportunities to practice ministerial and public leadership that becomes transformative as one increasingly integrates wise interpretation, maturing practice, and discerning communication to engage God’s saving mission in the world, embodied in Jesus Christ. Common to each of the programs within the Mentored Ministry Curriculum is an individual mentor relationship.

Requirements :
Six(6 SH) of MM credit is required for the MDiv, normally 6SH in Formation in Ministry. Six (6SH) of MM credit is required for the MACL degree.

Core course: 601/602 Formation in Ministry I&II (6SH):

This “core” of the MM curriculum is a two semester (3SH per semester) course that includes an internship. Participants normally spend at least half of their ministry practice time in a congregational setting. Formation in ministry is required of MDiv and MACL students.


  1. A minimum of 6SH of Mentored Ministry (MM) credits are required for the MDiv; a maximum of 15SH of MM may be earned.
  2. Normally, a minimum of 3SH of the Mentored Ministry credits shall be earned in a congregational context. This is typically achieved through FS 601/602 Formation in Ministry. Students in the MDiv Pastoral Ministry Track shall earn a minimum of 6SH of MM credit in the congregational context.
  3. FS 601/602 Formation in Ministry (6SH) is to be taken in the middle phase of a student’s seminary program. A prerequisite is FS 501/502 Formation in God’s Story I&II and approval of degree candidacy.
  4. SMFE 601 Clinical Pastoral Education (6SH) may be taken at any point during the seminary experience excepting when a student is enrolled in another MM program. CPE is recommended for students in the Chaplaincy or Pastoral Counseling concentrations in the MDiv Specialized Ministries Track.

A student with significant congregational ministry experience (5 years or more) may petition to substitute SMFE601 Clinical Pastoral Education (6SH) in place of FS 601/602 Formation in Ministry I&II to meet the Mentored Ministry “core” requirement.

Cross-Cultural Experience

Eastern Mennonite University educates students to live in local and international contexts. Thus, Eastern Mennonite Seminary requires each student to engage in one intentional cross-cultural experience. The university also teaches students to embrace environmental sustainability as a core value. Because the travel industry is particularly environmentally and economically taxing, students and faculty are encouraged to make use of local contexts that are most conducive to cross-cultural learning.

Cross-cultural experiences have the potential to equip students for ministry in our diverse world by increasing students’ cultural intelligence, which is crucial to transformational leadership. Cultural intelligence (CQ) is the capability to function effectively in intercultural contexts. It involves serious analysis of our motivations, interests and drive to adapt cross-culturally. CQ requires wise interpreters with knowledge of the similarities and differences between cultures. It also demands mature practitioners who have strategies for interpreting cues and planning for multicultural interactions. And CQ encourages discerning communicators to develop skills that will enable them to behave appropriately in cross-cultural situations. If entered into with these possibilities in mind, the context of cross-cultural experiences can provide fruitful dimensions for theological reflection.

There are strong biblical interests and motivations for learning to adapt cross-culturally. In the biblical world, people were at times called by God to encounter new cultures. We remember Abraham wandering towards the promise, Moses and Israel in the desert, Jesus moving about the fringes, Paul in the heart of the pluralist Roman Empire. All of these journeys required motivation, knowledge, strategies, and behaviors for effectively navigating intercultural contexts. Jesus sent his followers into all the world, not only to teach others but to listen and learn as they went. Following this call can create a sense of “wilderness,” where one struggles with God, self, and others. People often grow as disciples of Christ where they do not have the usual securities and support to alleviate intellectual, spiritual and physical discomfort.

Intentional cross-cultural experiences have the capacity to help students grow in cultural self-awareness, which is crucial to effective cross-cultural relating. Cross-cultural engagement can also help students become aware of their own negative attitudes towards difference so that they can begin to develop positive attitudes about difference that will contribute to healing and reconciliation across religious and ethnic divisions in the communities where we live and work. Our Anabaptist convictions regarding reconciliation and peacebuilding call us to help alleviate suspicion among diverse peoples that can so readily result in alienation or escalate tensions that explode into dangerous violence.

In academic pursuits, our strategies for engaging the “other” too often present them as objects of study rather than as true conversation partners. In contrast, intentional cross-cultural encounters offer the possibility of life-changing mutual growth and change. We grow spiritually when we learn to interpret cues and are open to discovering the presence and work of God within the “other.” Therefore, we seek to cultivate in our students the ability to claim their own identity (personal, family, ethnic, confessional) while extending hospitality (respect, space, time, openness) to others. This tension must not blur or obliterate genuine distinctions. Rather, these cultural distinctions should be explored and celebrated.

We intend for our students to be mature in their ability to behave appropriately in cross cultural situations by discerning which of their own cultural patterns and perspectives are, or are not, consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Intentional cross-cultural experiences can magnify our own distinctives and convictions so that we no longer see them as normative, but as part of a cultural context. In this light, we also note that difference is a fact of every community, local and international. We need safe spaces to learn about diversity, within diversity, and from diversity. Ironically, the more “at home” we become in the diversity of our own identity and tradition (tested in encounters with various “others”) the more generous of spirit we can become toward diverse others.

EMS requires that students engage in one intentional cross-cultural experience for academic credit. The experience may involve a variety of learning strategies such as ministry in a context different to one’s own, living with a host family while learning another language, or interfaith interaction. More specifically, students may fulfill the curriculum requirement in one of the following ways:

  1. participating in a cross-cultural experience led by seminary faculty;
  2. completing the course CM 613 A – Cross Cultural Church Experience; or
  3. arranging a mentored ministry internship or directed study with significant cross-cultural dimensions;

Each cross-cultural experience will demonstrate integration of the four key components of Cultural Intelligence. The integration of these components will show evidence of a robust experience that contributes to increasing the capability of EMS students to function effectively in cross-cultural settings:

  1. Motivation, interest, and drive to adapt cross-culturally. (self-awareness)
  2. Knowledge of the similarities and differences between cultures. (other-awareness)
  3. Strategies for interpreting cues and planning for multicultural interactions. (planning to engage difference)
  4. Skills that foster the ability to behave appropriately in cross-cultural situations. (developing skills)

In cases where students bring significant prior intentional cross-cultural experience, they may meet the cross cultural requirement by taking the 1SH CM 572 – Cross Cultural Integration Seminar for further reflection on their maturing Cultural Intelligence. This alternative should be made available to international students comparing and reflecting on ministry within the U.S. context.

Distance Learning

The seminary offers a number of courses for students at a distance from the campus. The courses use online computer technology to link students with the instructor and each other. The program of distance learning is under development. Fifteen courses are currently available, with six or seven being offered each year. International students must document language skills and the ability to pay tuition fees as stated in the admissions section for international students.

BVOT 511 Old Testament: Text in Context 
BVNT 512 New Testament: Text in Context 
CM 643 Missio Dei in Cultural Context 
CTH 641 Mennonite History 
CT 523 Anabaptism Today: Learning with Yoder and Hauerwas 
BVG 621 Interpreting the Biblical Text 
SMCL 611 Pastoral Care 
CTE 713 Sermon on the Mount: Peace, Justice and the Reign of God 
SMCL 641 Leadership and Administration 
CM 633 Mennonite Faith and Polity 
SMCL 652 Managing Congregational Change and Conflict
CM 615 Cross-cultural Discipleship (a BLESS course)
BVG 532 Jesus Movement in the First Century (a BLESS course)
CM 562 Christian Movement in the Mediterranean (a BLESS course)
CTT 711 Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Life, Theology and Witness
CM 542 Psychology of Religious Experience
CM 663 Race and Religion in America
CTH 501 Christian Tradition I
CM 631 Churches and Social Transformation

(For course descriptions see the “Courses” section of the catalog or click on the course above)

The tuition costs are the same as on-campus rates. For a schedule of these courses and further information contact the seminary admissions office at 540-432-4257 or email

More Information on Distance Learning

Hybrid Courses

The seminary offers a number of courses in a hybrid format (combination of distance learning and face-to-face format). These hybrid courses are structured in such a way that they meet the residency requirement for a degree. Typically hybrid courses will begin with an intensive week of study on campus. The course continues for the duration of the semester online. Such hybrid courses allow individuals at a distance to work towards a seminary degree without necessarily making a permanent move to campus.

Summer Offerings

May and June offer a variety of summer school opportunities. A Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation is offered in the month of June. In addition, every May and June courses are offered in a variety of formats. An intensive unit of CPE is offered from mid-June to mid-August.

Students who qualify may take directed studies in areas not covered by courses offered in the curriculum. Also, ministry internships may be arranged through the director of field education.

School for Leadership Training

This annual event the third week of January has a long-standing tradition on the university campus. It has developed from a “Ministers Week” into a “School for Leadership Training” for lay leaders, pastors and current seminary students.

Many classes on a variety of subjects are planned. Bible studies, workshops and inspirational addresses round out the event. The program is integrated with the seminary schedule, allowing students to interact with attenders. Continuing education credit is offered to those attending the entire event. For students the SLT classes and plenary addresses normally replace the regular class work for the week.

More Information on School for Leadership Training

John Coffman Center- Developing Missional Leadership

The John Coffman Center at Eastern Mennonite Seminary offers non-traditional, experiential learning that combines creative study with practical mission and service in a cross-cultural setting. In close cooperation with Mennonite mission agencies, the John Coffman Center has launched the Biblical Lands Educational Seminars and Service program. This unique graduate study program focuses on the missional leadership of Jesus and Paul in the first century Roman Empire as relevant and effective models for leaders in the globalized world of the 21st century.

By offering key courses to people where they are serving, the John Coffman Center facilitates creative missiological reflection among an emerging generation of leaders who are already responding to the call of Jesus to go into the world with the good news. To make this kind of study possible, the John Coffman Center administers the Samuel Grant, a full-tuition, per-course scholarship that makes BLESS and other online Eastern Mennonite Seminary courses available at no cost for persons in a mission or service assignment.

In addition to the BLESS program, the John Coffman Center serves the church and mission organizations through conferences, consultations, teaching, seminars and other specialized services in the area of missions, missional leadership, evangelism, church development, and cross-cultural studies.

Extension Program in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The Pastoral and Theological Studies program at EMU-Lancaster is approved by the Pennsylvania Dept of Education for the MDiv and for the Certificates in Ministry Leadership and Theological.  Lancaster students can pursue the MACL too, but at the moment they receive that degree through EMS.  We are currently seeking approval for the MACL from PDE and expect to receive it soon.

The curriculum at the Pennsylvania extension site matches the curriculum on main campus while making minor adjustments for size and setting. The extension focuses on core curriculum courses, about six each semester, that are deemed “Anabaptist-critical” for leadership in Mennonite and Anabaptist-related congregations.

The extension in Pennsylvania functions with broad administrative support from main campus. This includes but is not limited to –

  • Admissions: The EMS Director of Admissions facilitates the approval for admission of all students – part-time, certificate and degree-seeking – according to the established policies of EMS
  • Registrar: The EMS Associate Dean and Registrar handle official academic record-keeping and course rating decisions pertaining to students at the Pennsylvania site.
  • Billing and Bookkeeping: All financial transactions for the extension are handled on main campus in Virginia – student billing, faculty and staff payroll, audits, etc.

Financial Aid: Students at the extension are eligible for Church Matching Grants. Students need to be admitted to a degree program and enrolled for at least five (5) credit hours in a semester.

Collaboration: A unique feature of the extension program in Pennsylvania is the collaborative agreements developed with nearby ATS-accredited seminaries.

  • Evangelical Theological Seminary, Myerstown, PA
  • Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, PA

Students who wish to take courses for credit offered through EMU-Lancaster are admitted for study through the normal admissions process for the Seminary. They receive EMU identification numbers and are eligible to receive library and information services.

Library Services: EMU-Lancaster is supported by the Hartzler Library on the university main campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The catalog, a wide variety of periodicals, reference works and database search capabilities are available online. Books and library materials are regularly transported between the main campus and the Lancaster, Pennsylvania center. Hartzler Library is the primary library resource for students at the extension.

In addition, EMU-Lancaster has entered into formal agreements for access privileges and services with three libraries containing extensive theological resources. These libraries are within 30 minutes driving distance of most students and are open during regular business hours and some evenings and weekends. They are each staffed by library professionals equipped to assist the research and reference needs of students.

  • Philip Schaff Library at Lancaster Theological Seminary
  • Lancaster Mennonite Historical Library attached to the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society

Information Systems and Technological Support: The offices and classroom at the extension in Lancaster are linked to the main campus computer network. Various databases, student records, budgets, instructional technologies are all accessible from EMU-Lancaster. The Information Systems department for main campus monitors and maintains the information technology in Pennsylvania. There is a high speed wireless connection to the internet for students and faculty.

Small is Beautiful: In addition to the library, technology and instructional services identified above, students in the Seminary’s extension program enjoy the benefits of a small program. Students and faculty function on a first-name basis; there is a high level of familiarity and collegiality among participants. Students appreciate the individualized attention they receive from instructors and support staff. Classes meet in the evenings or on weekends.

Students in Pennsylvania are often non-traditional, part-time students, who are employed in a ministry setting or the marketplace. There are fewer structures for organized student life on campus. However, it is common for students to take turns bringing food to share with the class. Many of students also interact in other ministry settings.

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