In a land torn by widening ideological chasms, many churches worship weekly with people in the pews influenced by widely diverse theological, political, moral, and cultural perspectives. This "big tent" pluralism complicates ministry. The voice of a pastor is one small voice in a wild mix. In this course we will treat this dynamic as an opportunity and ask how ministers in these churches might lead, preach, teach, do mission, and perform the routine tasks of ministry. We will address these questions through historical, theoretical, and practical writings, practical exercises, and the good conversations these generate.
Instructors: Allen Hilton taught New Testament at Yale Divinity School before a call to ministry took him to Congregational churches in New Canaan, Connecticut, Seattle, Washington, and, most recently, Wayzata, Minnesota, where he serves as the Minister of Faith and Learning. Allen served on the Editorial Board of Feasting on the Word (a twelve-volume lectionary commentary currently in publication with Westminster-John Knox Press), has helped direct the online Yale Bible Study series, and is currently writing the Jesus volume in Augsburg-Fortress' adult Bible study series, "The Greatest Story." Wes Avram was the Clement-Muehl Assistant Professor of Communication at YDS and the Institute for Sacred Music from 2000-2006. He has served as the Head of Staff in mid-sized and large Presbyterian congregations near Chicago and Philadelphia, and now in Scottsdale, Arizona, and in college chaplaincy. Wes has written on the rhetoric of truth in the context of radical pluralism and believes the church needs a more creative approach to the "big tent" than has been normally taught. He is the author of Where the Light Shines Through (Brazos, 2005), and editor of Anxious About Empire (Brazos, 2004), to which Allen Hilton contributed. Wes and Allen co-taught "Text, Memory, and Performance" while teaching at YDS. They have found similar challenges and opportunities in the big tent congregations they've served.