The e-Formation program of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching (CMT) at Virginia Theological Seminary has been awarded a grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to connect with other theological educators engaged in digital media training and action research.
“We held our first e-Formation Conference as a small pilot learning exchange among about forty friends and colleagues,” says Lisa Kimball, director of the CMT.
“Three years later, e-Formation 2015 will bring together 250 participants in person and online. At a time when calendars are full and continuing ed budgets are tight, that’s tremendous growth. It tells us that ministers are hungry for training, inspiration, and opportunities to reflect on how technology is changing their work.”
The yearly conference is just one component of a network of digital media for ministry training opportunities led by digital missioner Kyle Matthew Oliver for the CMT. Collectively, these efforts comprise the e-Formation Learning Community. Others include
- regional e-Formation bootcamps, held previously in Phoenix and Alexandria and currently booked for New Orleans and Chicago;
- fall hybrid faith formation cohorts that bring together congregation- and judicatory-based faith formation ministers for coaching and peer support in combining in-person and online Christian education models; and
- a fully credited digital media for ministry course for VTS students, which filled in the spring of 2015 and will be offered again as a January intensive in 2016.
“We think not teaching digital media skills today is like not teaching homiletics or pastoral care,” says Oliver. “Especially in the past year, we’ve been hearing about more and more colleagues who seem to agree with us. But we think this group is not yet the well connected community of practice that it could be.”
The $25,000 Arthur Vining Davis Foundations grant will fund an asset mapping project to identify and spread the word about digital media for ministry opportunities across the theological education landscape.
“We want to connect with other schools in order to learn from them and, we hope, them from us,” says Oliver. “We want to help connect colleagues across the country with opportunities for hands-on training at nearby institutions. And we want to invite anyone who’d like to join us to become partners in empowering the growing e-Formation Learning Community.”
The asset-mapping project will culminate in a digital media for ministry symposium for theological educators, to be held immediately after e-Formation 2016 in Metro Washington.
“We love video conferencing, but we know in-person gatherings are essential for building trust and exploring new possibilities for partnership,” says Kimball. “And the challenge of equipping ministers for culturally competent digital media ministry is too great for any school to tackle alone.”
To contact the CMT about participating in this project, email Kyle Oliver at [email protected].
The map (so far)
We don’t yet know the final form our asset map will take. For now, we’re using a Pinterest board with mapping functionality. Send your submissions to [email protected]!
As a summative activity of this research project, we will gather participants for a June 9-10 symposium at Virginia Theological Seminary. Read the draft symposium design here.
Gather selected participants in Digital Media for Ministry Asset Mapping project for summative briefing, learning exchange, resource creation, and conversations about collaboration and ways to advocate for greater attention to this area of 21st-century theological leadership formation.
Specially invited faculty members and others in theological education ministries interviewed as part of the project. Other interested parties may send a statement of interest to [email protected]
Lisa Kimball, Stacy Williams-Duncan, and Kyle Oliver of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching will host and facilitate. Paul Myhre, Associate Director of the Wabash Center, will serve as respondent and “theme weaver.”
- Opportunity to network and learn with colleagues at little to no cost
- Opportunity to shape direction of possible collaboration/proposals
- Complimentary housing for symposium and travel reimbursement of up to $400 for first dozen participants (additional funding by availability)
- Opportunity to attend some or all of e-Formation 2016 for just the cost of housing