In 2018 Bethany Theological Seminary worked with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and Discipleship Ministries of the Church of the Brethren to offer a successful intensive course in urban ministry—A Place of Refuge: Ministry in the Urban Context. Building on that experience, the partners will offer the course again this January 6-16, 2020.
Designed as an immersion experience, the course will comprise both practical engagement and reflection. City of Refuge Ministries©, located in one of Atlanta’s most impoverished neighborhoods, will host the group and involve the students directly in its various programs, giving them hands-on experience. The group will also work with other faith-based ministries, exposing them to a variety of styles, strategies, and ministry niches employed in working with marginalized populations.
In studying various approaches to urban ministry, students will be introduced to networking structures and processes that make ministry partnerships possible. This will include exploring (1) the collective impact when three major sectors of society—nonprofit, public, and government—collaborate to support and assist the voiceless and, more specifically, (2) how the church can have an effective role.
Karen Duhai, MDiv ’16, MA ’18 and director of student development at Bethany, reflected on the 2018 course: “Bethany’s Atlanta intensive takes students out of the classroom and puts them in a real, urban ministry context where ministry is complicated, messy, challenging and hard, but also beautiful, sacred, and hopeful.”
The partnership began when Jeff Carter, president of Bethany, made the acquaintance of pastor Bruce Deel, founder and CEO of City of Refuge. Later, at Deel’s invitation, representatives from Bethany and the Church of the Brethren visited Atlanta to learn about the work being done there. From vocational training to care for trafficking victims, the varied programs at City of Refuge became the foundation for the current Bethany and Academy courses. Information about the organization can be found at https://.cityofrefugealt.org.
Anyone with a passion for urban ministry and a desire to impact their community is encouraged to enroll in A Place of Refuge: Ministry in an Urban Context. Students may apply for credit, to audit, or for CEUs through either Bethany or the Brethren Academy. Room and board and a voucher for travel to Atlanta are included in the cost of registration for both course levels. Students currently in the TRIM program can enroll for two ministry studies, one Bethany experience, and one ecumenical experience credit.