Academic Programs 

Colleague Seminar I    DM-710-9 Fall 2002

The purpose of the Colleague Seminar is to explore the reflective practice of ministry in an atmosphere of personal and professional sharing and to produce a set of analytical and theological papers as background to the Ministry Project. 

The goal of this seminar is to create a learning environment in which practitioners of ministry can gain a critical perspective on their own work by engaging a broad array of literature on congregations and ministry in contemporary contexts, by engaging a diverse and supportive community of peer learners, and by systematic theological reflection on what they discover. This Seminar is also designed to introduce students in Hartford Seminary’s D.Min. program to the goals and procedures of the program.

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Mondays, 10:00-5:00, 9/8-10, 9/30, 10/21, 11/11, 12/9
Location: Room 206

Course Syllabus
Class web site

Nancy Ammerman

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500

Scott Thumma

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9571 
Dr. Thumma's web page


Assignments: The activities of the Seminar will include reading and discussion of what we have read, aided by brief written summary reading reports. You will also have hands-on opportunities to learn the skills and techniques of becoming systematic observers and analysts of the settings in which you minister, the findings of which you will share with each other. In these exercises you will gather the information you will need to write each of the major summary papers. These two major papers will allow you to focus on key aspects of congregational life, laying the groundwork for assessing where a ministry project ought to be directed.

The schedule that follows notes when each of these assignments will be due.

You should purchase

For fall semester:

  • Lischer, Richard. Open Secrets
  • Ammerman, et al. Studying Congregations
  • Williams, Melvin. Community in a Black Pentecostal Church

For spring semester:

  • Carroll, Jackson. As One With Authority
  • Rothauge, Arlin. "Sizing Up a Congregation"
  • Hoge, Dean, et al. Money Matters

Optional, but recommended for purchase. We will read portions of these books. Select for purchase those that interest you most. The books will be on reserve in the library.

  • Becker, Penny and Nancy Eiesland (eds.). Contemporary American Religion
  • Orsi, Robert A., editor. Gods of the City.
  • Wind, James P. and James W. Lewis, eds. American Congregations: New Perspectives in the Study of Congregations
  • Wuthnow, Robert. The Crisis in the Churches: Spiritual Malaise, Fiscal Woe

Articles and chapters from books (other than those that are required or recommended for purchase) will be available on the reserve shelf in the Library and may be copied at the student’s own discretion.





Session 1
Sep 8-9

An Invitation to Congregational Studies – Doing Theology in Context

  • Intro and ch. 7 of Studying Congregations.
  • Richard Lischer, Open Secrets.
  • James Nieman, "Attending Locally: 
    Theologies in Congregations"



Session 2
Sept 30

Congregations in Contemporary American Context

  • R. S. Warner, "The Place of the Congregation" in American Congregations, vol. 2, edited by James Wind and James Lewis.
  • R. S. Warner, "A Quarter Century Distilled," ch. 1 in New Wine in Old Wineskins.
  • R. Wuthnow, Loose Connections, ch. 3
  • R. Wuthnow, After Heaven, ch. 1
  • Diana Eck, A New Religious America, pp. 1-17

Scott Thumma, "Religion and the Internet"  

Exercise on collecting community data

Reading Report #1

Session 3
Oct 21

Mapping local ecologies

  • Studying Congregations, ch 2
  • Melvin Williams, Community in a Black Pentecostal Church, chs. 2 & 8
  • Orsi, Robert, "Introduction" in Gods of the City.
  • Eiesland, "Contending with a Giant" in Contemporary American Religion
  • Ebaugh, et al., "The Social Ecology of Residential Patterns" JSSR 39(1):107-116

Exercise on surveying the religious ecology

Reading Report #2

Session 4
Nov 11

Making a world – the congregation’s ritual and material culture

  • Studying Congregations, ch. 3
  • Three congregational rituals: Paul Wilkes, And They Shall Be My People, pp. 55-61; Warner, New Wine, pp. 1-10; Robert Orsi, The Madonna of 115th St., pp. 1-13
  • E. Gray and S. Thumma, "The Gospel Hour" in Contemporary American Religion.
  • Melvin Williams, Community in a Black Pentecostal Church, chs. 5 & 7
  • Colleen McDannell, Material Christianity, ch. 2
Reading Report #3

Session 5
Dec 17

Accounts – the world(s) the congregation speaks and sees

  • David Roozen, Wm. McKinney, and Jackson Carroll, Varieties of Religious Presence, pp. 34-36, 83-96, and ch. 7
  • Penny Edgell Becker, Congregations in Conflict, ch. 1
  • Melvin Williams, Community in a Black Pentecostal Church, ch. 6

Choose one of the following:

  • N. T. Ammerman, "Being Always Ready to Give an Answer," ch. 4 in Bible Believers.
  • Douglas Hayward, "Saturday Night in Pasadena" pp. 163-184 in GenX Religion.

Exercise on understanding congregational culture: Choose timeline, interview, or focus group

Reading Report #4









Session 6
Jan 27

The Work of the Congregation

  • N. T. Ammerman, Organizing Religious Work, chs. 2 & 4 (in manuscript, copy to be provided)
  • Ebaugh & Chafetz Agents for Cultural Reproduction and Structural Change: The Ironic Role of Women in Immigrant Religious Institutions. Social Forces 78(2): 585-613
  • Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, "’Together and in Harness,’ ch. 3 in If It Wasn’t for the Women
  • Joanna Gillespie, "Church" & "Inner life" Pp. 195-212 in "Gender and Generations in Congregations" from Catherine Prelinger, ed. Episcopal Women
Major Paper #1

Reading Report #5

Session 7
Feb 10

The Resources of the Congregation

  • Studying Congregations, ch 5
  • Dean Hoge, et al., Money Matters, chs 1-2 & 4-5
  • Robert Wuthnow, The Crisis in the Churches, chs. 1-2
  • Fredrick C. Harris, Something Within, ch. 6
Reading Report #6

Session 8
Mar 10

How Congregations Work -- the members
  • Studying Congregations, ch 4
  • Jay Dolan, "Patterns of Leadership in the Congregation" in American Congregations, vol 2, ed. by James Wind and James Lewis..
  • Rothauge, "Sizing up a Congregation"
  • Carroll & Roof, Bridging Divided Worlds, ch. 4
  • Melvin Williams, Community in a Black Pentecostal Church, chs. 3-4.

Exercise on resource analysis

Reading Report #7

Session 9
Mar 31

How Congregations Work -- the clergy

  • Jackson Carroll, As One With Authority, chs. 1-4
  • Larry Ingram, "Notes on Pastoral Power" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (1980) 19:40-48
  • D’Antonio, et al., American Catholics, chs. 7-8
Exercise on observing congregational process

Reading Report #8

Session 10
Apr 28

Leading the Way Forward

  • Studying Congregations, ch 6
  • Robert Wuthnow, The Crisis in the Churches, ch. 12
  • Riv-Ellen Prell, "Communities of Choice and Memory" in Jews in the Center, ed. by Jack Wertheimer
Brief paper: key leadership issues in your ministry

June 6



Major Paper #2


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