Academic Programs 

Church Challenges: Ecclesiology and Leadership Today

Summer 2008

Understanding the nature of the church and its emerging challenges is essential for effective ministry. This course examines both classic insights and new directions in ecclesiology, including their implications for leadership in churches today. During the week of the course, students will participate in a two-day conference that includes leading ecclesiology scholars reflecting on their own writings, and regional denominational leaders addressing significant challenges in their traditions. Students will also be invited to think of the church as a sign, considering exactly what the church signifies in and for the world.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Monday, 9 June — Friday, 13 June from 9:00am to 4:00pm (with some variations)

James Nieman,
Professor of Practical Theology

Contact Information:


Course Syllabus

a. To learn the background history of doctrines and study of the church, including how these responded to particular ecclesial concerns;
b. To gain an overview of recent scholarship in the field of ecclesiology and how this has changed during the past half century;
c. To note how these insights bring new perspectives to challenges faced by actual forms of the church in the contemporary world;
d. To experience a fresh conversation about how scholarship on the church and oversight of church leadership is being grounded; and
e. To engage seriously and deeply the most important insights from the week in relation to one’s ecclesial tradition and form of ministry.

Monday, 9 June — 9:00am to 4:00pm
Morning: Brief history of the field of ecclesiology [Kärkkäinen]
Afternoon: Foundational images of the church [Minear]

Tuesday, 10 June — 9:00am to 4:00pm
Morning: Background to recent scholarship [Fackre, Haight, Healy]
Afternoon: Focusing on the conference ahead

Wednesday, 11 June — 9:00am to 4:00pm
All day: see attached event schedule

Thursday, 12 June — 9:00am to 4:00pm
All day: see attached event schedule

Friday, 13 June — 9:00am to 4:00pm
Morning: Review and discuss insights from conference
Afternoon: Student proposals for final projects

This course relies on a significant amount of advance reading, which is essential for getting the most out of the discussion and embedded conference. The week unfolds in three main moves. First, through preparatory readings and in-class conversation, we will sample what has happened in recent scholarly work on the church (Monday). We will also review the work of the three scholars who will present this week, and plan questions to be asked of scholars and judicatory leaders during the conference itself (Tuesday). Second, through listening in on the “Church Challenges” conference, we will hear seven judicatory leaders speak about issues facing church and ministry in their respective traditions (Wednesday). We will also engage what motivates and directs the work of three scholars in ecclesiology (Thursday). Participants will be able to pose questions and enter into the conversation with conference panelists. Third, through conversation, we will review the insights gained through the conference. Students will propose research projects for their final papers, with collaboration from fellow students about those proposals (Friday). This third move will culminate in a research paper due in mid-July.

Preparation - 30% of grade
All students are to read the following two texts in their entirety before our Monday session:

Minear, Paul S., Images of the Church in the New Testament, The New Testament Library (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004) ISBN 0664227791

Kärkkäinen, Veli-Matti, An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical & Global Perspectives (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2002) ISBN 0830826882

Each student will also select one of the following three texts to read in its entirety before our Tuesday session (the selection must be declared to the instructor by e-mail by 2 June):

Haight, Roger, S.J., Christian Community in History, vol. 3: Ecclesial Existence (New York: Continuum, 2008) ISBN 9780826429476

Healy, Nicholas M., Church, World and the Christian Life: Practical-Prophetic Ecclesiology (New York: Cambridge, 2000) ISBN 0521786509

Students should take careful notes of all readings and be prepared to enter into an active conversation about them during in-class discussion.

Participation - 20% of grade
Attendance at and active participation in every class session during the week is expected of all students. Exceptions will only be allowed if advance permission has been granted by the instructor, and only for unavoidable absences. In all cases, failure to be in attendance at more than one class session automatically precludes successful completion of the course. This portion of the grade includes showing an active familiarity with all assigned readings.

Presentation - 10% of grade
Each student will be allotted equal time on Friday afternoon to present the most important insights they have gleaned from the week and how these will contribute to a final project. (Several options for the final project will be outlined at the end of Thursday.) Presentations should not involve the entire allotted time, but should leave space for collegial conversation of what the student presents. The aim of this time is to identify and refine a manageable topic to be explored in greater depth in the final project.

Project - 40% of grade
The key insights bearing upon congregations identified during the Friday presentation time will become the focus for the final project. Regardless of the project option used, the overall length should be around 15 pages in length (double-spaced, not including bibliography), and is due by 11 July. Extensions for the final project will not be granted.

Church Challenges: Ecclesiology and Leadership Today
Ecclesiology scholars and judicatory leaders sharing their insights
about issues facing the study and leadership of the church

Hartford Seminary — Hartford, Connecticut
11-12 June 2008 — 10:00am to 3:00pm

Wednesday, 11 June
Judicatory leaders

Rev. Judith G. Allbee

Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of Connecticut

Archbishop LeRoy Bailey, Jr.
Senior Pastor and Chief Executive Officer
First Cathedral, Bloomfield, Connecticut

Rev. Dr. Davida Crabtree
Conference Minister
Connecticut Conference, UCC

Rev. Dana F. Lindsley
Executive Presbyter
Presbytery of Southern New England, PCUSA

Msgr. John McCarthy
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford

Rev. Margaret G. Payne
New England Synod, ELCA

Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith

Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Thursday, 12 June
Ecclesiology scholars

Dr. Roger Haight, S.J.
Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology
Union Theological Seminary, New York
Christian Community in History, vol. 3: Ecclesial Existence (Continuum, 2008)

Dr. Nicholas M. Healy
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
University of San Diego
Church, World and the Christian Life: Practical-Prophetic Ecclesiology (Cambridge, 2000)


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500