In an era when people of faith are pulling away from both rigid doctrines and denominational affiliations, how should pastors approach religious education for their believers? Those on the path to pastorship in any faith community will get some trade secrets from Dr. Jo Anne Hickman, at an Open House on Thursday, Aug. 20 in Midtown Manhattan. She is an experienced church curriculum developer and an Affiliate Adjunct Professor of Religious Education at the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS).
Dr. Hickman will give a sample lecture from her course titled, “Foundations of Religious Education,” at 6:30 p.m. at 4 West 43rd St., New York City. She will give an overview of various models of religious education in terms of their foundational principles.
“In my course, students will investigate what it means for their own faith communities to educate religiously in today's complex inter-religious world, and ways for people of faith to cross over in sympathetic understanding to the religions of others and gain insight into how to be religious inter-religiously,” she says.
Dr. Hickman serves as a commissioner on the Education Committee at the Riverside Church which she joined in 2012. She has also served as an adjunct professor at the New York Theological Seminary from 1997 until the present. She is an ordained clergy person in the Church of God in Christ and is seeking Privilege of Call with the United Church of Christ. For 12 years Dr. Hickman held the position of Associate Pastor for the Nazarene UCC Church in Brooklyn where she served as Chair of the Sunday School and as Coordinator of the Health Ministry.
The Open House event will also inform guests about the strong interfaith learning environment of UTS, and its very competitive tuition costs. Graduate students can attend UTS in the Fall 2015 semester by enrolling before the deadline of Aug 25th.
“Our seminary is one of the few accredited theological graduate schools in the United States that is interfaith,” according to Dr. Kathy Winings, UTS Vice President for Academic Affairs, who also noted the tremendous diversity of the student body. Founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Moon 40 years ago this year, approximately one half of the students in the 2014-2015 academic year were from faith backgrounds outside the Unification faith. Many are earning their degrees in Master of Divinity as preparation for careers in pastoring churches, chaplaincy and diverse creative ministries. Others are seeking the Master of Arts in Religion in order to work in the field of conflict resolution or in nonprofit leadership. Still others complete the Master of Religious Education degree to pursue a teaching ministry or to build a career in peacebuilding.
“UTS has been a great help to allow me to fellowship with other nations and their cultures,” says Apostle Nabiyah Baht Yehuda, M.Div (UTS'15). Rev Yehuhda has founded a ministry called the Chamber Room Experience” in New York.
“The training I received at UTS has helped me birth a successful ministry and form a healthy body of believers. The fact that UTS had a fusion of Jewish, Christians and Muslims in the same classroom appealed to me, too,” says Rev. Raymond Dyer, pastor of the First Church of Illumination in Harlem. He adds: “The future shines bright; is pregnant with excitement and it is largely due to the training for Master of Divinity I received from the seminary.” Rev. Dyer graduated in 2012 with a Master in Divinity from UTS.