An essential part of the CTS experience is fieldwork -- honest, actual service in real world environments and situations. Theological Field Education is the practical application of theology in context. As students participate, they are challenged to explore their particular calling to ministry and service; to grow personally and professionally; to clarify their commitment to religious vocation; and to articulate a theological understanding of their work.
Most importantly, Theological Field Education is an opportunity to experience theology in both theory and in context. It provides an environment to practice the many skills of effective transformative leadership.
Theological Field Education places you in a learning/serving relationship with your supervisor and congregation/community. Your placement year will be filled with action – practical, hands-on experience as you take on the tasks of religious service and leadership, whatever they may be. And your supervisor, peers, and perhaps other members of the community will join with you in reflection – offering guidance and companionship as you grow in knowledge, faith and vocation.
For M.Div. students, Theological Field Education includes two site placement requirements – Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) and a Congregational or Community Field Placement. Fulfilling these requirements gives students hands-on ministry experiences connecting theory to practice, specifically in the contexts of healthcare and social justice organizations, congregations, and communities.
Hands-on experience. Where the rubber meets the road.
The Word made flesh…
Theological Field Education is a name for teaching and learning that brings to the fore the practical dimensions of doing and living theology – in real places, with real people, in a diversity of contexts. At Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), we understand our entire curriculum as contextual education because we acknowledge that all theology is contextual. The entire Master of Divinity curriculum, classroom instruction and site placements, nurture the student’s exploration of the Christian tradition, integration of thought and feeling, and embodiment of ministry as a way of life within contemporary communities of faith and action. As students participate in Theological Field Education, they are challenged to explore their particular calling to practices of ministry and service; to grow personally and professionally; to clarify their commitment to Christian vocation; to refine skills and illuminate gifts; and to articulate a theological position on ministry.
Most importantly, Theological Field Education is an opportunity to experience the intersections of theology in theory and theology in context, and to practice the many skills of effective entry, accompaniment, and return that characterize transformative leadership. To this process, each student brings his or her particular personal history and resources, understanding of ministry, awareness of cultural and theological traditions, and encounter with the faith community.
Theological Field Education places you in a learning/serving relationship with your supervisor and congregation/community, using an action-reflection model of learning together. Your placement year will be filled with action – practical, hands-on experience as you take on the tasks of ministry, wherever you may be serving. And your supervisor, peers, and perhaps other members of the congregation/community will join with you in reflection – offering guidance and companionship as you reflect on your experiences and grow in knowledge, faith and vocation.
If you represent a congregation or organization interested in becoming a field site please continue reading here.
Theological Field Education Requirements
For M.Div. students, Theological Field Education at CTS includes fulfilling two site placement requirements – Clinical Pastoral Education ( FE 470: Clinical Pastoral Education or FE 475: ACTS Urban CPE in the CTS Course Listings) and a Parish or Community Field Placement (FE 471:Concurrent Field Placement in the CTS Course Listings). Fulfilling these requirements gives students hands-on ministry experiences that further enhance their abilities to connect theological theory to theological practice, specifically in the contexts of healthcare organizations, churches, and communities.
Clinical Pastoral Education
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is a nationwide program that places students in highly supervised group settings, where they can fruitfully explore and engage their own practices and ministries with persons in situations of extreme need. CPE usually takes place in health care settings (hospitals/medical centers, nursing homes, hospice) but students may also experience CPE in street ministries and other ministries to the homeless, ministries with at-risk youth, community organizing agencies, and more. All students completing the M.Div. degree must complete at least one unit of CPE.
Parish and/or Community Field Placements
The other required unit of supervised, experiential learning, is satisfied through participation in a Parish and/or Community Field Placement – a part-time, supervised site placement at a parish or a faith-related service/advocacy organization, concurrent with other coursework and related requirements. While some students who come to CTS discern a call to specialized ministry in non-parish settings, we encourage students who will be seeking ordination, or who are discerning whether or not to seek ordination, to locate placements in parish ministry that will fulfill denominational requirements and expose them to a range of pastoral and organizational experiences. Students who serve in a parish will work closely with supervisor who is an ordained pastor in the congregation’s faith tradition, to gain experience with various aspects of congregational ministry. As an alternative, you may choose to serve in a service or advocacy agency that has connection to and works together with faith communities; some of these placements may involve parish experience alongside community service/advocacy. Students who must complete a full-time, year-long internship for ordination with your denomination may work with the Director of Theological Field Education and the Registrar to make arrangements for fulfilling that requirement.
Field Placement Site Supervisors are important members of our CTS learning community; they are experienced clergy and religious leaders who have a great commitment to the ministries they serve and to transforming society to greater justice and mercy. They are guides for your journey, practical theologians, and teachers – our partners in theological education. You will meet with your supervisor on a weekly basis, for theological reflection on your service in ministry, your learning process and your vocational and spiritual formation. Your Theological Field Education supervision experiences will hopefully provide a dynamic and interactive relationship between two persons who seek to grow together in faithfulness, thought, and action.
So…what do I have to do?
M.Div. students typically undertake their field education during their second or third year at CTS; timing will vary according to your particular scheduling needs, as full-time or part-time students. The Director of Theological Education and the Registrar will work closely with you as you complete your requirements for field education and the M.Div. degree.
The following chart explains the various components, prerequisites, and written requirements of both CPE and Parish/Community Field Placements at CTS. You will find more detailed information in the Handbook, which is available for downloading below.
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
Parish/Community Field Placements
Required Written Materials and Evaluations
All are completed at the CPE site.
For more information, see the ACPE website
All are completed as part of CM 400: The Practice of Christian Ministry
Forms & Resources
Field Education Forms
M.Div Handbook [pdf]
Theological Field Education Checklist [doc]
MDiv Learning Covenant form [doc]
Some suggestions for creating professional development goals [pdf]
Field Placement Evaluations, Student [pdf]
Field Placement Evaluations, Supervisors [pdf]
Student Information Form [doc]
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) application [pdf]
Field Placement Site Description Form [doc]
Current Placement Sites & Supervisors
Advocate UCC, Chicago Heights; Rev. Sandra Florentino, supervisor
Bethany Methodist Hospital, Chicago; Rev. Ted Durst, supervisor
Canaan AME Church, Maywood; Rev. C. Calvin Rice, supervisor
Congregational UCC, Arlington Heights; Rev. Rex Piercy, supervisor
Epiphany UCC, Chicago; Rev. Kevin McLemore, supervisor
First Congregational UCC, Cedar Rapids (IA); Rev. Bob David, supervisor
First Congregational UCC, Grand Ledge (MI); Rev. Nicolette Siragusa, supervisor
First Congregational UCC, Naperville; Rev. Mark Winters, supervisor
First United Church, Oak Park; Rev. Rob Leveridge, supervisor
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, Chicago; Rev. Wendy Witt, supervisor
Fox Valley Christian Action, Elgin; Ben Shenkin, supervisor
Gilead Ministry, Jackson Park Hospital, Chicago; Celeste Groff and Rev, Susan Johnson, supervisors
The Night Ministry, Youth Outreach Team; Rev. Menachem Cohen, supervisor
Vida/SIDA, Chicago; Jorge Cestou and Rev. Tyrone Fowlkes, supervisors
Caribbean Umbrella Body for Restorative Behavior (CURB), Trinidad & Tobago; Adrian Alexander, supervisor