Written by Pepe Demarest, Pastoral Intern
After one year of being welcomed to Christ the King as a pastoral intern, there may be some wondering, "what crazy program has interns work in their settings for two years?" Well, I am part of the inaugural cohort of MDivX at Luther Seminary. Luther describes the program as a “holy experiment to help the church reimagine theological education in a time of tremendous change.” This time of tremendous change was envisioned well before the changes that have happened due to Covid-19. The idea was “to rethink how we cultivate Christian community in a secular age.” The plan was to bring applicants who were spiritually and theologically innovative to reimagine what the church could be. My cohort consists of 28 students of various backgrounds from around the country.
At the beginning of our program, about a third of us met on Luther Seminary’s St. Paul campus for most of our classes, while the rest joined on Zoom. Now, we all only meet virtually. There are students Zooming in from Florida, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, California, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and outstate Minnesota. There are some who have just graduated from college, others who had been working in government and social services, youth ministry and business. Some of us are empty-nesters, others just starting families, but all of us knew that this experiment was going to be intense- not only for us, but also for our loved ones. You see the “X” in MDivX stands for expedited (some would say exhausting).
Traditional Masters of Divinity programs last four years. The first three years focus mostly on academics and the fourth year begins the contextual learning or internship for the seminarian. But last June, when I began my internship here, I was also taking Christian Public Leadership, The Gospel of Mark, Systematic Theology, and The Old Testament. I am lucky to call Christ the King my home where I can apply some of the theological theories to a real-world community.
The MDivX program has been funded for three years, and my cohort has already seen major changes. Usually each term starts with one or two weeks of intensives where all the dispersed learners get together for long days of classes at Luther. This was one of the great things about this program as we were able to share not only what each of our contexts was doing, but more importantly how God was using each of our individual gifts. Since the pandemic shut down in-person classes, we have not been able to meet and I miss my cohort so much! The second cohort started this June, and they have never gotten a chance to bond like we were able to. Please keep them in your prayers as the support of my cohort has always been one of the best things about this program. Luther is now taking applications for the final year of this program, hopefully by then they will be able to meet in person.
As I look forward to my final year here at CtK, I am excited to work with the pastoral team as we try to rethink what pastoral care will look like if in-person meeting is dangerous for our community. I am also very grateful for any feedback I receive about my sermons. Especially now with service online, it is hard to judge how they are received. Finally, I love to brag about the mentoring I get from Pastors Peter and John, but also the awe I feel when I think of how open to the Spirit this community is. So, it may not be that this program is crazy, but as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:13: “If we are crazy, it’s for God’s sake. If we are rational, it’s for your sake.”