Facilitating Community is designed to provide a foundational understanding of leadership as ministry development and introduces participants to a learning community approach to religious leadership. Participants will examine what leadership means to them in relation to the Christian story and the missional church. This course includes readings, reflections and practice with group decision-making/participatory processes.

Required Reading:

Kaner, Sam, and Lenny Lind. Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-making. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: New Society, 1996. 

Block, Peter. Community the Structure of Belonging. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2008.


AZ-F copyInstructor: Amanda Ziebell-Finley, Ed.D. Candidate in Education, specializing in constructivist learning communities. MA in Organizational Leadership


Online: Monday October 12 to Monday November 30, 2015

In person: Saturday, November 7, 8:30am - 3:30pm at the ECMN Retreat Center, Faribault MN

The Old Testament is perhaps one the most fascinating yet misunderstood parts of the church's heritage. Many of us--both in and outside of Christianity--are somewhat familiar with particular stories from the Old Testament, but we lack a clear portrait of the Old Testament as a whole. Additionally, modern approaches to studying history have revolutionized our understandings of ancient Israel, early Judaism, and the formation of the Old Testament, but these new perspectives are not widely known or understood.

This class is designed to empower students to teach, preach, and live the Old Testament scriptures as a theological story. To do this we will utilize the metaphor of "layers” to describe the development of the Bible and the effects of readers who have read, interpreted, and lived the text throughout history and today. As each new layer is added, the old layers still remain, creating a new composition--a new story--that no individual or community ever quite owns or controls alone.

Layers:  Creation, Israel, Law, Exile, Empire, Apocalypse

Rather than concentrating on a particular corpus or a quick overview of the contents, this class emphasizes six key "layers” in the Christian story of the Bible, providing students with a framework for understanding the Old Testament as a whole. It is hoped that as students continue to encounter the Bible after this course through worship, group Bible study, and independent reading, the framework will remain as a helpful tool.

RCarlson Profile PlainInstructor: The Rev. Reed Carlson

Doctoral Student in Hebrew Bible at Harvard Divinity School 


What is the church here for? How can we understand mission in a world in which the church no longer holds cultural privilege? What is God up to in the neighborhood and how are we gifted and called to join in God's mission to and for the world? What does the shape of God's life in Trinity mean for how we engage our neighbors? This course will explore biblical and theological understandings of mission as we seek to understand the church's identity and purpose in a post-establishment, post-colonial era.


As a student, you will:

  • Gain familiarity with the Christendom's legacy and a sense of how things are today where you live
  • Develop a working understanding of the Trinitarian theological basis for missional church Try out and reflect on disruptive practices that can help any missional church focus on God's mission
  • Begin to articulate a leadership approach to your congregational setting

Required Readings:

Dwight Zscheile, People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity

Pat Keifert, We Are Here Now.

Patrick Keifert and Nigel Rooms, Forming the Missional Church (26 pages) (to be provided at the in person gathering)

Instructor: DEllisonr. Pat Taylor Ellison, Managing Director of Research & Development, Church Innovations Adjunct Instructor, Sanford-Brown College.

Pat Taylor Ellison, Ph.D., is as an accomplished consultant, trainer, curriculum designer, and speaker with 44 years of teaching experience. She earned her Ph. D. in Adult Education Curriculum & Instructional Systems Design at the University of Minnesota.

As Church Innovations' Managing Director of Research and Development, she oversees Congregational Discovery, a deep-listening applied ethnography process for congregations, used all over North America as well as in Europe and in southern Africa. She also manages research for large and small projects about how congregations and other bodies learn to be a part of God's mission in their communities, placing quantitative and qualitative data into Church Innovations' massive interactive database, Church FutureFinder so that it may be used effectively in congregations, classrooms, judicatory, and scholarly circles.

Pat also translates into simple habits what Church Innovations and its partners have learned, developing user-friendly materials for congregational and judicatory use and coaching groups to use them. She co-authors books and training materials and manages the training of Church Innovations' cadre of associated trainers. She is developing each of CI's new Six Disruptive Missional Practices to be deliverable by both in-person and online means.

For new students in the School for Formation and anyone who plans to attend School for Formation courses. Guy Drake will walk you through the mechanics of the online platform we use for our courses, as well as key practices and habits that make online learning successful.

Date: Saturday, August 1, 10am - 12:30pmGDrake

Location: Chapter House at St. Mark's Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis MN 55403

Instructor: the Rev. Guy Drake, Deacon

Bring: a laptop computer & power cord

This formation ex8674878261_75fa308cda_kperience will engage the tradition of Christian theological reflection on human action. We will explore Christian ideals of conduct, character, and community, with particular attention to their practical significance.  We will focus on the life of the church as well as the role of religion in public life. We will give special attention to the ways that Christian beliefs and practices interact with systemic social and ecological problems, particularly racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism. This course is an invitation to cultivate an ethical style.

Online: October 12 - November 30, 2015
In Person: November 7, 2015 at the ECMN Retreat Center in Faribault, MN
Cost: $225

NVY photo

Click here for registration.

Instructor: Nathaniel Van Yperen, M.Div., Ph.D. Adjunct Instructor at Saint Catherine University, United Theological Seminary, and University of St. Thomas

Course Materials: Robin Lovin, Introduction to Christian Ethics (Abingdon, 2011); Articles/Documents posted on Moodle.

Identity CallAll baptized Christians are baptized for the ministry of worship and service in Christ's Church and in the world.  In the Episcopal Church, that ministry takes many shapes, including the call to ordained ministry as bishop, priest or deacon.  This seven week on-line course, which includes a full-day face-to-face session on December 5, will focus on issues of discernment, vocation, spiritual formation, community-building and the sacramental life for people who feel called to (or are currently engaged in) lay, diaconal or priestly leadership.  Lay leaders in ECMN faith communities are especially encouraged to apply.  Format is participatory and experiential, responsive to each student's community context, with emphasis on peer learning through weekly on-line posts reflecting on shared readings and the student's own experiences of church leadership

Online: November 23 - January 18, 2015
In Person: December 5, 2015

Ferlo, Roger_web_042915 Instructor: Roger Ferlo

Roger A. Ferlo is president of the Bexley Seabury Federation and professor of biblical interpretation and the practice of ministry. Before joining Bexley Seabury in 2012, he was associate dean and director of the Institute of Christian Formation and Leadership at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he also served as professor of religion and culture. Prior to Virginia Seminary, Ferlo spent 19 years in parish ministry, serving in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New York City. He has 14 years of teaching experience at the university and seminary levels.

Required Readings: 

Book of Common Prayer

Book of Occasional Services 

Changes: Prayers and Services Honoring Rites of Passage (Church Publishing, 2007)

Enriching Our Worship 5: Liturgies and Prayers Related to Childbearing, Childbirth, and Loss (Church Publishing, 2009).

Gatta, Julia and Martin L. Smith, Go in Peace: The Art of Hearing Confessions (Morehouse, 2012).

Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, "I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing”: Resources for the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant in a Same-Sex Relationship. Liturgical Resources 1 (Church Publishing, 2012).

Additional short readings posted to Moodle.

Creeds encapsulate Christian beliefs; they also attempt to quell theological controversy. This course examines the historical origins of the Nicene and Apostles Creeds with special attention to the theological conflicts that animated their formulations. After treating the original contexts in which the creeds were developed, the course will investigate contemporary Christian attitudes toward the creeds. During the term, we will see that creeds function as brief "systematic theologies.” In other words, creeds succinctly express intricate understandings of God and God's relationship with human beings. Topics covered include Christology, Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit), Trinitarian Theology, Doctrine of Creation, Anthropology, Sin, Grace, Soteriology, Atonement, and Eschatology. It will be evident during our explorations that the creeds not only articulate what Christians believe; they also shape Christian life.

Instructor: Mark McInroy, M.Div, Th.D.   Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, University of St. Thomas