As a degree designed to equip persons for competent leadership in some form of specialized ministry in congregational or other settings, the M.A. in Church Ministries (MACM) necessarily has as its chief goal the preparation of ministers, particularly lay ministers.
Spiritual growth within the MACM program takes place largely as a result of a student’s own initiatives in this area, aided by certain structures within the program itself. Spiritual growth takes place in five arenas within the program: (1) classes in general; (2) classes in spirituality and related areas; (3) the Ministry-in-Context experience; (4) a guided spiritual experience lasting at least one academic year (see below); and (5) participation in at least one relevant conference, retreat, or similar experience per year while matriculated in the program.
The last two components require approval by the Director of the MACM program. The one-year experience may be fulfilled by participation in a denominationally based ministry-preparation program or involvement in some other form of spiritual-growth process outside St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute. The latter might include (a) individual or group spiritual direction or spiritual companioning or (b) participation in a church-sponsored prayer and study cell, covenant discipleship group, small Christian community, or other small group. The focus, duration, and location of the annual experience are at the discretion of the student, subject to the approval of his or her advisor and the program director. The retreat or conference must be relevant to the student’s personal, spiritual, and/or ministerial growth.