Master of Divinity
What are the qualities of a good priest and pastor?
The program of ministry preparation offered at Montreal Diocesan Theological College within the ecumenical Montreal School of Theology is designed to help students develop those qualities of character that will make them effective ministers of God’s Word and sacraments, rooted in the church’s historic wisdom and able to provide innovative leadership in the face of an uncertain future.
There are four basic trajectories in our program of pastoral formation, each designed to nurture a specific set of skills and habits. We believe these skills and habits combine to define the character of an excellent priest and pastor. They are holiness, intelligence, wisdom and integrity.
Pastoral leaders not only preside at the church’s services of public worship, they also witness to the activity of the Spirit guiding, judging and renewing the spirits of God’s people. A minister who exercises this form of leadership will be a person of prayer, accustomed to waiting on God, blessing God and interceding for God’s people. This habit of prayer is sustained by a virtue which may be described as godliness or holiness. The godliness of the pastor is the capacity to give his/her spiritual feelings and aspirations as well as those of others a truly worshipful form by integrating them within a larger framework of response to God—a response that allows for an adequate expression of the church’s consciousness of God’s holiness, justice and mercy. Since pastoral leaders are responsible not only for their own piety but for the church’s, they need to be grounded in the church’s corporate prayer and informed about its development and norms. They also need to be able to ensure that different temperaments and gifts are honoured and given room for appropriate expression within the community.
A pastoral leader must be able to gather the church in
worship and equip it for mission. This work of gathering and sending
requires a leader who can proclaim the gospel of God’s grace with
confidence as well as sensitivity to the particular context. Hence
it requires someone with the skills that will enable him/her to
build upon a solid foundational knowledge of the church’s scriptures
and of its ecumenical tradition. A theologically informed priest or
pastor will know what the church has proclaimed in the past as good
news and how that good news has been celebrated and put into
practice, as well as how it has been and may be distorted. A
theologically intelligent pastor will be critically familiar with
the cultural context in which he/she lives and will have a vision of
how the church’s mission can be actualized in a way that speaks to
that culture and elicits from it the movements of grace that are
already at work within it.
Another element of the program is the cultivation of practical wisdom. Knowing how to act appropriately in a particular situation of pastoral opportunity is a virtue that is developed over time by entering intentionally into pastoral situations and reflecting critically on one’s responses. Practical wisdom is exercised on the basis of background knowledge, which is to say that while it is an informed practice, or praxis, it is not a recitation of what one knows. The relevant knowledge is acquired largely through experience. That experience will include familiarity with the church, its institutions and customs, as well as with the world ; but it will also include the learned habit of empathic listening and of intuiting the latent dynam-isms that are operative in a given situation. The pastor who has this virtue will necessarily be engaged in an ongoing work of becoming critically self-aware and thus able to differentiate her/his own needs and aspirations from those of others also implicated in the pastoral situation.
final element of the program is the cultivation of integrity. The
work of integration is necessitated by the inevitable tensions among
the various demands of ministry—tensions that may well be
intensified in a program of theological education in which they are
called into play all at once. There are the tensions between theory
and practice, between mind and heart and between practice (action)
and prayer (contemplation).
A minister who is well-informed theologically but insensitive to people or arrogant will not have a ministerial character. Similarly, a person with good people skills but no sense of how to preside liturgically will be lacking with respect to an important dimension of pastoral identity. It is important, therefore, that priests/pastors develop an awareness of their own vocational predilections and inhibitions, not only in order to hone the skills they do possess, but also to recognize where challenges may lie to their personal growth into mature Christian witness and service.
An Outline of the Programme
The M.Div. programme is integrated with the B.Th. programme of the Faculty of Religious Studies of McGill University. Students must have a first degree to be admitted to the 60-credit B.Th. programme which, combined with the In Ministry Year, amounts to a three-year course of full-time study leading to the M.Div. degree.
The M.Div. may be awarded as a first degree to a student admitted to a 90-credit B.Th. programme who fulfills all the requirements for the M.Div. and is at least 35 years of age at the time of graduation. The degree cannot be awarded to anyone who does not successfully complete the In Ministry Year; however, up to 36 credits earned at another theological college may be transferred into the programme.
The M.Div. degree is awarded by the college on the authority of the Montreal School of Theology and is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools of the U.S. and Canada.
M.Div. requirements include "satisfactory completion of college requirements in denominational studies and spiritual formation." These requirements are met by participation in college-sponsored courses and seminars, as well as in opportunities for spiritual practice and reflection.
A further requirement of the M.Div. program is "satisfactory completion of an integrative project that combines personal and theological reflection with an understanding of how the student engages in specific functions of ministry."
This requirement is met through supervised field placements and the writing of a four-part Integrative Paper over the three years of the programme.
M.Div. 1 (B.Th. 2 60-credit programme)
RELG 280 Elementary New Testament Greek (6 credits)An introduction to the grammar and syntax of NT Greek
RELG 302 Old Testament Studies 1
An introduction to the literature of ancient Israel in English translation
RELG 303 Old Testament Studies 2
Approaches to the historical-critical study of the Old Testament
RELG 311 New Testament Studies 1
An introduction to the interpretation of the New Testament
RELG 312 New Testament Studies 2
An introduction to the critical study of the Gospels.
RELG 322 The Church in History 1
A survey of major developments in the history of Christianity from the end of the apostolic age to 1500
RELG 323 The Church in History 2
Significant events and persons in the history of western Christianity from 1500-1948
RELG 333 Principles of Christian Theology 1
An introduction to the central themes of Christian theology with emphasis on the doctrine of God
RELG 341 Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
Faith and reason; theistic arguments; values and destiny; the problem of evil; religious language.
MDTC 201 Anglican Studies Seminar 1
A seminar introducing students to Anglican polity, the history and theology of the divine office, the history of liturgy, the music of the liturgy, parish administration, pastoral spirituality, preaching, themes in Anglican theology
MDTC 203 Field Placement
The student is assigned to a parish, under supervision, for a maximum of 8 hours/week during term. The supervisor writes an evaluation of the student’s work at the end of the academic year.
MDTC 205 Integrative Paper, part 1: ‘The Journey of
Faith’ This paper is normally submitted before the end
of the summer following M.Div. 1.
Students who have achieved a CGPA of 3.30 at the end of the B.Th. 2 (M.Div. 1) may apply for permission to enter the B.Th. Honours programme. They will be required to complete RELG 494/495 with a grade of B or better.
M.Div. 2 (B.Th. 3)
RELG 381 Advanced New Testament Greek
A review of grammar and syntax with an emphasis on rapid reading of texts chosen from different parts of the NT.
RELG 420 Canadian Church History
A survey of the major Christian traditions in Canada from the settlement of New France to the present.
RELG 434 Principles of Christian Theology 2
A continuation of RELG 333 with emphasis on the doctrines of Christ, Salvation and the Spirit.
RELG 470 Theological Ethics
A study of the biblical and theological foundations of Christian ethics
RELG 479 Christianity in Global Perspective
A study of the interaction of western Christianity with religious and cultural pluralism and issues of gender, ethnicity, poverty, work, environment.
RELG 482 Exegesis of the Greek New Testament
An intensive seminar in the exegesis of lectionary texts
Complementary Courses (12 credits):
One 3-credit course in a religious tradition other than Christianity, such as:
RELG 252 Hinduism and Buddhism
RELG 253 The Religions of East Asia
RELG 306 Rabbinic Judaism
RELG 352 Japanese Religions
RELG 354 Chinese Religions
One 3-credit course in Old Testament:
RELG 407 The Writings
RELG 408 The Prophets
One 3-credit course in Theology:
RELG 330 Reformed Theology
RELG 336 Contemporary Theological Issues
RELG 399 Texts of Christian Spirituality
RELG 423 Reformation Thought
One 3-credit course to be chosen from among the 300 and 400 level courses offered in the B.Th. or B.A. Religious Studies programs. For Honours students, RELG 494/495.
MDTC 302 Anglican Studies Seminar 2
The continuation of MDTC 201
MDTC 304 Field Placement
A second supervised field placement
MDTC 306 Integrative Paper, part 2: ‘The Faith of the Church’ This paper is normally submitted before the end of the summer following M.Div. 2.
M.Div. 3 (In Ministry Year)
MST 501 Theology of Ministry
Students are challenged to understand the nature of the rôle of a minister and to articulate their own identity in this rôle. In addition to lectures and discussion, students present case studies of ministerial incidents for peer discussion.
MST 511 Pastoral Care and Counselling
Students are presented with the theory of pastoral ministry and are given tools to reflect on their own pastoral practice.
MST 521 Theology of Worship
Addresses the theological meaning of communal worship, its historical and pastoral dimensions, and the specific challenges of our context.
MST 531 Principles of Preaching
A week-long intensive introduction to homiletics
MST 532 Preaching Tutorial
A practical workshop in which students present sermons-in-progress for peer and faculty critique. Includes sessions with a professional actor to work on voice and presence.
MST 533 Advanced Preaching
Deepens the student’s preaching ability by attention to specific aspects of practice, and by reflecting on the work of accomplished preachers.
MST 541 Education in the Church
A study of models of Christian education designed to help students understand their role and gifts as teachers.
MST 561 Mission/Church in Context
Students reflect on how the church relates to culture, and how to provide leadership in outreach.
MST 562 Congregational Leadership
An analysis of the structure of congregations and models of leadership. Students reflect on their own leadership.
MDTC 407 Church, Ministry and Sacraments
An introduction to Anglican approaches to the doctrine of the church, its scriptures, ministry and sacraments.
MDTC 408 Patterns in Spirituality
A study of a variety of spiritual disciplines designed to encourage students to develop practices that will nourish their relationship with God.
MDTC 409 Pastoral Liturgy
A course on how to use and preside at the offices of the prayer book and Book of Alternative Services, with special attention to the liturgical, pastoral, educational, homiletical and practical dimensions of baptisms, weddings and funerals.
MDTC 510 Field Placement
A major component of the In Ministry Year. The student spends 20 hours/week in supervised ministry. Elements of the field placement include:
(a) the supervisory session, i.e., 1.5 hours per week in intentional theological reflection with the supervisor;
(b) the lay committee, i.e., 4 or 5 parishioners who offer assistance, prayer and constructive critical feedback;
(c) the learning covenant, in which the student identifies specific learning goals for his/her work in the placement, and specific tasks to achieve those goals;
(d) assignments, i.e., a number of course assignments are of a practical nature and relate to the placement: a congregational analysis, a leadership project, an education project, regular preaching, a funeral.
MDTC 410 Integrative Paper, parts 3 and 4: ‘Theology of Ministry’
This paper is completed in the course of M.Div. 3 with a section on the functional aspects of ministry and one on the student’s theology of ministry.
MDTC 412 Intercultural Immersion
The In Ministry Year takes part in a 10-day seminar hosted by the Cuban Council of Churches. An alternative programme is designed for students unable to travel to Cuba. This immersion experience is analyzed in MST 361.
These are determined from year to year to address issues of perennial concern in the practice of ministry, e.g., conflict, gender and ministry, rural/urban context etc.
The M.Div. program
is integrated with the Bachelor of Theology program of the Faculty of Religious Studies of McGill University.
Students must have a first degree to be admitted to the 60-credit B.Th. program which, combined with the In Ministry Year, amounts to a three-year course of full-time study leading to the M.Div. degree.