Higher Learning. Real Experience. Vital Ministry.

Course Descriptions

Thursday/Friday Two-Day Courses
Choose one workshop below that will meet Thursday (2:45–5:30 p.m.) and Friday (9:00–11:45 a.m. and 2:00–4:45 p.m.)

T/F-1 Disturbing Texts in the New Testament
Sze-kar WanSze-kar Wan 
Professor of New Testament

This course examines principal texts in the New Testament that challenge our modern secular assumptions about whether and how Christianity should or should not engage social and political institutions. We will examine, among others, the so-called Nazareth Manifesto in Luke 4, the “God and Caesar” controversy between Jesus and his opponents, and Paul’s unsettling text of “submission to authorities” in Romans 13.

Suggested Reading: Please check back for suggested reading. 


T/F-2 Modern Science and Process Theology
Theodore Walker, Jr.Theodore Walker, Jr. 
Associate Professor of Ethics and Society

This class will engage modern science, especially evolutionary biology, from a theological perspective favored by many Wesleyans: process theology.

Suggested Readings: Chapter 2 – “The Physical and the Spiritual,” and Chapter 3 – “Creation through Evolution,” in Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes by Charles Hartshorne; Chapter 2 – “From Paley to Darwin: Design to Natural Selection” by Francisco J. Ayala, and Chapter 14 – “Organisms as Agents in Evolution” by John B. Cobb Jr., both in Back to Darwin: A Richer Account of Evolution.

T/F-3 The Gospel of Luke: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” Now?
Abraham SmithAbraham Smith 
Professor of New Testament

The Gospel of Luke has characters (dramatic actors) and it also builds character (essential values for living). This course will examine how Luke builds the latter through the former. The course will examine: 1) Luke’s overall plot; 2) ancient narratives’ use of dining and hospitality scenes to portray characters negatively or positively; 3) Luke’s multiple dining and hospitality scenes; and 4) Luke’s rhetorical goals, including that of building the character (virtues) of its readers and auditors as they observe hosts behaving badly or favorably in the Gospel’s story.

Suggested Readings: The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke’s Gospel by Brendan Byrne and Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel by Robert J. Karris. Students should also read the Gospel of Luke in one sitting and bring to the course a copy of the Gospel, preferably the NRSV.

T/F-4 Ministry Lessons in Popular Culture
Michael Baughman
Community Curator, the Union coffee house (A ministry of the North Texas Annual Conference UMC)

When Paul wandered the city of Athens, he looked for signs of what God was doing in the culture to learn about Athenians and discern how to share the Gospel with them. In this course, we will wander through the “Athens” of Social Media, Business, Fitness Culture, Sororities and Video Games to learn lessons about how the church can better be in ministry with our world.

Suggested Readings: Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church by Kenda Dean; True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business by Ty Montague; Church in the Inventive Age by Doug Pagitt.


Saturday One-Day Courses
Choose one workshop below that will meet Saturday (9:00–11:45 a.m. and 2:30–5:15 p.m.)

S-1 Main Line Decline: Dealing with Rumors of Our Death
Image of Ted A. Campbell, Associate Professor of Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University (2012)Ted A. Campbell 
Associate Professor of Church History

It’s a bummer to wake up in the morning and realize you’re dead, but that’s the way it’s felt in the United States for the last four decades with folks in “mainline” Protestant churches. This workshop will re-examine persistent claims about the decline of mainline religion in the USA, will consider the extent of truth in these claims, and will also consider some of the less-well-recognized strengths of old-line Christian groups in the USA.

Suggested Reading: Mainline Decline, Decline-Talk, and Decline-ism by Martin E. Marty.

S-2 Nurturing Vibrant Faith: Exploring Spiritual Disciplines as a Way of Life
Tonya Y. Burton 
Director, Youth Ministry Education and Faith Calls

Throughout the history of the church the desire for a more intimate relationship with God and community has been linked to intentional practices and experiences that create sacred spaces for people to open their lives to God. These intentional practices are known as the spiritual disciplines. This course will explore the inner and outward disciplines of spiritual formation.

Suggested Readings: Celebration of Disciplines: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster and An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor.

S-3 Timeless Task: The Imitation of Christ
William J. BryanW. J. Bryan, III 
Director, Intern Program or Professor of Supervised Ministry

After the Bible, The Imitation of Christ by an unsuccessfully anonymous monk is the bestselling Christian book in history. Its timeless teachings have humbled the mighty and made mighty the humble. We will explore the story of this classic volume and our contemporary devotional task.

Suggested Reading: Buy a copy of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. A prize will be given for the shopper who pays the least for a copy. Read any 20 pages before class.