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Free Church Ecclesiology in Ecumenical and Contemporary Perspective: the Congragationally-based Traditions
A significant sector of the Christian world holds to a vision of the church that is congregationally based. These groups, whose denominational and internal diversity is an accurate reflection of their theological commitments, are neither Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, magisterially Protestant, nor classically Pentecostal. Baptists, Congregationalists, Quakers, Mennonites, Disciples, Church of the Brethren are among those who align themselves with key convictions arising out of the radical Reformation and English separatism. This course traces the historical framework of this congregationally-based ecclesiology (in the context of recent ecumenical developments), reviews contemporary theological expressions of its vision, and explores ways these paradigms may be relevant in a post-denominational and emergent church context in North America. The course has particular application for those from or considering service in congregationally governed churches, but may be of interest for others as well.
No prior background is required for this class.
Class Participation: This course will operate on a colloquium/seminar model. Attendance and participation are crucial in a class of this type. Students are expected to keep up with assigned readings, attend all class sessions, and participate actively in discussions. More than one class absence (including absence from the medical rounds) will lower the grade for class participation. Four times during the course of the semester you will submit a reflection (maximum 500 words) arising out of one of the readings for that week. There should be some summary of what you understand to be the primary content of the reading, and also some interpretive comment—focusing on a puzzlement concerning some claim or argument in the reading, a counter argument, or an appreciative extension of the approach represented in the readings. It is expected that your reading report will be the source for comments to be shared in class. These papers will be graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Satisfactory, on time completion of these assignments, along with regular attendance and average levels of class participation will assure a class participation grade of HP+. That grade can be raised by strong participation in class discussion and/or by submitting additional reading reports (a maximum of 2 in addition to the 4 required). All reports must be submitted by the class meeting for which the relevant reading is assigned. 30% of final grade
Class leadership and discussion paper:
Each student will serve as a leader for class discussion twice in the semester (at two different class meetings). In preparation, the student will prepare a reflection paper (1000 words maximum). The paper will summarize main points, pose questions for discussion and identify one passage it the text (no longer than a paragraph) for particular discussion. This paper is to be submitted to the instructor by email, no later than 5:00 p.m. the day before the class meets. The student will receive a grade for their paper and another grade for the class discussion leadership. The two grades are averaged to give the grade for that meeting, and the same is done for the second class. The two grades are averaged to give the grade for this requirement.
30% of final grade
7500 words minimum, 10,000 words maximum. Each student will write a final paper, on a topic of their choosing relating to the ecclesiological traditions covered in the course. The topic of the paper must be approved in advance by the instructor. Papers are due May 15 (unless you are a graduating senior, in which case your paper is due by 9:00 a.m. May 8)
40% of final grade
Reading Reflection papers and class participation 30% of grade
Discussion Papers 30% of grade
Final Paper 40% of grade