Senate officially certifies urban program

A joint venture between the department of theology and the College of Professional Studies became a new program in an academic senate meeting March 15.

The program—a certification in urban ministry—was specifically designed to meet the needs of urban pastors and church personnel.

Gloria Wiliams, chair of the Urban Faith Roundtable, brought the idea to Marquette. The roundtable, a non-denominational organization formed to bring central city pastors and religious leaders together for fellowship, enrichment and opportunities for enhancing their ministry, approached Marquette to help create the certificate to provide central city ministers and lay leaders with resources to further their theological education and leadership.

"The responsibilities of an inner city pastor are already so large and they work so hard at serving their community, the opportunities for advancing their theological education are not as prevalent," said Jeff Wilcox, a graduate student in the theology department who is the program liaison. Wilcox helps connect the Urban Faith Roundtable with the university.

The program has a combination of five theology classes through the department of Theology and four organization and leadership classes through the College of Professional Studies. Students also register through the college of Professional Studies.

Initial conversations about the program started about four and half years ago. Through the drive of Gloria Williams and the assistance of Robert Deahl, dean of the college of professional studies, and several members of the theology department, it was finally approved by the academic senate this past week.

The first session of the program is actually already underway. Since second semester of 2002, classes have been held at St. Matthew's CME Church. Pastor Daniel Fitten

The Rev. Tom Hughson, a member of the theology faculty is vice chair of the Urban Faith Roundtable and has also been involved with the creation of the program.

"If central city pastors solidify their theological knowledge, they become more effective in their ministry," said Hughson. 'If they become more effective in their ministry, the community continues to be further enriched and improved."

Wilcox said he has been involved with the program because he believes it is an excellent way to implement faith in a practical way.

"For me, good theology happens when the rubber meets the road," said Wilcox. "We can't just talk about loving each other – we have to actually love and support each other."

Hughson also said that the relationships he strengthened were a high point in working on the project.

"I came into this program with people I was collaborating on a project with," said Hughson. "Now we are becoming friends. It's great to see those links between Marquette and Central City faith community being built."