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Well-Being and Religious Leadership

Religious leaders today have unique and growing opportunities to impact congregations and communities by understanding the synergistic relationship between public health and faith as each is broadly defined. Public health leaders and institutions and religious leaders and institutions share much history and at least one goal:  the well-being of humans and the communities in which they live, work, and play. Religious leaders today become more effective when they cultivate a holistic view of wellness and learn strategies for helping faith communities embody this view in worship, education, mission, and other programs.

The Well-Being and Religious Leadership Program facilitates within the MDiv curriculum an interdisciplinary conversation that emphasizes care of creation, personal and communal spirituality and ethics, individual and communal health, and the common good.

Admission to a Program Concentration

The School encourages students by the end of their second full semester of study in the MDiv program to declare a concentration by submitting a proposal to the Program Director. Once the concentration proposal is approved, each student in a concentration works with her or his adviser to design an appropriate course of study for the student’s remaining semesters in the program.

Food and Faith Concentration

The Wake Forest University School of Divinity offers a concentration within the MDiv degree designed to equip religious leaders with the knowledge, skills, and pastoral habits necessary to guide congregations and other faith-based organizations into creating more redemptive food systems where God’s shalom becomes visible for a hungry world.

Curriculum

Core Courses (6h)

  • Foundational “food, faith, and religious leadership” course:    3 hours
  • Experiential course (3 hours):  A course that combines hands-on learning in organic gardening, food preparation, and preservation with scriptural/theological reflection. The purpose of such a course is to ensure that students have basic skills in growing and preparing food. The pedagogical combination of theological reflection and active creation care mirrors the holistic view of well-being that is at the heart of the concentration.

Elective courses (3h)

  • Elective courses may be taken through the existing School of Divinity curriculum in a variety of biblical, historical, theological or ministerial studies options that include an emphasis on food and faith-related topics or issues. Students must have the approval of the program director in order for an elective to count toward the concentration. Courses outside the School of Divinity can also be used for elective credits.

Internship experience (3h)

  • Students can choose to develop an Art of Ministry II or Art of Ministry III internship experience with a food and faith emphasis. Summer internships or specialized internship completed during the academic year can also count toward this requirement.

Capstone project (3h)

  • Students can focus this requirement through the current Art of Ministry III requirement by completing either a senior project or a senior internship. 

Faith and Health of the Public Concentration

The School of Divinity, in collaboration with University partners such as the School of Public Health (WFUSM) and the Faith and Health Division (WFUBMC) offers within the MDiv degree a concentration designed to promote interdisciplinary care, which recognizes and respects personal and communal spirituality and ethics as essential to well-being and quality of life.

Curriculum

Core Courses (6h)

  • Faith and the Health of the Public: 3 hours
  • Research Methods in Faith and Health:  3 hours

Internship experience (3h)

  • Students can choose to complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education or to develop an Art of Ministry II or Art of Ministry III internship experience with an emphasis on ministries that integrate faith and health. Summer internships or specialized internship completed during the academic year can also count toward this requirement.

Elective courses (3h)

  • Students can choose from pastoral care, bioethics or other courses that have a faith/health focus.

Capstone Project (3h)

  • Students can focus this requirement through the current Art of Ministry III requirement by completing either a senior project or a senior internship. 

Resources and Links of Interest

  • Video – Dr. Gary Gunderson, Professor of Faith and Health of the Public and VP of Faith and Health Ministries at Wake Forest Baptist Health, discusses a new program, FaithHealthNC, an initiative that seeks to improve health by forging covenants between faith communities and health care providers. The School of Divinity is a partner of the initiative. Students who concentrate their studies in Faith and Health of the Public may participate in FaithHealthNC’s programming efforts. [Posted 8.26.13]
     
  • Article: “It really does take a village: How Memphis is fixing healthcare” (Salon.com) – Dr. Gary Gunderson is interviewed about his previous work in Memphis in leading the development of the Congregational Health Network, a nationally-recognized effort that reduces the costs of care and improves outcomes for low-income patients. Gunderson discusses his hopes of the similar program and model he is developing in Winston-Salem. [Posted 9.9.13]