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

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.


Core Courses (6h)

  • Foundational course (3 hours): MIN 561 “Food, Faith, and Health: Navigating the Intersections in Community”
  • 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.
    • Examples:
      • MIN 560 “Field, Table, Communion”
      • MIN 597 “Roots & Branches: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship for Emerging Christian Leaders”

Elective courses (1h – 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.
    • Examples:
      • BIB 790 “Food & Faith in the World of the Hebrew Bible”
      • MIN 790 “The Monastic Impulse Old & New: Prayer, Work, and the Spirituality of Food”
      • MIN 790 “Food, Faith, and Justice”
      • HIS 630 “Culinary Culture in Black Religious Experience”

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.

Resources and Links of Interest

  • Religious leaders and schools are taking a deeper interest in being good stewards of the Earth. The School of Divinity is a leader, along with other seminaries, in offering concentrated studies that focus on core issues like food, faith, and sustainability. Read more from Takepart.com. [Posted 6.24.15]
Faith and Health of the Public

Utilizing partnerships across the university and the region (such as Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Divisions of Public Health Sciences and Faith and Health Ministries), the Faith and Health concentration equips religious leaders with skills to lead congregations and faith-fueled community organizations seeking to embody shalom and healing in community.


  • Gateway Course: MIN 561 “Food, Faith, Health, and Community” (3 hours)
  • MIN 595 A & B: Multicultural Contexts for Ministry: Nicaragua (3 hours)
  • Internship (6 hours)
    • MIN 601 A & B in setting focusing on health or
    • MIN 635 A & B, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
  • Electives: Courses focusing on faith and health (with approval of program director) or Clinical Pastoral Education (1-6 hours)
  • Capstone Project: Choose from the following (3 hours):
    • MIN 701, Art of Ministry III Integrative Project
    • MIN 702 A & B, Art of Ministry Specialized Internship (or Clinical Pastoral Education)

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]