John E. Senior

Director of the Art of Ministry, Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Religious Leadership, and Director of the Collaborative for Religious Leadership

Senior directs the School of Divinity’s Art of Ministry program, which includes its field education curriculum. His research and teaching focus on pastoral formation for ministry, field-based learning, ministry leadership in both ecclesial and public settings, and the role of theological education in preparing leaders for a wide variety of institutional contexts. Trained in Christian ethics and the sociology of religion, Senior is also interested in political theology and ethics and earth-centered approaches to ministry and the moral life. He is the author of A Theology of Political Vocation: Christian Life and Public Office (Baylor University Press, 2015) and is currently working on a book project on emerging patterns and practices of leadership in ministry. Senior is an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

School of Divinity faculty member John Senior



Phone: 336.758.5523

Office: Wingate 204

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AB, Bowdoin College; MDiv, Harvard Divinity School; PhD., Emory University

Religious Affiliation

Presbyterian Church (USA), Teaching Elder

Courses Taught

  • Markets, Justice, and Christian Ethics
  • Religious Leadership in Nonprofit Settings
  • Christianity and American Politics
  • Christian Ministry and Public Leadership in American Life
  • Foundations of Christian Ethics
  • Multicultural Contexts for Ministry: Christian Public Witness in Washington, D.C.
  • Justice in a Prison Society
  • Art of Ministry I: Theological Imagination: An Integrative Approach
  • Art of Ministry II: Shared Wisdom: Reflective Practice in Ministry
  • Art of Ministry III: Wisdom Work: Exploring Theological Pathways


  • A Theology of Political Vocation: Christian Life and Public Office. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2015.

Select Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Book Reviews

  • With Matthew Floding, Sung Hee Chang, and Faye Taylor, “Engaging Formational Stories and Pastoral Imagination.” Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry 39 (Summer 2019): 137-154.
  • “Discernment as Practical Wisdom: Toward a Disruptive Practical Theology of Ministry Leadership.” Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry 38 (Summer 2018): 49-63.
  • “Engaging in a Non-Profit Context,” in Engage! A Theological Education Toolkit, ed. Matthew Floding (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers), forthcoming.
  • Review of Jennifer Harvey, Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014) in Marginalia (April 23, 2016) (
  • Review of Barbara J. Blodgett and Matthew Floding, Brimming with God: Reflecting Theologically on Cases in Ministry (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015) in Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry 36 (2016).
  • Review of Kirk J. Nolan, Reformed Virtue After Barth (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014) in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology (forthcoming).
  • Review of Nicholas M. Healy, Hauerwas: A (Very) Short Introduction (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2014) in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 70:2 (April 2016): 232-233.
  • Review of Kevin J. O’Brien, An Ethics of Biodiversity: Christianity, Ecology, and the Variety of Life (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2010) in Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 31:2 (Fall/Winter 2011): 181-183.
  • “Cruciform Pilgrims: Politics Between the Ultimate and the Penultimate.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 32.1 (spring/summer 2012): 115-132.
  • “Thought on the Office of Ordinary Citizen,” Ecclesio (11 September 2012),
  • “What Is Political Civility When Politics Isn’t All Talk?”, @ This Point 7.1 (Spring 2012),

Select Academic Lectures

  • “Public Engagement: Theological Orientations.” Presentation to the “Rural Faith Communities as Anchor Institutions” conference, April 2016 and April 2018.
  • “Law’s Other Virtue: Irony as a Moral and Civic Virtue” at Annual Meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics, Chicago, IL. January 2015.
  • “Ministry Formation in Theological Education: Integrating Value Paradigms” at the Kuyers Institute’s “Virtues, Vices, and Teaching” conference, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI. October 2013.
  • Respondent, “Augustinian Thoughts for the Twenty-First Century: A Panel on the Political Theology of Charles T. Mathewes” at the Christian Scholars Conference in Nashville, TN. June 2013.
  • “Moral Formation of Elected Officials,” an invited presentation to the Symposium on American Religion, Law, and Politics (“Ethically Formed?”) of The Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Durham, NC. September 2012.
  • “Cruciform Political Agency: Politics Between the Penultimate and the Ultimate” at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics in New Orleans, LA. January 2011.

Select Sermons, Educational Series, and Church Presentations

  • “Fear in the Heart of Politics” and “A Politics of Gratitude.” Sessions in the adult Christian education series “The Political Presbyterian,” Central Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, GA, summer 2016.
  • “Leave Your Shoes at Home.” Sermon for St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, July 2016.
  • “Congregations in a Polarized Society.” Presentation to the Moravian Ministry Association, May 2016.
  • “Speaking Languages that Itch.” Sermon for Trinity Presbyterian Church, May 2016.
  • “Ambassadors of Reconciliation.” Sermon for First Baptist Highland Avenue, March 2016.
  • “Affirmation of Faith.” Sermon for Trinity Presbyterian Church, September 2015.
  • “No More Turning Away.” Sermon for Parkway Presbyterian Church, August 2015.
  • “Laying Down, Laying Bare, and Taking Up.” Sermon for New Creation Community Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC, April 2015.
  • “Forgiveness is the Air We Breath.” Sermon for Trinity Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, NC, May 2014.
  • “No Longer Strangers.” An exploration of public leadership in a theological frame. Disciples of Christ Regional Conference, Raleigh, NC, April 2014.
  • “Our Daily Bread.” Sermon for Highland Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, NC, March 2014.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Academy of Religion
  • Association for Theological Field Education
  • Society of Christian Ethics
  • Social Ethics Network