Welcome to Palmer Seminary's Theological Field Education in the West Virginia extension program. Theological Field Education is the unique seminary experience where the student's classroom study and ministry context converge. The information gained in study is put in dialogue with experiences in ministry to form effective and reflective servant leaders in the image of Christ.
There are two levels of TFE- TFE 1A & 1B and TFE 2A & 2B, available for students to complete their Seminary requirements. Students may be required to complete either one or two levels of TFE, based upon their degree program and curriculum. In West Virginia, the two courses from September to May are offered on a rotating basis. This means that TFE 1A & 1B is offered to a cohort of students in one year. These students may then continue in TFE 2A & 2B the following year. A new cohort of students would then begin TFE 1A & 1B the next year. As with all courses, a level of TFE may be delayed for the year if too few students have enrolled. TFE classes would then be delayed a year, and offered subsequently on this new rotation schedule.
The focus of TFE 1A & 1B is learning and developing the art of theological reflection. The components include working with a mentor/pastor, reading, reflection papers, and a series of TFE seminars in which conversation with other students center around case studies. The hope is that this disciplined form of reflection will become a ministry-long, life-long practice that deepens one’s identity and strengthens one's ministry.
The TFE 2A & 2B program builds on the foundation established in the first year and turns its attention to the integrating more intentionally one's theory and theology with professional skills and competency. Still working with a mentor, the student also incorporates a Site Team in the formative process of ministry. The primary ministry component is planning, implementing and evaluating as ministry project that identifies a specific area of ministry and addresses a particular aspect for personal growth.
TFE is a rewarding opportunity for bring together the pieces of learning and living in such a way that information encounters experience, and out of that rich encounter comes significant spiritual, personal and professional formation in image and service of Christ for the sake of the Body of Christ.
Dr. Dennis Johnson has been the Seminar Leader for both levels of Theological Field Education for Palmer Theological Seminary at the Parchment Valley campus since September 2005. Senior Minister at Charleston Baptist Temple since 1995, Dr. Johnson brings to this instructional task a wide variety of experiences with pastorates both in West Virginia and Illinois, as speaker at various venues, denominational involvement with the American Baptist Churches, USA, along with ecumenical and community activities. He offers special interest to Palmer students in the area of Christian spirituality and spiritual formation.
Dr. Johnson brings instructional experience as well. He has served as Adjunct Faculty for the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and as Visiting Professor of Spiritual Formation at the Korean Academy of Clinical Pastoral Education, Seoul, Korea.
Dr. Johnson earned his Bachelor's Degree from Quincy University in Illinois, and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Northern Baptist Seminary.
The following quote from Dr. Johnson indicates the high regard he has for experiential education in the context of theological education:
When I read Palmer's purpose statement for theological field education, it is that experiential component that appeals to me. I have come to believe that experiential knowledge is the most formative and transformative, and that experiential theology is the most essential and renewing for persons and congregations in Jesus Christ. It seems to me that the origins of our Christian faith and tradition are rooted in the vivid experience of Jesus of Nazareth by the first followers and that the core of the faith they passed on to us comes from their deep and profound reflection on that encounter experience of this life-changing Person. The model of experience-reflection, as expressed in the Palmer statement, is a model that I hold up for the spiritual formation of each soul and the vibrant renewal of any congregation. August, 2005
Palmer Seminary is pleased to have Dr. Dennis Johnson as Seminar Leader on our West Virginia campus in the area of Theological Field Education.