Competency Based Theological Education

Competency Based Theological Education

In early November Principal Michelle Owens attended and presented at the Competency Based Theological Education Conference. Originally slated to be held in person in Florida, the conference moved online for a lively set of presentations and conversations. Integrating Year student Bri-Anne Swan also attended and participated in the Student Panel session. 

Conference attendees were a mix of educators from schools and denominations interested in Competency Based Education, and those who are already running programs. Many of the programs described were more individual-based than CCS (which has always had an emphasis on learning-in-community). Mentoring was an important component of many programs, and in listening to other schools grapple with difficulties in finding mentors or the challenges finding female ministry mentors, Michelle was struck by the generations-deep richness of the mentoring tradition in the diaconal community. (“Mentoring” in the broader conversation included the CCS roles of diaconal mentor, learning facilitator and primary staff person.)

Michelle found it refreshing to be immersed in a community of theological educators who were thinking about education the same way CCS does. Despite the broad spectrum of theological perspectives and ideals, there was collective wisdom and agreement about the need to contextually determine what competencies are needed for ministry and to build programs that hold space for students to engage in learning towards their goals. How exciting to hear other educators referring to action/reflection models of learning, and the need to integrate abstract learning into field education. 

Susan Reese from Sioux Falls Seminary in South Dakota, when talking about mentoring said, “Without relationship, there can be no transformation.” This rings very true to our experiences in the CCS learning community – that relationship grounds us and holds space for transformation to root and grow.

Michelle is grateful for the new relationships that CCS is forming within the broader Competency Based Theological Education network, so that we can continue to be an institution that not only offers transformative education, but engages in it ourselves.