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UC’s Department of Missions and Ministry revamps for fall 2012

Williamsburg, Ky. University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) Department of Missions and Ministry faculty are working this summer to revise much of their course material for the 2012-2013 academic year.

The department changed its name from Religion to Missions and Ministry this past spring semester. Under its new name, the department will offer new majors in missions, church planting, youth and family ministry, Christian studies, and Christian ministry. The department minors now include mission and ministry, missions, church planting, and youth and family ministry.

All majors within the department require 31 credit hours (11 courses in total) and all minors require 21 credit hours or seven courses. Dr. Bob Dunston, professor and chair of the Department of Missions and Ministry, expects that the new credit requirements will allow students to major in an additional field to help prepare them for international missions or bi-vocational ministry. The department will also be adding five new courses to their curriculum as well as changing some of the courses that are already taught.

“A lot of our courses that we use to teach are going to still be taught. Those courses, we have renamed them, and we will probably be trying to update the content and approaches in those courses too,” Dunston said.

The Missions and Ministry faculty opted for these changes in order to stay abreast of the transformations that are taking place within the Christian ministry field.

“I think the new changes for us have been changes that focus much more on ministry in the 21st century. I think our focus on missions, church planting and youth and family ministry is much more up to date,” Dunston said.

Dunston also agrees that the department’s new name has become more appropriate for the department’s primary focus and educational approaches.

“I think the big reason for [the name change] was that “Religion Department” didn’t fit us very well. The folks that I know that teach in religion departments typically teach in departments where there is somebody who is an expert in Islam; somebody does Judaism, somebody does Buddhism; and somebody may do ancient religions or something like that. What we have always been doing here is trying to help people prepare to minister in a local church or to minister in missions overseas or in North America somewhere. We are trying to train people who will be Christian ministers, so we really thought that Missions and Ministry really fit us a whole lot better than ‘Religion Department,’” Dunston said.

In addition to these changes, the department will also host an additional integrated studies course in contemporary Christian music taught this fall by Dunston and Dr. Keith Semmel, professor and chair of the Department of Communication, Journalism, and Theatre Arts. The course called “Examining Contemporary Christian Music” will mostly concentrate on Christian music from the late ‘60s to the present.

“The class just branched off the series of radio shows that Dr. Semmel and I did back in the fall of 2011, when we did our show “Back to the Garden, Tracing the Roots of Contemporary Christian Music,” so it’s going to be somewhat like that. We will probably be going back to Isaac Watts, who is probably not too contemporary with us in our day in time [laughs], but then really beginning to focus on the contemporary part beginning with Larry Norman, who was kind of the father of Christian rock,” Dunston said.

Courses in the Department of Ministry and Missions will continue to be taught from a ministry and missions-based perspective.

“Even the course that we have, it’s now call Exploring World Religions, is taught from the standpoint of ‘here are other religions in the world that you need to be aware of.’ ‘Here are the beliefs that they have.’ So if [our students] go to areas where those are dominant religions, they will know how to begin talking with them, to respect their religion, but also to be able to dialogue with them and, hopefully, bring them to faith in Christ,” Dunston said.

Located in Williamsburg, KY, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; nine graduate degrees, including two doctorates, a specialist, and six master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.

Article Provided by Kristin Gotch, University of the Cumberlands Multimedia & Athletic Services Summer Assistant