Urban Ministry

The Urban Ministry Program at Wesley enables students to learn where urban, political and church mission intersect. Wesley's urban ministry students learn to engage the poor and the powerful, to meet the needs of diverse cultures, and to answer their call to dynamic, applied ministry in the complex social systems of the city. Wesley's Urban Ministry Program provides supervised study, specialized coursework, and an urban ministry field placement.

Based in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood in Washington, D.C., the program functions as a specialization within any of Wesley's master-level programs. Students should declare their intent to participate in the Urban Ministry Program prior to completing 30 credit hours of their degree program by submitting the form to the Registrar's Office.

 

How do I apply? - Interested students are encouraged to apply to the Urban Fellows program as part of their admissions process to Wesley. Urban Fellows are required to be full-time Master of Divinity students taking a minimum of 9 hours each semester. Applicants must submit an essay addressing the following questions:

  • How have you experienced a call to Urban Ministry?
  • What qualifications or experiences support your Urban Ministry calling?
  • In what type of ministry setting do you see yourself serving in the future?

Essays of no more than 1500 words must be received no later than February 1. Essays may be submitted by email to admissions@wesleyseminary.edu, by fax to attn: Admissions at (202) 885-8585 or by mail to Admissions Office, Wesley Theological Seminary, 4500 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20016. Finalists for the Urban Fellows program will be invited to interview with members of the Urban Ministry Faculty Committee.

Urban Fellows

The Urban Fellows program is one of the most exciting and unique learning opportunities in the United States.  Students from various geographical locations apply to be Urban Fellows so that they can experience an intentional learning and living community. Fellows receive hands on experience in church, non-profit, governmental and other faith-based organizations. Students are admitted to WTS and directly join their entering class Urban Fellows cohort. Urban Fellows participate in a specially designed Fellows colloquy group for three consecutive years (six semesters), participate in research projects in the public theology and urban spheres, and have access to additional resources available through the Partnership at Mount Vernon Square.

Meet the Fellows!

Lindy Bunch

Lindy Bunch is a 2nd year MDiv student who was born and raised in Columbia, SC. She graduated from Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC with a BA in History and Art History, minor in German, and a concentration in Gender Studies. After a year working as an office manager and organizing alongside community members in Upstate South Carolina, she moved to Khon Kaen, Thailand. While there, she worked for the CIEE-Thailand study abroad program as a program facilitator. It was during this time that she decided to pursue a very vague notion of social justice and Christian faith by attending seminary after having been away from the church for six years. Now, Lindy is a member of the National Cathedral Congregation and hopes to explore her call in the Episcopal Church.

Eleanor Colvin

Faith, people and the arts are the three passions that drive my life and ministry. A native Houstonian, I’m a writer, who has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, and as a theatre educator and performer. I earned a B.S. in Journalism from Texas A&M University, and a M.F.A. in Theatre from the University of Houston. From 2005-2011, it was my privilege to serve as the Director of Communications for the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, where I helped 700 churches tell their faith stories. It was in this service environment that I formally acknowledged my call to ministry.

My work as a church communicator allowed me to help rebuild homes and churches following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike; travel to Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, to establish a bi-continental partnership to improve education, health and more, and included the delivery of 1 million insecticide-treated sleeping nets to stop the spread of Malaria. And, my best birthday ever was spent constructing a home for a family of AIDS orphans in Kenya.

While I’m grateful for the array of professional opportunities to use my God-given talents for Kingdom building, I especially give thanks to my home church that first nurtured these gifts. I’m a life-long member of St. Mark’s UMC in Houston’s West End, where my church family was the first to encourage my linguistic and artist abilities. Because I was rooted and grounded in faith at St. Mark’s and have witnessed God’s grace and mercy at work worldwide, I’m convinced that nothing is impossible for God. I’m also ecstatic that God invites me to participate in God’s infinite possibilities.

Anissa Johnson

Anissa Johnson was born and raised in Baltimore City.  She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior at the age of 9, while a member of Bethel AME Church, Baltimore.    She currently serves as a minster on staff at Milford Mill United Methodist Church located in Pikesville, Maryland.  Under the leadership of Rev. Marlon Tilghman; the Chief Shepard of the church.  She has served on the ministerial staffs of Pastor Jamal Bryant of Empowerment Temple AME, Pastor Peggy Wall of St. Johns AME, and Pastor Cecil Conteen Gray of Northwood-Appold United Methodist Church.

Anissa graduated from Coppin State University with a Bachelor’s in the Social Sciences.  Currently, she is pursuing her Masters in Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Urban Ministries.  She has ministered in several different areas of ministry; serving in the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women as well ministering in the South Baltimore Homeless Shelter for 5 years.  She truly enjoys preaching and teaching the Word of God and she truly believes the Word empowers, delivers and, set the captives free!

Currently, she is employed with Walden University as an Academic Specialist.  Her dream is to continue serving the marginalized and fighting for the less fortunate.  She also believes God has ordained the church to be the keepers of the less fortunate, not the government.

Jason Smith

Jason Smith is a second year Master of Divinity student and Urban Fellow. He grew up in Costa Rica where his parents served as Baptist missionaries and is fluent in Spanish. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas in 2008 and interned with the Baptist Joint Committee and the Office of Senator Mark Pryor after college, both experiences that helped him understand the importance of policy oriented approaches to addressing pressing social needs. He has also worked as a freelance Spanish translator and served a personal attendant to a student with cerebral palsy. Jason is currently a Ministry Assistant and Director of Youth Activities at Calvary Baptist Church in DC, and puts to use his theological and practical education in his community of faith. He and his wife Myra have lived in the Parkview neighborhood since 2009 and Myra is a PhD student in Southern African History at Howard University. He has enjoyed participating in the wonderful work of the Urban Fellows, engaging in the Restorative Justice Project, and looks forward to learning more through the program.

Kayeen Thomas

R. Kayeen Thomas is an author, poet, playwright, hip-hop artist, and social justice advocate.  Ordained within the CME Church, he came to Wesley because he's convinced that he'll need a theological foundation for anything he does in life.  His novel, Antebellum, was released nationally by Simon and Schuster in July 2012, and his second novel, The Seven Days, will be released in the spring of 2013.  He is a local preacher at Israel Metropolitan CME Church.

Doug Walker

Doug Walker comes to the Urban Fellows program after having received his undergraduate degree in Theology with an emphasis in Church and Society from American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee.  Doug is a child of the great movements for justice, equality, of the past fifty years and has participated in the struggle to bring about the “Beloved Community” with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Leon H. Sullivan, and others. Doug’s work in Urban Ministry continues a legacy of such work established by other ABC alumnae including, Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Rev. C.T. Vivian, and Congressman John Lewis. “I chose Wesley because the Urban Fellows Program  offers me the opportunity to sharpen skills that I have learned through the years, to learn new ones, and to connect with both the marginalized and those in positions of power and privilege to effect substantive positive change.”

LaTaska Nelson

LaTaska Monique Nelson a native of Detroit, Michigan.  She later relocated to Flint, Michigan where she met and married Armon Chadell Nelson the year of 1989.  Armon and LaTaska Nelson are blessed to have three daughters. In 1995, LaTaska was employed with General Motors/ Flint Truck & Bus in Flint, MI.  She worked for General Motors Spring Hill, TN for 12 years. LaTaska casually worked as a negotiator with Local 1853. She was licensed in 2001 as an Evangelist/Missionary in the Church of God in Christ.  She is a Graduate of American Baptist College Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies/Church and Society. While at the American Baptist College, she was selected out of 295 persons to intern with Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C through the Generation Change program designed to train students to become Community Organizers.  She served as the President of the Student Government Association (SGA). LaTaska Nelson has worked diligently in the church as well as the community.  She is an anointed preacher and teacher.  She enjoys miming, writing and spending time with her family.  Favorite Scripture: James 1:2-4   “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into diver’s temptation, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Irance' Reddix

Irance’ Reddix is a family physician practicing for 22 years, the last eight in Baltimore, MD. Irance’ graduated from MIT in Chemical Engineering. She earned her M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine, and did her residency at Baylor Family Medicine. Irance’  has been involved in  local ministry for the last 15 years, concentrating on physical, mental, and spiritual balance and teaching with several universities. She has a passion for insuring that everyone has not only access to quality healthcare, but that everyone understands that wellness is not just the absence of disease. Irance’  is looking forward to learning and working with the Urban Fellows program as they attempt to change the culture of healthcare.

Jazmine Steele

Jazmine Steele is a community journalist from Detroit, Michigan. She received a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations at Grand Valley State in 2007. Her work has appeared in the Michigan Citizen Newspaper, Tom Joyner’s Black America Web and AOL.com’s Black Voices. She is interested in the role of media in urban faith communities and has dedicated her vocation to using media to restore urban areas.

Program Design

Core courses: Wesley's Urban Ministry Program allows Master's degree candidates to access supervised study, specialized coursework, and an urban ministry field placement. All courses are available in evening sections on a consistent basis. Required core coursework includes:

  • CM-230 and CM-231 Introduction to Urban Ministry 1 & 2
  • ES-251 Sociology of Religion
  • PC-111 Pastoral Care and Counseling in Context

Electives: UMP students must complete 9 additional credit hours from the urban ministry curriculum as electives. Some of these elective offerings include:

  • CF-230 Christian Education and the Black Religious Experience
  • CF-239 Children and Poverty
  • ES-234 Sexual Issues in Parish Ministry
  • ES-265 Urban Ministry: Church and Community Settings

The Practice in Ministry and Mission Office will work with Urban Ministry students to secure placement in a setting that offers a chance to interact with specific populations of the inner-city or other areas desirous of social justice and theology in the public sphere. All field placement settings include mentoring, spiritual formation and missional service along with the classroom learning and peer colloquy experience you will gain at the Seminary.

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