Students at Meadville Lombard are given a unique experience to learn about ministry and spiritual leadership through the lens of real interactions with actual congregations and nonprofit
Students in our Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program are matched with a congregation for a part-time, two-year internship. The minister at the internship congregation is considered a “teaching pastor” who serves as a supervisor, mentor, coach, and model for how to be effective in Unitarian Universalist ministry. During the internship, students become involved in the congregation and “learn by doing,” exploring how to enter into the life of a congregation, how to understand its people and values and, ultimately, how to minister to its spiritual and advocacy needs.
In their first year, students in our MDiv and Master of Arts in Leadership Studies programs are paired with a teaching mentor during the Community Studies Signature Course. A teaching mentor is a community leader, lay community minister, or another religious professional who reflects with the student on what they are learning and how it connects with their work/ministry. The biggest difference between a teaching mentor and a teaching pastor is that teaching mentors do not serve in a supervisory role over a student during an internship.
Current teaching pastors and mentors are entitled to audit one Meadville Lombard class tuition-free each year (registration fees apply). For more information, please contact the Senior Director of Contextual Ministry.
Teaching mentors for a first-year Community Studies internship are asked to meet with the student for at least an hour twice a month.
Teaching pastors for an MDiv student’s two-year internship at a congregation are asked to meet with the student for at least an hour every week.
Congregational internships start right after Meadville Lombard’s Fall Ingathering at the end of August and run through the end of the church year.
Students are expected to work 20 hours per week at a congregational internship.
Teaching pastors and mentors use this time to help students integrate what they are experiencing in their community or congregational internship and what they are learning in the class with their vocational interests. The weekly topics in the syllabus can be used as a guide for conversation, and there is a list of possible discussion topics in the back of the Teaching Pastor Handbook, which is given to all new teaching pastors.
We strongly encourage that students be paid for their internship. If that is not possible, teaching pastors must be in contact with the Senior Director of Contextual Ministry to explore other options.
We do not have a standard expectation for how often times a student should preach. Students need and want as much experience as they can get. If opportunities to preach in a particular congregation are few, we encourage the teaching pastor to try to find opportunities for the student to preach elsewhere in the area.
All teaching pastors or mentors are eligible to audit one Meadville Lombard class tuition-free each year by registering as a student-at-large with the Registrar who will then provide instructions to access the course registration. Administrative fees still apply.