Students at Meadville Lombard are given a unique experience to learn about ministry and spiritual leadership through the lens of real interaction with an actual congregation and nonprofit organization.
Students in our Master of Divinity degree program at MLTS 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, how to understand its people and values and, ultimately, how to minister to its spiritual and advocacy needs.
Meadville Lombard students—wether in Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Leadership Studies—are paired with a teaching mentor during their first year in required 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 Director of Contextual Ministry.
Teaching mentors for a first-year Community Studies internship are asked to meet with the student twice a month for at least an hour.
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 their congregational internship.
You can use this time to help the student integrate what they are experiencing in their community or congregational internship and what they are learning in the class with their vocational interests. You can use the weekly topics in the syllabus as a guide for conversation, and there is a list of possible discussion topics in the back of the Teaching Pastor Handbook, which will be given to you when you become a teaching pastor.
We strongly encourage that students be paid for their internship. If that is not possible, you must be in contact with the Director of Contextual Ministry to explore other options.
We do not have a standard expectation for how many times a student should preach. Students need and want as much experience as they can get. If opportunities to preach in your congregation are few, try to find opportunities for the student to preach elsewhere in the area.
As a teaching pastor or mentor, you are eligible to audit one Meadville Lombard class tuition-free each year. You will still be responsible for administrative fees. Please register as a student-at-large with our registrar, Lynn Penn-Hargrove, firstname.lastname@example.org. She will then give you instructions to access the course registration.