MSPM: The miracle of sharing

The previous post mentioned about the Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) being a by- product of the CPBC UNITES. The degree program is a combination of Master of Science in Social Work program and pastoral ministry courses.

Today’s post centers on MSPM experience which I always relate to the feeding of 5,000+ with few loaves of bread and fish. Although our experience pales in comparison with the miracle which is one of the only two miracles that are recorded in all four Gospels. Apart from the dominant literal multiplication of the food, I have been intrigued by the interpretation that put emphasis on the miracle of sharing. This view assumes that people who listened to Jesus brought with them little food for their own consumption. There appeared to be a scarcity because there was no sharing. Until the little boy exemplified an unselfishness act which was blessed by Jesus. Sharing began to the extent that there were surplus of food.

In the same way, we also offered whatever we have to respond to the needs of the time. Like the boy, we were not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. Such voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened, be it literal or figurative.

Bro. Andrew Escuban, then area manager of Share An Opportunity, shares  with MSPM students his knowledge on Appreciative Inquiry as strength-based approach in Strategic Planning.

Bro. Andrew Escuban, then area manager of Share An Opportunity, shares with MSPM students his knowledge on Appreciative Inquiry as strength-based approach in Strategic Planning.

When the program started in 2007, some downgraded our voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it was tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promoted. Undaunted,  we took them as a challenge to continue.

Conglomeration of events had been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for  doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

The author facilitates the MSPM reunion and planning in 2011

The author facilitates the MSPM reunion and planning in 2011

The aforementioned favorable trends sparked the idea to design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors. The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected to the board of Trustees of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) in 2006 and subsequently chaired the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns (TEMC) Committee. By divine guidance, the first document that caught my attention was the CPBC Strategic Plan for 2000-2010 which highlighted the TEMC program. Finding the missing link, I started advocating the program, trying to bridge the gap through voluntary involvement in its implementation. My wife also volunteered to teach in theological institutions in Negros to strengthen the TEMC program.

The mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services.

Rev. Joshue Salido stresses his point during an MSPM class discussion

Rev. Joshue Salido stresses his point during an MSPM class discussion

MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by volunteer faculty. Students in respective centers shoulder their transportation expenses accommodation. Certificate is issued upon completion of each subject with corresponding grade. This will be used for official enrollment in the aforementioned theological institutions. The enrollment can be done simultaneously while the students are taking up modular classes. Or may be enrolled later. Participating theological institutions are the ones granting the degree.

The program in Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries is a combination of Master of Social Work and Master of Ministry. The curriculum incorporates Ministry Core courses, Biblical Core Courses, and Socio-Pastoral Courses. Both ministry and biblical core courses include the following: Philosophical Foundations of Ministry, Ministry Assessment & Equipping Strategies, Church: Ministry & Mission, Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology, Biblical & Theological Foundations of Discipleship.

Rev. Melvin M. Mangana listens intently to the reaction of an MSPM student to his lecture during the Seminar for MSPM students sponsored by the University Outreach Center at Central Philippine University in 2011.

Rev. Melvin M. Mangana listens intently to the reaction of an MSPM student to his lecture during the Seminar for MSPM students sponsored by the University Outreach Center at Central Philippine University in 2011.

On the other hand, the Socio-Pastoral Courses consist of Socio-Behavioral Theories, Group, Community, Social Institutions and Processes, Family Wellness & Pastoral Counseling Models of Ministry and Leadership in the Church & Community, Strategies in Church and Community Mobilization, Seminar in Socio Pastoral Ministries, Social Research, Social Jurisprudence & Local Governance, Pastoral Ministry in Conflict Situations, Administration and Management of Church & related organization/institutions, Community Organization & Social Welfare and Development Services. After completion of academic courses, students have the following options as final requirement: Thesis Writing, Special Paper, or Community Project.

By sharing of resources, our pastors can earn masteral degrees without necessarily leaving their pastorate or respective work through the MSPM program. Indeed, the miracle of sharing.

__________________

This blog focuses on the Convention Baptist Ministers Association and Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. It will recall successful activities in the past, analyze and make commentaries on the trends and issues in both organizations. In this way, we can refresh ourselves, remind the current officers and guide the future leaders of our organizations of the struggles we have and the covenant to keep. We welcome comments, suggestions and even articles related to historical accounts and activities of the aforementioned organizations.

May other readers learn from our experiences and find inspiration to guide them in their respective struggles.

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About edwin lariza

University Professor. Registered Social Worker. Ordained Minister. Advocate of volunteerism, spirituality and networking for holistic development.
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