Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context

A professional degree for religious leaders who serve across faith boundaries

Increasingly, faith communities in America need religious leaders who can reach across lines of faith. Yet historically, institutions that train religious leaders have given little attention to teaching about other faiths or to giving future religious leaders the practical skills necessary to work effectively in a multifaith context. The Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context fills this gap.

This degree program is designed for working religious leaders from diverse faith backgrounds.  Candidates examine in depth the professional and theological issues that arise when religious leaders reach across lines of faith to carry out their ministry.  The program is not designed as a world religions survey course.  Rather, the program challenges candidates to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to work effectively in a multifaith context.  Candidates engage each other in four major seminars and then carry out a demonstration project - the professional equivalent of a thesis - in an area of ministry about which they are passionate. 

The Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context was launched in 2005 as a partnership between New York Theological Seminary and the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary.  The degree is overseen and granted by New York Theological Seminary.  Auburn faculty assist in the design of the program and teach one of the core seminars.

Three-Year Curriculum
The Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context program is designed to be completed over the course of three years.  Year 1 features three seminars:

The Critical Interpretation Seminar develops, enhances, expands, and strengthens the capacity for close reading, analysis, and reflection (individually and as a group), which is thoroughly informed by multifaith awareness. Using a broad range of sources, students consider their approach to sacred texts and the encounter of their own worldview with those of others, especially in relation to the structures and processes of racism, sexism, classism, and ecological unsustainability - the goal being a hermeneutics adequate to the present-day ministerial context.

The Religious Leadership in a Mulitfaith World Seminar recognizes that many clergy begin to build their multifaith knowledge base and learn multifaith skills in the field. This seminar is designed to enhance and accelerate that learning by pushing candidates to learn more about what is going on 'out there,' to analyze and reflect on those experiences, and to assist candidates to imagine how their religious leadership could be shaped by a multifaith lens.

The Mentor and Research Development Seminar assists students to develop and work with their respective site teams, which advise candidates as they carry out their demonstration project. The site team assesses the ministry needs and possibilities and the competencies of the student. Out of these assessments will emerge the proposal for action and research that will further the mission and strengthen selected competencies of the student.

In Year 2, candidates complete a final seminar (a continuation of Mentor and Research Development) and carry out their demonstration project in the field.  In Year 3, candidates complete the written review of their demonstration project.

Intensive Format
The format of the program is designed to accommodate the busy schedules of religious leaders who are working full time.  The residential requirements of the program include four one-week-long seminars, three of which take place in the first year (October, February and June) and one of which takes place in the fall of the second year.  In addition, during the first year, the four seminars require significant academic and field work in between the intensive in-class seminars.  A substantial online educational system supports all aspects of learning.  

After the fall week-long intensive in year two, the second and third year are largely taken up by independent work on the demonstration project and do not have further residential requirements.  Candidates do not need to be based in the New York region in order to complete the degree if they can commit to the four one-week-long residential seminars and complete the substantial academic and field work of the required seminars.  Affordable housing options are available to candidates.

The Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context degree program is open to ordained clergy and other religious leaders.  Candidates should have a minimum of three years of post-graduate experience in religious leadership.  

Core Faculty
Rabbi Justus N. Baird, Director, Center for Multifaith Education, Auburn Theological Seminary
The Rev. Dr. Dale Irvin, President, New York Theological Seminary
The Rev. Dr. Wanda Lundy, New York Theological Seminary

Demonstration Project
A major component of the Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context degree is a demonstration project (field equivalent of a thesis) that is designed, carried out and written about by the candidate.  Candidates are encouraged to work on projects about which they are passionate.  Projects by candidates are wide-ranging and have included spiritual direction in an interfaith setting, exploring the connections between African traditional religions and the American Black church, building a media-based outreach ministry, and end-of-life care in a multfaith context.

Diverse Participants
Candidates have included religious leaders from a wide range of faith communities, including evangelical and liberal Christians from the widest array of denominations and contexts, rabbis, Muslim and Buddhist religious leaders.

About the Sponsoring Institutions
New York Theological Seminary was founded in 1901 as an interdenominational center for biblical and pastoral training.  Since 1970, New York Theological Seminary has been recognized as a leader in theological education for urban ministry, and increasingly in world Christianity.  The formal accreditation for the Doctor of Ministry in a Multifaith Context degree is granted through New York Theological Seminary.  For more information, visit the New York Theological Seminary Web site.

Auburn Theological Seminary, founded in 1818, was one of the first institutions in the United States to focus on continuing education for clergy and other religious leaders.  Auburn's Center for Multifaith Education, established in 2000, has become a leader in the field of multifaith education and interreligious studies.  The Center for Multifaith Education runs educational programs for seminary faculty, religious leaders, seminary students, professionals, and teenagers.  See the Center's educational programs for more information.

For Additional Information
Contact Dr. Wanda Lundy, Director of Doctor of Ministry Programs, New York Theological Seminary at (212) 870-1239 or at