August 15, 2019
Field education is a transformative experience for Princeton Theological Seminary students. Through field education placements in the United States and abroad, seminarians are able to integrate academic learning with the practice of ministry. By testing their calls in supervised ministry settings, they gain self-awareness, develop relationships, and acquire pastoral and leadership skills.
Ann Klein Forensic Center
Jonathan Burke’s interest in prison ministry began with a class he took at Princeton Theological Seminary called “Trauma and Grace,” a course that addressed his interest in trauma studies and one-on-one counseling. When it came time to decide on his field education experience, Burke, MDiv '19, knew he wanted to work in either a prison or a psychiatric hospital. Ann Klein Forensic Center offered both.
“I knew I wanted to be involved in training to learn about how trauma affects people's lives.”
Princeton Seminary student interns bring a sense of social consciousness and compassion to their work at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), according to the organization's executive director, Janet Haag. As the county affiliate of the national organization, NAMI Mercer's mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families who are affected by mental illness through education, advocacy, and support.
“These students are the perfect people to step in and help provide mental health support and encouragement. They bring a sense of hope because of who they are.”
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
"Who would have thought that a woman born in Zambia, raised in Queens, New York, and affiliated with the Presbyterian tradition, would experience God in such a profound way at a small Lutheran church in Cape Cod,” chuckles Lydia Tembo, MDiv '19, as she reflects on the irony of the situation.
It was almost love at first sight. Tembo was drawn to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Harwich, Massachusetts, while on vacation.
“Past the narthex and into the main sanctuary there was a huge stained glass window that depicted a boat and net that was surrounded by fish. The bright colors and artistry spoke to me. To me, the church was conveying that they fish for people, like in the gospels.”
UrbanPromise Trenton (UPT) Academic Program Director Michael Lovaglio, MDiv/MA ’09, describes Princeton Seminary student interns as “vital educators” for Trenton, New Jersey youth. The students intern at UPT as part of their field education.
“It’s been eye opening, particularly for a white middle class Christian girl, to see the reality of what their lives are like on daily basis; to see kids who know nothing about the Bible, grace, and forgiveness,” says Sarah Caley, MDiv '19.
Center for Public Justice
A nonpartisan Christian think tank, the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C., has had a partnership with Princeton Seminary’s field education office for the past 20 years. “Our mission is to equip citizens, develop leaders, and shape policies to help God's transformation happen in every area of life, including in our political life,” says Chelsea Langston-Bombino.
“It was fulfilling to see my summer’s work materialize and be handed on to others in an effort to teach what I had learned and hopefully equip them to advocate for their communities,” says MDiv candidate Julia Metcalf.
Groomsport Presbyterian Church
“It is fascinating to me to consider that Ireland was one of the only places where Christianity was brought without the forced conversion of the Roman Empire. It is definitely ‘God’s country’ as the locals call it,” says Ryan Pearce, an MDiv student who spent a year in Northern Ireland on field education assignment at Groomsport Presbyterian Church. He shared photographs of his Ireland experience.
How do you minister in a community where different faiths are practiced, particularly if residents are elderly and many are facing their final days? This is both a challenge and real life experience for Princeton Theological Seminary students who intern at Monroe Village, an interfaith retirement community in Monroe, New Jersey.
“It showed me how much the elderly need pastoral care, the importance of putting more resources behind them, and how much we need to intentionally involve them in the life of the church,” says Joe Phenisee, MDiv '18.
Trenton Psychiatric Hospital
Trenton Psychiatric Hospital has just three full-time chaplains for 400 patients, so students from Princeton Theological Seminary's field education program serve as chaplains, leading worship services and spirituality groups in which patients can discuss faith-related questions. “The students are a crucial part of our programming and can offer more to our patients than we otherwise would,” says Rev. Miriam Diephouse-McMillan, MDiv ’10, BCCC, chaplain liaison for Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.
“Trenton Psych was a fantastic place to work and learn, a seminal part of my Seminary experience, and the most important thing I did at Princeton,” says Lindsay Clark, MDiv ’18.