Petition Process for an
Alternative Cross-Cultural Ministry Experience
Course Description for Cross-Cultural Experiences
CC1610 - CC1650 (.5 credit)
A two to three-week supervised immersion experience in an unfamiliar ethnic or socio-economic community. Small groups of students participate in congregational life, explore neighborhoods, engage in dialogue, and live (where possible) with people/families in the cultural setting. The experience is designed to help students gain self-knowledge as well as cross-cultural understanding, explore and reflect on theological themes while reflecting on implications for ministry, and learn basic values and sensitivities in order to develop effective cross-cultural ministry in a diverse and multicultural world.
Alternative Cross-Cultural Experiences
On rare occasions, alternative Cross-Cultural Experiences not sponsored by the Cross-Cultural office or listed in the seminary catalog may be considered by the Cross-Cultural staff on a case-by-case basis. The steps in this process are:
- Examine the information below and see if the alternative that you have in mind will fulfill the criteria and stipulations for this curriculum requirement.
- If you think your experience fulfills essential requirements, please contact and visit with the Director of Cross-Cultural Education for consultation and further information on how to proceed.
- You will be asked to fill out a petition form online (at the end of this document) for your alternative proposal and send it to the Director. After the Director receives your petition, you may be invited to revise or clarify you petition before it is forwarded to the Cross-Cultural Staff.
- The Cross-Cultural Work Group will vote on your proposal and you will be notified of the decision. The Work Group meets in September and October and again in March and April.
- If your petition is approved, the Director will then work with you to fill out an Independent Study form available from the Registrar's Office and make assignments for Pre-departure training and written work for your alternative experience.
- You will complete the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). A logon ID and password will be e-mailed to you once your alternate petition has been approved.
- You will be required to attend a Pre-Departure Training. DL students please consult the CCE office for long-distance options.
- If your petition is approved, you must submit the following information to the CCE office; this is required because you are fulfilling a Luther Seminary core requirement. You must complete and sign the Release Agreement and turn it in to the Cross-Cultural Studies office. You will also have to submit a copy of your itinerary, including emergency contact information and a local contact person, to the CCE office. If you are traveling internationally, you will have to give the CCE office a copy of your passport.
- After your experience is completed, you will need to debrief your experience with the Director.
Deadline for your Petition
The deadline for submitting petitions for January-Term alternative Cross-Cultural Experiences is October 1. Petitions received after this date will not be considered until March of the following year.
The deadline for submitting petitions for summer alternative Cross-Cultural Experiences is March 15. Petitions received after this date will not be considered until September of that year. For Summer 2013 - petition deadline is extended to Sunday, March 24, 2013.
Unsuitable Sites, Petitions, and/or CC Experiences
The following plans for an alternative Cross-Cultural Experiences WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED by the Cross-Cultural staff for fulfilling the curriculum requirement:
- Any site or context that is culturally familiar to the student
- Any length of stay on a cultural site that is less than 14 days
- Any site where there is no cross-cultural ministry being done
- Any site where there is no engagement with local people or leaders in the context
- Seminary internship sites
- Experiences where you lead or manage "mission trips" or work experiences for others
- Experiences where there is no local contextual supervision or leadership by those doing ministry in the designated context
- Any site where there are no plans or commitment for consistent and regular theological reflection during the experience
- For previously completed cross-cultural experiences at any site, please see #9 in the next section
Essential Requirements for Alternative and Waiver of Cross-Cultural Experiences
Since the M.Div. curriculum is focused on Christian ministry, cross-cultural experiences are to be focused on mission and ministry concerns, knowledge, and skills in the unfamiliar culture. While it is essential to learn about the content of an unfamiliar culture, the focus of any Cross-cultural Experience course is to learn about implications for mission and ministry in the culture and context visited.
- The alternative experience must be completed in a cultural context different from a student's formative culture or any with which the student is familiar.
- The experience ONSITE must be AT LEAST two weeks (14 days) in length, in a ministry context where the student lives, studies, reflects, worships, and engages with people of that different cultural context.
- The experience must be done under supervision or leadership of a member of the Luther Seminary faculty, or designated adjunct faculty, or knowledgeable pastor at the site.
- The focus of the alternative experience must be on learning and experiencing mission and ministry in an unfamiliar culture. Leadership and/or management of "mission trips," work groups, or group immersion experiences for others do not satisfy this requirement.
- The experience must provide for substantial theological reflection on mission and ministry in the culture visited with a group of students or theologically educated individuals under the supervision of a faculty member, designated adjunct faculty, or knowledgeable pastor. Group reflection sessions need to happen at least 2 or 3 times each week. The petition must state the names of people with whom this reflection will be done.
- Students must participate in a Pre-departure Training Session.
- Students must participate in a Debriefing Session after the completion of their Cross-Cultural Experience.
- A written assignment will be given to each student before departure.
- For cross-cultural experiences or ministry that was completed before this point in your seminary career, you will need to consider a different kind of petition called a "waiver." This process waives your participation in a Luther Seminary sponsored CC Experience. If your waiver is approved, you will then need to choose a different .5 credit course of your choice to fill out the M. Div. 30 credit graduation requirement. Most of the criteria for previously completed experiences apply, but there are certain circumstances that might be appropriate for a petition of waiver.
Sites and Populations Envisioned for Cross-Cultural Experiences
The CL staff envisions that the sites for cross-cultural experiences should be in unfamiliar ethnic or socio-economic communities. Students must choose a site that is culturally unfamiliar to them. The sites may be rural, urban, or international which will engage students with people who are culturally different from them in race, ethnicity, or economic class. Both different geographical contexts and different populations are important factors in site choices. The overall goal is to nurture a cross-cultural sensitivity that will be useful to you in your future mission and ministry.
Criteria for All Cross-Cultural Experiences
A. General Criteria
- The experience is to be an immersion in a context of ministry situated in an unfamiliar culture. Students are to interact with people from the culture visited.
- Where possible and acceptable in the culture visited, students are to live in the homes of people of the selected culture for at least 30 to 50% of the time and longer if feasible.
B. Criteria for Content
- The values and value systems of the culture are to be presented and explored, particularly as they relate to issues of religious life and ministry in the culture visited.
- Theological themes of grace, faith, sin, law and gospel, forgiveness, justice, evil, suffering, alienation, justification, etc. are to be explored.
- Special attention is to be given to the congregational life and worship of the locale visited.
- Issues of racism, classism, colonialism, and discrimination, as they relate to the culture visited, are to be considered.
- Issues of outreach and evangelism are to be explored as students seek to determine the meaning and shape of ministry in this unfamiliar cultural context.
C. Criteria for Pedagogy
- While someone else may coordinate the experience on site, a faculty member or designated adjunct faculty or pastor on site shall normally participate in each experience and facilitate the theological reflection of the group. This person must exercise oversight for the experience.
- Preparatory reading assignments will be made when appropriate.
- Diverse and opposing points of view by presenters within the culture are strongly encouraged.
- In addition to the periodic opportunities built into the experience for theological discussion or reflection, a paper or written project is assigned by the Cross-Cultural Director, designated faculty, or adjunct.
One of the major tasks of theological education is not only to know the gospel, but also to provide the opportunity for interpreting the culture in which the gospel is to be confessed. Participation in a cross-cultural experience encourages students to take the risk of "being out of control" and encountering a very pluralistic and diverse world as the context for ministry so that they might better learn essential cross-cultural skills for confessing the Christian faith and engaging in effective mission and ministry.
Put another way, the purpose of this experience is to prompt students to ask: "What does the gospel look like in this particular cultural context?" "How might I be faithful to and articulate the gospel in this setting and begin to think about effective ministry?"
- God creates a world in which there are diverse realities of culture, values, beliefs, and patterns of behavior, world views, and religious expression. (Genesis and Acts)
- God's people are called to live and serve in a multicultural world. (Acts 2)
- Differences are to be respected and shared with one another. (I Cor. 12)
- While "Reconciliation" and "New Creation" are common themes, the Gospel does not lead us to be culturally the same. (II Cor. 5:16-20)
5. All cultural views are to be examined in the light of the Gospel. (Acts 10 & 11)
- No one culture can claim superiority in God's created world.
- In response to God's creation of a diverse world, Christians are called to live in and participate in God's mission (missio Dei) in this multicultural world.
- Our common humanity is centered in the activity of God, not in our cultural identity; however, cultural differences can enrich any community and opportunities for mission and ministry.
A. Deepened Attitudes of Openness and Learning:
- Student will develop a growing willingness to listen to and explore the unfamiliar cultural context as well as have one's own Christian life and theology questioned by Christians of other cultures.
- Student will develop appreciation for different articulations and manifestations of the Christian faith.
- Student will develop curiosity about theology as expressed in other cultural contexts.
- Student will develop a willingness to reassess one's own understanding of Christian mission and ministry in a different cultural context.
B. Increased Knowledge:
- Student will develop a basic awareness of the meaning of the concepts of "culture," and "subjective culture" in a particular context.
- Student will learn how history of the context has shaped the present ministry.
- Student will come to a basic understanding of how effective ministry is practiced by a Christian community in a particular cultural context and learn some of the contributions of visited culture to the church.
- Student will develop a general understanding of how cultural sensitivity might be developed in an unfamiliar context.
- Student will develop a basic understanding of how institutional and systemic dimensions of racism and other forms of oppression (such as classism, sexism, and colonialism) are barriers to effective mission and ministry.
- Student will learn how to better deal with ethnocentrism and evaluate patterns of different behavioral patterns within the context of the visited culture.
C. Increased Development of Skills
- Student will learn how to develop relationships with people of another culture and participate in cross-cultural conversations.
- Student will develop the ability to listen with a sensitive ear to different values, perceptions, and world views.
- Student will be able to identify and describe major differences of an unfamiliar culture.
- Student will be able to identify, describe, and evaluate central values or value systems operative in a culture that is different from one's own.
- Student will be able to explore and articulate major theological themes, issues, and concerns of a culture different from one's own and reflect on the implications for Christian mission and ministry.
PLEASE NOTE: Students who are approved for an alternative Cross-Cultural Experience will be responsible for paying the total cost of their experience.
View the Petition for an Alternative Cross-Cultural Experience.