MC Initiative on Vocation List of Programs

  • Diagnostic Testing for Freshmen - We believe that it is essential to start equipping students for a process of vocational exploration right away at the beginning of their freshman year. Yet, the concept of vocation entails not only a sense of calling and responsibility to contribute to the divine and common good, it also requires discernment of one's own particular interests, gifts, and talents. With this in mind, we will require all freshmen to take two or three selected diagnostic inventories (assessing personal and vocational interests, leadership and personal qualities, etc.) during the middle part of their first year before choosing their major in the spring.
  • Advisor/Mentor Retreats - The mentoring and advising relationship is perhaps the most natural and effective context in which to engage students in deep and ongoing reflection about the connection between their faith, their values, and their future lives and work. Building on this important relationship, the Initiative will sponsor a series of annual afternoon or evening retreats at the House in the Woods for faculty advisors and their own group of advisees and "mentorees" (approximately 5-25 students each).
  • Faculty Workshops on Diagnostic Inventory Interpretation and Advising and Mentoring - Proper training and preparation are essential for the success of any endeavor. This is especially true when it comes to the important and delicate task of informing and influencing the lives of young people as they seek to identify their path in life. To ensure this proper training and preparation, we will offer a series of workshops for faculty to deepen their attention to questions of faith and vocation in the curriculum, to assist them in their role as advisors and mentors, and to equip them to properly understand and interpret the results of the diagnostic inventories.
  • Workshop for Parents - There is potentially no greater ally for or barrier to engaging a student in serious reflection about vocation and the common good than the student's own parents. In order to educate parents about the meaning of vocation, about why we think it is important, about the journey of exploration that we will attempt to lead their sons and daughters on, and about the diagnostic tools that we will be using as part of that journey, we will offer a series of parent workshops during Family Week in the fall semester.
  • Isaac Anderson Fellowships for Church Leadership - In the spirit of our founder, Isaac Anderson, who started Maryville College in 1819 as a result of a lack of church leaders in the Southwest Territory, the Initiative will offer two premier fellowships of $16,500 each per year to attract and educated outstanding students who show interest in and promise for leadership in the church. To apply, students must demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities and have maintained at least a 3.5 GPA in high school and scored at least a 1200 on the SAT or a 27 on the ACT.
  • Advocates for Ministry Dinners - One of the most effective ways of exposing young people to the concept of calling is through the power of example and through the personal stories of people's own lives. We believe this is especially true in the case of ministry, since most young people have relatively little one-on-one interaction with pastors and scare knowledge of what they actually do. Hence, the Initiative will bring to campus dynamic and quality ministers and create formal and informal opportunities in which students can hear about their lives and work. One way we will do this is through a series of annual Advocates for Ministry Dinners. These dinners, held during the fall semester, will provide approximately 20 faculty-recommended students per year with the opportunity to spend an evening having dinner with two outstanding ministers who can vividly and engagingly describe the rewards and realities of a life devoted to ministry.
  • Ministers in Residence Program - Following up on the Advocates for Ministry Dinner each fall, the Initiative will bring dynamic and quality ministers to campus each spring for a more sustained set of conversations with students. Selected clergy (2 per year) will be invited to come to campus for a week or more each year of their continuing education, sabbatical, or direct leave time to engage in a series of arranged and informal conversations with approximated 10-20 students. Such interaction will give students a more in-depth exposure to the concrete calling of the ministry.
  • Summer Church Internships - Not only is it imperative to offer students reflective opportunities to contemplate a possible call to ordained or lay ministry, it is also important to provide them with practical opportunities to see and experience ministry up-close. Hence, the Initiative will offer 2 full-time summer internships in a parish or other appropriate ministry setting for students who are not Anderson Fellows.
  • Lilly Summer Internships - In the process of discerning one's calling, there is ultimately no substitute for hands-on experience. By doing, one begins to discover what activities or forms of work are or are not sources of "deep gladness." Furthermore, by actively reflecting on that doing, one begins to clarify not only whether a particular type of work is a genuine source of fulfillment, but also whether and how that work serves the real needs of the world. Given the importance of both doing and reflecting as part of the process of vocational discernment, the Initiative will offer up to ten internships each summer enabling Maryville students to get first-hand experience in quality professional, non-profit, or corporate work settings.
  • Student Retreat for Vocational and Spiritual Discernment - Following up on the Advocate Dinners and Ministers in Residence Program, the Initiative will offer interested students a guided and reflective opportunity to explore and contemplate a possible call to ordained or lay ministry. This annual day-long retreat at the House in the Woods will be devoted to contemplation and discernment of a possible call to ministry and will involve prayer, discussion, and spiritual exercises of various sorts.
  • Community Service and Professional Meetings - We believe that the act of performing community service or the experience of attending a professional meeting or conference in one's field of interest can often provide a revelatory moment in one's journey of vocational discernment. Therefore, the Initiative will fund approximately 15 students per year to participate in a service project or professional meeting or conference related to their area of interest.
  • Vocation Dinner - The power of story is well attested. This is particularly true when it comes to students listening to the life stories of older adults and how their various choices and attitudes have shaped who they are and what they do. Thus, the Initiative will host two Vocation Dinners per year (one per semester) in which a feature speaker tells students the particular story of his or her own life and sense of calling.
  • Theological Education Day - In order to elevate the visibility of theological and seminary education in general and in order to facilitate the exploration of interested students in particular, the Initiative will host an annual Theological Education Day. A group of seminaries and divinity schools representing the PCUSA and other denominations will be invited to send admissions representatives to the college on a common day to set up displays and meet with interested students. In the evening, we will host a dinner for approximately 30 interested students, faculty, and seminary representatives.
  • Summer Retreats for Church Youth - In order to introduce teens to the notion of vocation as it relates to the life of Christian faith and, in particular, to introduce them to a possible call to ministry, the Initiative will host an annual summer youth retreat devoted to "Faith, Leadership, and Vocation." The week-long retreat will be held at the House in the Woods and will involve approximately 25 youth plus their youth or senior pastors.
  • Seminary and Divinity School Visits - Following up on Theological Education Day and other exploratory opportunities, the Initiative will sponsor and annual trip for interested students to visit selected seminaries and divinity schools. Such an opportunity will give them valuable first-hand knowledge of potential schools as they contemplate and/or plan their post-college theological studies. These trips, led by the Campus Minister, will take approximately 5 interested students each year to a selected group of seminaries and divinity schools.
  • Workshop for Pastors - In order to further educate pastors on issues of faith, leadership and vocation so that they can more effectively nurture a sense of vocation among their own congregants, the Initiative will sponsor an annual one-day workshop. This annual workshop will be held at the House in the Woods and will involve approximately 20 pastors per year.
  • Alumni Retreat for Vocational and Spiritual Discernment - Like the annual day-retreat for Maryville College students, a similar retreat will be held for recent Maryville alumni and young adults from local churches. This annual day-long retreat will be held at the House in the Woods and will be devoted to assisting recent alumni and young adults to reflect on and contemplate their vocational callings, especially as they relate to a possible call to ordained or lay ministry.