Why study for Seminary at MC?
Students from a wide variety of majors can and do attend seminary. What is most important is developing the ability to read texts carefully and analytically, think critically about concrete and abstract problems in relation to historical and social contexts, and communicate effectively both orally and in writing. You will begin to develop these skills and knowledge through Maryville College’s required core courses and further develop these forms of literacy in a number of different fields. Students interested in exploring ministry are also able to participate in worship and service activities coordinated by the Center for Campus Ministry and the Campus Minister’s office, to pursue the certificate program in ministry and church leadership, and to apply for ministry internship opportunities.
Seminaries and graduate schools in Religion do not have a required curriculum that students must complete before entering. In fact, students from a wide variety of majors can and do attend seminary. What is most important is developing the ability to read texts carefully and analytically, think critically about concrete and abstract problems in relation to historical and social contexts, and communicate effectively both orally and in writing. Though a major in Religion or Philosophy is not essential, it is important to become familiar with the Bible and central themes in Christian thought, to gain an introductory understanding of basic concepts and historical background in Western philosophy, and to become acquainted with diverse religions and cultures. Every student begins to develop these skills and knowledge through The Maryville Curriculum, MC’s required core courses. Though students can hone these skills and further develop these forms of literacy in a number of different fields, majors in the humanities (religion, philosophy, history), English literature, or the social sciences (sociology, economics, political science) are particularly recommended.
Students interested in exploring ministry are encouraged to participate in worship and service activities coordinated by the Center for Campus Ministry and the Campus Minister’s office, to pursue the Certificate program in Ministry and Church Leadership, and to apply for ministry internship opportunities.
The Career Center offers a number of avenues for investigating one’s sense of calling and the array of possible vocations that might be a good ‘fit.’ Each fall, the Campus Minister takes a group of students considering a vocation in ministry on a seminary trip where they can become acquainted with a variety of types of seminaries and divinity schools. Members of the Religion and Philosophy faculty also welcome the opportunity to support students in their exploration of possible vocations in ministry or other fields.
Maryville College Works is a comprehensive career preparation program that is integrated into the College’s four-year liberal arts curriculum. Key components include assessment, advising, networking and professional experiences.
New Providence Presbyterian Church, Maryville
Independent Presbyterian Church, Birmingham
Lilly Endowment Inc. The foundation supports Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST), a program that aims to cultivate youth leaders for the church and world by helping them discover and embrace the traditions of Christian faith, put their faith into practice, and explore important questions of our time.
Meet a current student
Zach Plants ’20
Hometown: Rome, Ga.
Zach did not originally choose the pre-seminary track but did declare a major in religion because it would introduce him to psychology, sociology and other aspects of the humanities that interested him. He has completed internships with William S. Davies Homeless Shelter & BeLonG To Youth Services in Dublin, Ireland. He participated in numerous Seminary Exploration Trips led by Campus Minister Anne McKee, which opened his eyes to career options.
“After graduating, I plan to attend seminary and pursue ordination in the United Methodist Church,” he said. “After ordination I’d like to pursue hospital or campus ministry.”
Outcomes of Recent Grads
Sam Phillips ’19
Currently: First-year student at Columbia Theological Seminary pursing a Master of Divinity degree and seeking ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Sam majored in religion and, through the Office of Church Relations and the Center for Campus Ministry, was connected to opportunities in youth ministry, social justice and advocacy work and even pulpit preaching. The Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology (MAST) program stirred in him a passion for teaching and growing theological education for younger generations. After
ordination, he hopes to form a church or community surrounded by urban gardening. “I see my future of ministry at the edge of ecological sustainability and the church,” he said, “hopefully filling the needs of this changing world – and changing climate – with the experiences and skills that MC and Columbia Theological Seminary have graced me with.”
Jordan Tarwater ’13
Currently: Executive Director of the Urban Outreach Center of New York City (UOCNYC.org) and Founding Worship Leader for Neighborhood Esperanza
A lifelong Presbyterian, Jordan majored in religion and minored in history at MC. After graduation, he enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he received his M.Div. He was ordained in February 2017, accepting a unique call as both executive director of the Urban Outreach Center of New York City (a church-based social services nonprofit that serves nearly 30,000 food-and housing-insecure New Yorkers each year) and as pastoral leadership for a new bilingual church plant, Neighborhood Esperanza.
“Maryville College taught me to imagine ministry in new and innovative forms: entrepreneurial, cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary – how most ministry and most work for justice is going to look in the future!” he said.
Emily Brewer ’09
Currently: Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF)
A lifelong Presbyterian, Emily majored in Religion at Maryville. Following graduation, she served as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer in Guatemala and Nashville and then enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She graduated in 2015 and accepted a position as Executive Director with the PPF, an organization that has been working for peace through active nonviolence for over 70 years. She was ordained Oct. 1, 2017. “Maryville College helped me think outside the box about what a life dedicated to ministry and peacemaking could look like,” she said. “It also gave me relationships with professors who nurtured and challenged me and provided a community environment in which to learn about, explore and enact a commitment to social justice.”
Graduate School/Seminary Placements
Asbury Theological Seminary
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Candler School of Theology at Emory University
Columbia Theological Seminary
Duke University Divinity School
Princeton Theological Seminary
Sewanee School of Theology
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
University of Chicago Divinity School
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary