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"Soul Care" D.Min. program turns graduate's passion into vocation

Steven Masters has always enjoyed taking care of people. In fact, he retired from a career in the United States Coast Guard and began exploring how to make caring for people his vocation in the mid-2000s. He felt called into ministry and in 2007 graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity. After serving in the local church for multiple years, Masters felt he still was not quite serving in the role to which he was called.

Wesley is one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund  apportionment. The apportionment is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

When he first learned about Wesley's Doctor of Ministry track Soul Care for Pastors, Chaplains, and Clinicians, he knew it was an opportunity he needed to explore.

"I'd known about the D.Min. program for years and years," Masters said. "But when the Soul Care track popped up, I realized that this was what I had to do. So I researched it and asked God if this was what I really needed to do and then I followed my intuition and here I am."

Masters now works as a hospital chaplain at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., where he visits and cares for people every day.

"In my job as a chaplain for hospice and for persons in the hospital, the Soul Care D.Min. track fit very well because that's what we do—care for the soul, especially for those in my line of work who are at end of life or dealing with chronic diseases," he said. "I wanted to explore how we take care of people who are beaten down by life's challenges. This track seemed to address many of the issues that I wanted to explore and that excited me to go forth and pursue it."

Masters' experience in the Doctor of Ministry program enhanced the ministry he was already engaged in within the hospital setting. He learned new skills that helped him become a better listener to a diverse range of patients and learned new information about the societal factors that impact the patients he visits daily.

Since graduation, Masters has continued in his role at the hospital and is completing the process to become a board-certified chaplain. The knowledge and experience gained in his degree program will continue to benefit his current and future ministry. He recommends the program to anyone who wants to expand their horizons and take better care of their people, he said.

"I would recommend the Soul Care track just because it is not cookie cutter," Masters said. "It really does expand your mind and thinking because it is so diverse. There are some classes I wish I could take over to spend more time with."

Wesley Theological Seminary website, Washington, DC

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.

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