Contextual Education


PLUM Groups

Preparing for Local Ministries (PLUM) is a two-semester sequence of courses (CTX 301-302) that functions as the introduction to Contextual Education in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) curriculum. PLUM provides an opportunity that is unique in the Saint Paul curriculum: students are together in the same group and with the same experienced practitioner of ministry for two consecutive semesters.

Plum groups:

  • Required for MDiv & MACM students
  • Small group reflection on ministry and seminary
  • Led by an experienced practitioner of ministry
  • Two semesters with the same group and leader
  • Site visits to congregations and social ministries
  • In-depth case studies
  • Ministry setting required: 4 hours per week, paid or volunteer, beginning October 1
  • Assistance in identifying a ministry setting available through the Contextual Ed office

Ministry Collaboration Groups

Ministry Collaboration Groups are a place where students reflect on experience in life and ministry in small groups facilitated by a faculty member.

Ministry Collaboration Groups allow students to engage:

  • Identity and role in ministry
  • Practices of ministry
  • The Church and its mission
  • Constructive participation in small groups

Three Ministry Collaboration Groups are required for MDiv students; one for MACM students.

  • Small group theological reflection
  • Led by a regular or adjunct faculty member
  • May include case studies, learning goals, written assignments, short readings, self-reflection, and self-evaluation
  • Ministry setting required: 4 hours per week, paid or volunteer, in place at the start of the semester
  • Assistance in identifying a ministry setting available through the Contextual Ed office
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Ministry Settings

All students enrolled in a Plum group or Ministry Collaboration Group serve in an approved ministry setting for a minimum of four hours per week. The ministry setting may be paid or volunteer.

  • Information on open part-time positions is available in the Contextual Education Office. These typically include pastoral, youth, children, and Christian education positions. The Contextual Education office sends notices out via e-mail when new positions arrive. For information on current opportunities e-mail David Firman at
  • Employment or appointment as a part-time pastor of a congregation is a qualified ministry setting.
  • Information about volunteer agencies and programs willing to work with Saint Paul students is available from David Firman or Dr. Jim Brandt. These locations can provide excellent learning experiences.
  • Students may also propose innovative opportunities for approval as ministry settings. Approval of ministry settings is based on meeting the educational needs of Contextual Education courses and the standards of Saint Paul School of Theology. Decisions are made by the Contextual Education Office.

Spiritual Formation Retreats

Spiritual Formation retreats are day long gatherings of students, faculty and staff for prayer, learning, and fellowship.

Gathering in community we seek to be formed for ministry, to grow in personal and social holiness, and to deepen our sense of being the body of Christ in this place.