Story and photo by Charmaine Robledo
Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Conference
Though students at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver are technically now on holiday break, about 20 people are enrolled for a weeklong class to be taught by Bishop Karen Oliveto called, “Prophetic Leadership Through Pastoral Engagement,” from Nov. 26 to 30.
The two-credit elective course was opened to any student enrolled at Iliff and will explore “issues related to pastoring and prophetic leadership, learn from other prophetic leaders, and begin to articulate a prophetic vision of shalom and justice within their own congregations and communities,” according to the description online.
“I want to help future pastors see how the two are entwined: when we have a pastor's heart and get to know our folks deeply, a holy disturbance emerges as we realize that there are systems and structures that cause distress. This pastoral engagement propels us to prophetic leadership, seeking a world of compassion and justice,” said Bishop Oliveto. “Without pastoral engagement, one's prophetic voice is disconnected from the lived realities of others. Without prophetic leadership, pastoral engagement simply maintains a status quo that is devoid of hope.”
For Bishop Oliveto, leading a class on prophetic leadership comes naturally as she taught a similar course in Drew University’s doctorate program as an adjunct professor. The invitation to teach at Iliff came from the Rev. Boyung Lee, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at the Iliff School of Theology.
Rev. Lee said as friends and colleagues teaching at the Pacific School of Religion in California, “I know that she is a great teacher, and has deep passion for a student’s good learning. Thus I approached her to give it a try at Iliff, and after serious consideration she accepted my invitation.”
Indeed, having a bishop teach a class is an extraordinary event, and an opportunity student Amanda Heeren could not miss. When a space opened up last minute, she immediately jumped at the chance to get in. As a third-year student in the Master of Divinity program, she said the course will not only fulfill some of her credits, but she looks forward to “hearing rhetoric other than from my home conference.” Heeren hopes the course will help her “have productive conversations” especially in this particular time in The United Methodist Church.
For more information about the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, go to www.iliff.edu