This summer Southern Adventist University’s School of Religion will begin offering a biblical counseling emphasis for its master of ministry degree, a first for any Adventist institution. The goal is to equip church leaders with the skills to counsel using biblical foundations.
The degree is a collaboration between the University’s religion, psychology, and social work programs. According to Alan Parker, D.Th., professor in the School of Religion and program director, the degree is tailored to help participants know how to provide appropriate counsel and referrals to individuals who may approach them with problems.
“When we looked at creating the emphasis, we established that we didn’t want to take the place of professional counseling,” Parker said. “Most pastors are not equipped for that. We want something that can be like triage. People will come to their pastor and say, ‘My marriage is in trouble,’ ‘I’m struggling with depression,’ ‘I have an addiction problem.’ We wanted to help pastors and church leaders be able to process that and address it from a Gospel-centered basis.”
Parker said the program is meant to go beyond just praying and reading Scriptures to those in need; students will learn how to apply relevant psychological principles and advice to supplement additional outside clinical counseling, if needed.
“We’re teaching students the type of biblical counseling that can work alongside clinical counseling,” Parker said. “Even if a person needs professional counseling, what the Gospel can do can help them, and what the church community can do can help them is important.”
Thanks to a sponsorship by the Southern Union, Church employees in the South may be eligible to complete the degree program for free. To learn more about the program, visit southern.edu/graduatestudies.
Southern Adventist University | May 2019