FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2009
Office of College Communications
WENHAM, MA—For over thirty years, Gordon College students majoring in youth ministries have been prepared for a wide range of leadership roles in community and church organizations. Now the youth ministries program has expanded, making Gordon the first Christian college in the nation to offer students the study option of juvenile justice ministries.
The newly titled Christian Ministries major now allows students to focus their academic studies in one of five specific areas: juvenile justice ministries, global Christianity, youth ministries, urban ministries or outdoor education ministries.
“Just as we read the Bible in context, ministry must be studied in a context,” said Mark Cannister, professor of Christian ministries. “With these options we’re helping students focus on their field of interest while remaining united by the theology and values common to all facets of Christian ministries.”
The juvenile justice ministries program is comprised of five week-long intensive courses. The aim is to provide students with a theological approach for effective intervention with juvenile offenders.
“Classes focus on understanding juvenile offenders, working with them in detention facilities and then understanding what re-entry into the community looks like,” said Scott Larson, adjunct professor of Christian Ministries, and primary instructor for the juvenile justice ministries courses. Larson is also the founder and president of Straight Ahead Ministries, an international faith-based organization working with juvenile offenders in more than 400 juvenile detention centers in 14 states and three countries. He said students will also gain valuable experience and first hand understanding as “they look to empathize with other’s issues of pain, anger, prejudice, and individual leadership style.”
The Christian Ministries major—regardless of concentration—includes 40–42 credits of common foundational courses as well as courses specific to a student’s concentration. Students complete their major with a practicum and capstone seminar.
“One of the major reasons for the new approach and title is to reflect a fuller picture of our program and our students’ competencies,” said Cannister. “We’ve found many of our graduates go into ministry fields that aren’t necessarily youth or church specific. This provides them more opportunities for Christian service.”