The CM program's underlying theory comes from these theological and experience based understandings:

  • "Public ministry”–serving the world’s needs – is the proper work of the Church.
  • Successful public ministry requires leaders who can motivate church members to become involved in such ‘external’ work.
  • This motivation will require the leader to be able to nurture the members adequately so they are able to look beyond their own needs.

Thus, to be successful, “public ministers” must have two sets of skills – in parish work and in social change work – and know how to integrate them in practice. Standard theological seminary training does not provide this type of training, nor is it currently being provided in this form by any other training program in the United States of which we are aware.


2016/17 Community Ministers

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Lance Hurst - Hailing from the small town of Jasper, Florida, life has been far more adventurous for Lance Hurst than he expected. Since his stepfather was in the Air Force, he spent his time in middle school and high school living in the UK. Lance then attended Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and earned a BS in Practical Theology and an MA in Ministerial Leadership while also working on staff at a small local church. Currently, he is a third year student at Princeton Theological Seminary with a passion for theology that is meaningful, helpful, and works for people on the margins of the church and society. Lance hopes to continue this journey by pursuing ordination and pursuing further theological education.


Bekah Forni is in the second year of her M.Div. at Drew Theological School.  She grew up in North Jersey before retreating to the Finger Lakes to study philosophy and sociology at Ithaca College and plunge into the world of vegetarian cuisine by working at Moosewood Restaurant.  Then she moved to Boston where she worked in sales and marketing at Equal Exchange (a fair trade coffee worker-owner cooperative) and briefly explored what life could be like as a Baptist.  She is a yoga enthusiast and earned her 200 hour YTT certification before returning to the New York City area to pursue ordination in the United Methodist Church.  She is interested in the intersection between spiritual practice and social action.


Robin Hafitz has been a small business owner in New York City for two decades.  She was Co-Chair of the advertising agency, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, which produced award-winning work for The Village Voice, among others, and is now Founder/CEO of Open Mind Strategy, a research company that specializes in youth insights.  She started educating herself for a third career in untraditional ministry after a cancer scare, and is a third year student at Yale Divinity School.  She also attended Yale as an undergraduate, where she majored in fine art.


Kaeley McEvoy is originally from Woodbury, Connecticut and is currently a second year Master of Divinity student at Union Theological Seminary. A journalist and political junkie at heart, Kaeley graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in religious studies, political science and writing. Kaeley previously worked for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ and the D.C. faith based advocacy group Sojourners. During her time in New York, Kaeley has worked on the communications staff at Union Theological Seminary and interned in the New York City Mayor’s Office acting as a liaison between the Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council and the Community Affairs Unit. Outside of seminary, Kaeley enjoys finding pick-up soccer anywhere she can, trying out new yoga studios and constantly reading Twitter. 


Erica Poellot is a mother, maker and since 1998, has been engaged in the work of social justice and sacred activism, with a particular interest in the intersections of practical theology, trauma/gender based violence and substance use. She has managed a domestic violence shelter for Orthodox Jewish women, coordinated crisis lines and a team of first responders handling sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence, and developed a specialized counseling center for LGBT IPV survivors in Southern CA. With joint MDiv/MSW degrees from Union Theological Seminary (2010) and Columbia University (2007), Erica currently works as the Director of Institutional Giving for the Harm Reduction Coalition in NYC. Erica and her partner Allan and their 3 year old daughter recently moved to Spuytin Duyvil and fill their time together with picnics in the park, art making and cooking/dining with friends.

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André Daughtry is a contemporary artist who works in photography and film. He holds an MFA in Photography & Media from the California Institute of the Arts (Calarts)and is currently a MA Candidate at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York in the Theology and the Arts Program. “I am interested in the so-called line between the Sacred and the Profane and where the higher meaning of Art is to play a prophetic role in modern society”


aimee iris brown is a healing practitioner and performance artist connecting ritual, creativity, and  healing. Originally from Dublin, GA, she studied Performance at the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently a 2nd year Interfaith/Interspiritual seminary student at One Spirit in NYC. aimee iris lives in Gowanus, Brooklyn with her beautiful partner, two ginger cats, one southern dog, and 50 indoor house plants.


Soon after Donna Schaper was called as Judson Church’s Senior Minister in 2006, she proposed a new program to train a small group of seminarians in the kind of progressive, inclusive, world-serving ministry that both she and Judson Church had been doing for many years: a “Training Program on Public Ministry from a Parish Base”. Judson’s lay leaders agreed to try this idea and created a pilot program for the 2006-07 academic year, with five students, financed by spending down a donor-designated fund from the church’s small reserves.

That pilot program, which is now familiarly called the “Community Ministry” program, proved successful and Judson was eager to continue it, but could not, without significant outside funding. The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation came to the rescue with a generous grant that completely underwrote the 2007-08 academic year, and 10 students were trained that year. In subsequent years, the Community Ministry program has tried varying formats and class sizes – all with continuing partial funding from the Carpenter Foundation, plus gradually increasing funds from additional sources – for all of which Judson is immensely grateful.

The Judson program assigns the students to work at least 15 hours a week, including attending Judson worship on Sundays and participating in a weekly three-hour seminar led by Judson’s two clergy and two lay leaders, at which a combination of formal instruction and mutual discussion helps students solidify their learnings from their experiences of the prior week. The rest of their time is spent on their assigned tasks, both standard pastoral tasks (which can include aspects of worship leadership, education, pastoral care, and administration) and also external ministry tasks. Students are paid a small monthly stipend for the academic year. They receive regular individual supervision from the clergy, and each student is also provided with a lay mentor from the congregation.