Associate Professor of Ministry Development
B.A., M.A., Cambridge University
M.Div., Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Ph.D., Boston College
Susanna Singer is a native of England, and has lived happily in the USA for 38 years. She studied English Literature at the University of Cambridge, worked as a business administrator in London, and earned her M.Div. at CDSP following her call to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. After ordination she served as Canon Liturgist and Educator at Grace Cathedral, and diocesan education coordinator for the Diocese of California, then earned a PhD in theology and education at Boston College. She has served as associated clergy in small and medium-sized congregations in a variety of cultural contexts. She has taught at CDSP since Fall 2005. She has been active in congregational and diocesan consulting in the field of ministry development, and chaired the General Convention’s Task Force on Clergy Leadership for Small Congregations from 2015-18.
Why I Teach:
Mostly I teach because I love it! I believe that some of the most critical issues faced by people of faith today concern the development of robust Christian identity in an increasingly secular world. Christian disciples need strong roots in vibrant communities of faith as well as the capacity to act reflectively and effectively in the world in the service of God’s mission. Christian life takes place in a context of immense cultural and religious diversity, where everything – including religious commitment – is a choice. The extremes of closed-minded religious rigidity or laissez-faire openness are not valid options in this context. Instead, people of faith need to cultivate deeply grounded Christian commitment coupled with openness to diversity – a daunting task. I bring to my teaching theoretical frameworks and effective techniques from the fields of practical theology, transformative learning, cognitive-developmental theory, critically reflective pedagogy, and imagination in order to help students meet this exciting challenge.
The second focus of my teaching and scholarship (deeply connected with the first) is ministry development. The baptismal theology and ecclesiology of the Episcopal Church compel me to enable students to empower the ministries of all, and to imagine new ecclesial structures that enable the church to turn towards the world, offering the Gospel to a changing world in fresh, inviting ways. The best current thinking in organizational development, leadership, systems theory, and change management, as well as emerging ecclesiology, informs my teaching in this area. I am particularly interested in the fields of evangelism and socially-engaged ministries, as well as the integration of approaches and tools from community organizing into congregational leadership.
My teaching style is participatory, experiential and student-centered. All my classes include active learning – role-playing, group projects and practical design exercises – in order to ground students’ learning in the world of ministry. My goal is that students will enjoy becoming empowered, critically reflective, collaborative theological practitioners.
- Postmodern Christian Education
- Education for Social Engagement
- Book review: Church for Every Context: An Introduction to Theology and Practice. By Michael Moynagh with Philip Harrold (London: SCM Press, 2012) for Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2017.
- Book review: Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction. Edited by Kathleen A. Cahalan and Gordon S. Mikoski. (Maryland, Plymouth UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) for Anglican Theological Review, June 2016.
- Book review: Theological Reflection across Religious Traditions: The Turn to Reflective Believing. By Edward Foley (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) for Anglican Theological Review, Spring 2016.
- “Supervisory Practice in a Distance Learning Program of Formation for Ministry.” Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, Volume 31, 2011 (online journal, Berkeley, CA).
- Book review: The Church in Anglican Theology: A Historical, Theological and Ecumenical Exploration. By Kenneth A. Locke. (Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate 2009) for Anglican and Episcopal History, March 2010.
- “Turning Outwards: How does the Church Carry Forward God’s Mission in the World,” a keynote address for the Living Stones Collaborative , February 2018; a day retreat for Christian educators in the Diocese of Northern California, April 2018.
- “Christian Education After Christendom: An Ecological Approach,” a day retreat for Christian educators in the Diocese of Northern California, April 2017.
- “Beautiful Authority 50 Plus,” a conference for women clergy leaders over 50; co-leader May 2016.
- “Lifelong Christian Formation,” workshop for the PNEUMA conference, Fall 2015.
- “Numbers and Stories: Measuring Vitality and Effectiveness in Ministry,” Theological Address to the Gathering of Leaders’ Conference on Vitality and Effectiveness in the Missionary Church, April 2015.
- Two webinars on Leadership in Ministry for the Diocese of Michigan, Spring 2014.
- “The World is Charged With the Grandeur of God: The Parables of Jesus, the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Life of Faith,” Retreat for the Associates of the Order of the Transfiguration, September 2013.
- GTU Colloquium on Best Practices in Online Teaching, August 2013.
- “Signs for the World: Engaging Sacramental Theology and Practice” Lay Leadership Day and Week-Long Clergy Conference, Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, June 2013.