Spiritual Formation for Pursuing Justice

Justice Ministry Education (JME) is a 300-hour leadership and spiritual formation program for organizers, seminarians, clergy, activists, and nonprofit staff.

Twenty-five participants joined five pilot JME groups from January-July 2017 in Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and New York City. New JME groups around the U.S. are scheduled to launch in January 2018.

Please notify me when a JME group forms in my area

Join a Justice Ministry Education Group

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: The Justice Ministry Education program uses the action-reflection-action form of learning. Participants engage in intense hands-on field work and reflect on their experiences with a supervisor and a small group of peers.

The five major educational goals of the JME program are:

  1. Articulate and embody a theology or ethic of social justice;
  2. Deeply understand one area of justice work, including movement history, social analysis, methods and tools for social transformation, and identifying roles for faith voices;
  3. Clarify one’s personal role in faith-rooted justice work, including gifts, social location, and vocation;
  4. Explore and practice self-care and communal-care that contribute to resilience; and
  5. Practice building relationships and coalitions that support movements.

Participants leave the program spiritually activated and practically prepared. The small group structure of the program ensures that each participant is challenged to focus their learning in the areas they most want to grow.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Justice Ministry Education groups have 4-10 participants and are led by an expert supervisor. Each participant works at a field site during the program, and the field site can be a current place of employment (if the work is related to faith-rooted justice) or any institution that allows the participant to engage in faith-rooted justice work. Supervisors assist participants in selecting an appropriate field site. The scheduling of the small group meetings are different for each group. JME is a deeply hands-on intense learning environment and is not like regular classroom learning. Participants should expect to be challenged by their peers, by themselves, and by their field sites.

COSTS: There are two fees associated with the JME program. The fee for participants is $600. The fee for field placement sites is between $500-1000 (sliding scale based on the institution’s budget). Scholarships are available for both participants and field sites.

Become a JME Supervisor

Justice Ministry Education supervisors serve as the teacher, facilitator, guide, administrator, and troubleshooter of a Justice Ministry Education (JME) group. The general requirements for becoming a JME supervisor are:

  • Masters degree in a field related to faith, spirituality or justice work; ordination; or equivalent.
  • Ten or more years of professional experience in faith-rooted justice work in a congregational, nonprofit, organizing or educational setting.
  • Deep commitment to creating reflective learning communities.

The stipend for serving as a JME group supervisor in 2018 will be $5,000.

JME supervisors commit to:

  1. A two-day training, expected to be held in October and/or November 2018
  2. Organizing 150 hours of learning time that delivers on the core curriculum of the program.
  3. Assisting in the recruiting of participants.
  4. Assisting participants with the selection of a field site, and troubleshooting field site relationships as needed.
  5. Monthly check-in calls with the national JME program director.
  6. Submission of evaluation materials at the conclusion of the JME group.

To inquire about becoming a JME Supervisor, please click here.

JME Advisory Board

The Justice Ministry Education program is guided by an expert group of advisors:

  1. Hilary Allen is Director of Innovation and Growth for the New England Region Unitarian Universalist Association. She founded and runs a spiritual learning and support group for Boston area social activists called Ruach Guild.
  2. Rev. Dr. Lindsay Andreolli-Comstock is Chief Strategy Officer for Convergence and past executive director of The Beatitudes Society.
  3. Jeannie Appleman is Senior Organizer and Trainer for JOIN for Justice, a national Jewish community organizing group.
  4. Rabbi Joseph Berman co-founded the Ruach Guild (with Hillary Allen). He serves as the Government Affairs Liaison for Jewish Voice for Peace.
  5. Alia Bilal is Director of Community Relations for the Inner-City Muslim Action Network in Chicago.
  6. Sung Yeon Choimorrow is Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
  7. Rev. Ronald David, M.D. is a pediatrician and Episcopal priest, CPE supervisor at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, CA, and past board member of the Beatitudes Society.
  8. Elizabeth Denlinger Reaves is Intern Program Director at Sojourners.
  9. Joy Friedman is Senior Organizer at Just Congregations, an initiative of the Union for Reform Judaism.
  10. Rev. Pat De Jong is the retired former Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, CA and board member of Church World Service.
  11. The Rev. Frances Hall Kieschnick was the Founding Director of the Beatitudes Society. She served as Senior Associate Rector and Director of Contemplative Engagement at Trinity Episcopal Church in Menlo Park, CA and is a member of the Yale Divinity School Advisory Board.
  12. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling directs the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia.
  13. Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews is Director of Clergy Organizing at PICO and an Auburn Senior Fellow.
  14. Marc Medwed is Program Manager for the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.
  15. Rev. Wayne Meisel is Director of the Center for Faith and Service at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.
  16. Daniel May is a PhD candidate at Princeton University in Religion, Ethics and Politics focused on faith and social movements in the 20th century and a past community organizer.
  17. Rabbi Lev Meirowitz Nelson is Director of Education at T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
  18. Rev. Steve Newcom is founding director of the Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
  19. Charlene Sinclair is the founding director of the Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy and program coordinator for the Interfaith Organizing Initiative.
  20. Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay is Associate Dean of the rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in NY.
  21. Rev. Alexia Salvatierra is author (with Peter Heltzel) of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World and founder of the Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork.
  22. Rev. Chris Scharen, PhD is Vice President for Applied Research at Auburn Seminary.
  23. Sister Barbara Sheehan is Director of the Urban CPE program in Chicago that has been bringing social change thinking and learning to an accredited CPE program.
  24. Rabbi Nancy Wiener, DMin is a professor at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in NY and leads their pastoral counseling program.
  25. Rev. Janet Wolf is Director of Children’s Defense Fund Haley Farm and Nonviolent Organizing.


History of the program

Auburn Seminary started the Justice Ministry Education (JME) program when The Beatitudes Society joined Auburn in January 2016. The Beatitudes Society has been equipping entrepreneurial faith leaders who are pursuing justice and the common good since 2005. In 2013 Auburn released Educating Religious Leaders for Faith-Rooted Justice Work, a state of the field report exploring education programs based in nonprofits and seminaries around the U.S. The Justice Ministry Education program, as the future work of The Beatitudes Society at Auburn, is an attempt to support and shape the larger field of equipping leaders to engage in social justice leadership from a faith-rooted perspective. After a pilot year in 2016-2017, JME is launching ten or more JME groups in 2018.

This sounds a lot like CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education)!

The JME program marries intensive field work with small group theological reflection, a combination that is inspired by CPE’s pedagogy. JME is not an accredited CPE program and is not currently pursuing a relationship to CPE, but a staff member from ACPE serves on the JME Advisory Board.

Who is the program for?

Anyone who is interested in deepening their approach to faith-rooted justice work, especially community organizers, clergy, seminary students, and staff or board members of issue-based nonprofit organizations.

How do field placements work?

A critical component of the JME learning experience is a field placement (150 hours of work). Field placements may include nonprofits, community organizing, congregations, and related sites – anywhere where faith-rooted justice work is being done. Participants may use their current place of employment as a field site. JME supervisors assist participants to identify a field site if needed. Institutions that would like to host a JME participant should contact Rabbi Justus Baird via the contact button below.

Can I get academic credit for completing a unit of JME?

Participants who complete the JME program receive a certificate of completion of 1 unit of Justice Ministry Education from Auburn Seminary. Auburn does not offer academic credit for JME participation. Auburn will work with participants to receive credit at their home educational institution (such as through an independent study). Some JME groups have partnerships with local seminaries that may offer credit.

Are scholarships available?

Scholarships are available for participants and field sites who are unable to afford the participation fee or use professional development funds. Auburn is preparing a simple scholarship application process which will be available when the applications for the 2018 JME groups are released.

I have other questions. Who do I talk to?

Click the contact button below to email Auburn’s dean, Rabbi Justus Baird.