Spiritual and Practical Formation for Justice

Justice Ministry Education (JME) spiritually activates and practically prepares leaders to face the biggest moral challenges of our time with faith-rooted justice work.

I have grown in my own self-awareness and rootedness as an organizer and a beloved child of God.” – JME participant 2017

Equal parts direct experiential learning, 150 hours of field work, and facilitated learning in small groups, individually, and within local movements, JME transforms your leadership across five areas of learning, growth, and practice:

  1. Faith-rootedness
  2. The practice of justice work
  3. Role discernment and knowledge of self
  4. Self-care and communal care
  5. Accountability and relationship building.

JME groups are scheduled to launch in 2018, in person and online:

  • Atlanta (Rev. Melissa Browning, PhD, Sept 2018 – April 2019)
  • Chicago (Rev. Dr. Barbara Wilson, apply by 2019)
  • Denver (Rev. Amanda Henderson)
  • Florida I-4 Corridor (Orlando to Saint Petersburg, Rev. J.C. Pritchett, June – Dec 2018)
  • Houston (Rev. Darnell Fennell)
  • Kansas City (Rev. Jessica Williams, Central Baptist Theological School; next group begins February 2019)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Ph.D. with Rev. Peg Chemberlin, apply by August 24)
    • Regular meetings: Tuesdays from September 11th until December 4th from 10 am to 3 pm at SpringHouse Ministry Center, 610 W. 28th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408
    • Conference: the Prophetic Imagination Conference September 21st and 22nd
    • Retreats:
      • Middle retreat in collaboration with Shir Tikvah synagogue around Sabbath practice as resistance (date TBD)
      • Closing retreat December 7th and 8th

We are not currently accepting applications for JME.

About Justice Ministry Education


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. Participants engage in 150 hours of field work combined with 150 hours of directed learning. The 150 hours of directed learning is broken down into 90 hours of small group learning and work, 30 hours of individually-directed work, and 30 hours of participating in movement work happening in one’s regional area.

The JME curriculum focuses on five areas of learning, growth and practice:

  1. Faith-rootedness
  2. The practice of justice work
  3. Role discernment and knowledge of self
  4. Self-care and communal care
  5. Accountability and relationship building.

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.


  • My experience in the JME certificate program was transformative in ways I could never have imagined or anticipated…One of the most unexpected discoveries I made through this program was that I already had a relatively clear, deeply rooted, and personal theological frame established when I entered the program…More than anything, I lacked the confidence and familiarity with articulating that theology…As a result of this program, I am able to express my theological frame with more clarity and confidence than ever.
  • Perhaps the largest area of growth and learning for me throughout JME pertains to the fourth educational outcome – “self-care and communal care in justice work.” It was largely through our group theological reflections that I was able to observe or acknowledge the ways I have struggled with self-care and also the ways that I grew in naming my own needs and pursing support to get those needs met.
  • As I have grown in my own self-awareness and rootedness as an organizer and a beloved child of God, I have also deepened my critical analysis of organizing and expanded my view of what it means to do the work of justice with faith-rootedness. In part this has meant I have begun to develop a less rigid and dualistic perspective of what it means to “do justice.”
  • I am deeply grateful to be walking this road with such a diverse and thoughtful group of friends who share lived experiences and points of view unlike my own. Our social context is crisscrossed with intersections of diversity we must learn to navigate together in order to live out God’s vision ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’
  • I decided to take the JME class to explore my own spirituality and justice work in a group with fellow travelers. Recent events in our country and the world have lent an urgency to my seeking, so I’ve really appreciated the opportunity of our community together. I have had several realizations during the program, and many deeper understandings, which I’d like to sum up here, in three main categories: (i) my justice activism is tied to my queerness; (ii) multi-faith work and pluralism are the bedrock of my activism; (iii) the importance of self-care, listening, and lightening things up.

WHAT TO EXPECT: Justice Ministry Education groups have 10-12 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: The tuition for Justice Ministry Education in 2018 is $800. Scholarships may be available. When participants use a field site that is different than their place of employment, stipends may occasionally be available, depending on the budget of the field site and the availability of scholarship funds.

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.

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 $8,000.

JME supervisors commit to:

  1. Assist with recruiting participants. Groups require 10 participants in order to launch. Auburn promotes and markets the program through our extensive database (Groundswell) and network of faith-rooted justice leaders. Group supervisors promote the program through local channels and networks. Supervisors are responsible for selection and have full control over who participates in their group.
  2. Carry out a customized curriculum. Auburn provides detailed educational outcomes as well as a substantial list of suggested exercises and learning resources. Supervisors determine how to apply particular learning approaches to their JME group during the 90 hours of small group learning. Group learning sessions will include a mix of reflection, case study, guest speakers, field trips, and various other pedagogies. Supervisors also assist participants in creating individualized learning plans and in identifying regional movement activities that participants can experience. Supervisors from around the U.S. are connected to each other and can support each other as desired.
  3. When participants are not using their place of employment as their field site, assist participants with the selection of a field site, and troubleshoot field site relationships as needed.
  4. Learning and supervision: a two-day training and monthly check-in calls with the national JME program director.
  5. Limited administration: secure a space to gather, set the space, and manage small accounting for incidental costs. Auburn provides reimbursement for up to $1,000 of incidentals (such as occasional meals, travel, and honoraria). Auburn handles tuition collection directly with participants.
  6. Submission of evaluation materials at the conclusion of the JME group.

To inquire about becoming a JME Supervisor, please contact us.


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.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Auburn Seminary