So, I am three weeks away from finishing all my MDiv classes, which is exciting and bittersweet simultaneously. In the course of my degree, I have taken a grand total of 36 classes…and 35 of these 36 classes took place on campus.
But, I did have one online class.
And I loved it.
Last summer I took a class called Encountering the City online. The class satisfied a ministry class requirement for the MDiv, and it was taught by Dr. Chris Accornero, who is an affiliate faculty member and who did her PhD in Intercultural Studies here. There were students in the class from Fuller’s various regional campuses, students from Fuller’s Pasadena campus, and students who were online-only students (in locations as far away as Thailand and Kenya!).
The purpose of the class was to give us tools to exegete our cities, the way we might exegete the Bible, so that we can serve the people who live in our cities better as pastors, non-profit workers, and even just as residents. To that end, we visited different church and ministry locations in our cities, wrote about these experiences, and, in some cases, got involved in some of these ministries. For example, I volunteered with Fuller’s Food Distribution (which is a food pantry for low-income residents of the city of Pasadena, including Fuller students) for several weeks over the summer. For two hours every Wednesday, I got to help set up and serve our clients. At the end of the quarter, I wrote a paper for Encountering the City about my experience as a volunteer at Fuller’s Food Distribution.
The class was set up so that we would find resources on the course Moodle page, look at these resources, and then go out into our cities to use them. Dr. Chris was responsive, kind, and insightful. She would post links to articles and videos which helped us learn how to observe situations, and to be able to begin to participate. Our assignments challenged us to think critically about the way we interact with other people in our cities.
This class also reminded me that I have a heart for the city. I hope that one day I will serve in a ministry context in an urban area. As someone who grew up in the suburbs, I have ample ministry experience in places where people have yards and fences and don’t always know their neighbors well. But I have served in urban contexts as well, and I love the energy and the connectedness of cities.
So, all of that to say that my experiences with online classes at Fuller have been great. That being said, if you are planning to become an on-campus student, I do highly recommend on-campus classes. There is something gratifying about going to school in real-time. But if you are not currently in a position where you could relocate to Pasadena or one of Fuller’s regional campuses, then I would encourage you to think about applying for admission and taking online classes. You won’t regret it.