By Toya Richards
Pastor Emmanuel Omojola knows what it is like to live in a family wrought with turmoil and distress.
He grew up in his native Nigeria in a “very problematic family,” and his parents separated when he was 12, he said. “It was very traumatic for me.”
Today, Omojola has developed a counseling ministry that serves families in Africa and the African Diaspora. He also is earning his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to be even more quipped to provide marriage and family therapy through pastoral counseling supervision.
“There are a lot of problems … with families in Africa,” said Omojola, who currently lives in Lawrenceville, Ga., and is a member of The Redeemed Christian Church of God. “Many divorces are taking place,” and those problems affect both the home and the church, he said.
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of counselors in Africa, he added. So, “the best thing I can do is to begin multiplying marriage and family ministers.”
Omojola is part of the newest class of DMin students at Louisville Seminary. Fifteen seminarians make up the class, which met for two weeks in early January for its first seminar.
“This new cohort of students is a well balanced group by gender, race, and denomination, and there is a good balance among our four tracks/concentrations in the Doctor of Ministry Program,” said the Rev. Dr. David Sawyer, director of Lifelong Learning and Advanced Degrees and Professor of Ministry at Louisville Seminary.
Of the 15 students, eight are men and seven are women; and nine are European American, four are African American, and two are African. Denominations represented include Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Disciples of Christ, Baptist, United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Episcopal, Church of God of Prophesy, and Pentecostal.
Sawyer said the addition of the Black Church Studies Program at Louisville Seminary has contributed greatly toward the Seminary’s commitment for student diversity, and that that the pastoral care and counseling supervision track in the program is “a big draw for folks all over the country.”
Louisville Seminary’s DMin program has been in place for more than 30 years, and the current curriculum utilizes peer learning groups that gather for seminars, which are led by a faculty member and rotating pastors and professionals who are active in the field. Only 15 students are admitted per class, and four tracks are offered – advanced practice of ministry, pastoral care and counseling supervision, a concentration in black church studies, and intentional interim ministry.
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Grossoehme, a 2006 DMin graduate of Louisville Seminary and one of the pastors leading the current DMin class, said the first seminar focused on articulating pastoral identity. It addressed who they are as a pastor in whatever ministry setting they are serving, he said.
The group talked about “what does it mean for you to be an ordained person in that setting,” said Grossoehme, who is a staff chaplain and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Among other things, the group also presented on their particular ministry setting, and discussed where they are now and what it might mean to be a pastor there in five years, he said.
“There is a lot of work to be done. The program is very heavy,” said Omojola, whose ministry is Agape Family Peacebuilders International, which trains counselors. “I really appreciate it because it really is a way of helping students to be well-equipped.”
“When you finish a degree from Louisville Seminary, you are sure to know what you are doing,” he said.
Sawyer concurred. A DMin from Louisville Seminary “really is about a renewal and a commitment to the vocation of ministry first, and then it is refreshing one’s ability to think theologically about the practice of ministry.”