Jo Ann Deasy: Black Student Perspectives on Multivocational Ministry

Ministry, money, and graduate theological education—for Black students, multivocational ministry provides the connection and the possibility for serving the communities that need them the most.

Jo Ann Deasy, an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, is Director of Institutional Initiatives and Student Research at The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

This is one of a series of video posts from the authors of Bivocational and Beyond: Educating for Thriving Multivocational Ministry (forthcoming April 2022). This book is an edited volume for church leaders and those that teach and support them. Contributors include bivocational pastors and other reflective practitioners as well as theological educators and researchers.

In Chapter 5, “Black Student Perspectives,” Jo Ann Deasy examines the perspectives of Black seminarians on debt and finances in order to improve the support offered by graduate theological schools. The author draws on qualitative data she and co-researchers collected during a 2019 study on Black student debt by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Though not originally designed to inquire about multivocational ministry, the data revealed many challenges for multivocational clergy and the seminaries they attend. Few of the students interviewed expected to make a living wage in ministry after graduation. Most recognized that the congregations they came from and the congregations they planned to serve would not be able to support them financially. Many Black students considered educational debt and multivocational ministry as intentional strategies to assist them in answering their call, pursuing theological education not for financial success or security but in order to minister to their communities. This chapter concludes with implications for graduate theological education.

For resources on bivocational and multivocational ministry, see the book’s webpage.