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The Center for Public Ministry
Advancing the art of social transformation

The Center for Public Ministry is dedicated to equipping the church to be a powerful and sustained force for social justice.

Interested in participating
or want to know more?

Steve Newcom



About Us

Between 2007 and 2010, founding director Steve Newcom researched the state of theological education and social justice ministry in mainline Protestant seminaries. Though a strong affirmation of the centrality of social justice in the life and mission of the church was recognized, significant gaps existed. Most seminaries lacked courses that equip students for leadership in social justice ministry, organizing frameworks, and a curriculum that facilitates student integration of social justice imperatives.

To address these gaps, Steve developed a public ministry typology to provide an organizing framework to advance the body of knowledge and practice of social justice ministry. The typology reflects a paradigm shift: from issues to strategies and from knowledge to competencies.

Shifting the conceptual framework of social justice expands the focus to include “how” and moves into the realm of practical theology. The typology provides a framework for organizing and advancing a body of knowledge and body of practice for doing public ministry.

Program Priorities:
The Center for Public Ministry serves as a catalyst to expand and deepen social justice education at United Theological Seminary, increase the public voice and effectiveness of local and regional religious bodies, and advance public ministry as a practical theological discipline within seminary education through:

Education & Capacity Building, which addresses important social issues in ways that highlight the strategic and practical skills required for effective and sustained social justice ministry.

Action Research of academic literature and practitioner knowledge to identify best practices and core competencies and integrate this within a Public Ministry strategy and leadership framework.

Movement Building across diverse communities (faith, identity, social, political, etc.) that builds power and strengthens the progressive voice.


Center for Public Ministry
Seeks Student as Program Associate
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Contact: Steven Newcom, 612-255-6139 

The Center for Public Ministry is seeking a part-time associate in support of the research and programmatic work of the Center.


The program associate position will focus on three areas:

  1. Support the Center’s leadership role in advancing the seminary strategy (develop strategies and relationships which advance the knowledge and practice of faith-based organizing within theological education) of the Interfaith Organizing Initiative (IOI).

Background: Informed by congregation-based Community Organizing, the IOI exists as a collective effort of committed denominations and religious bodies, congregation-based organizing networks, and funders with three goals:

  1. Deepening the institutional and congregational capacities of our faith traditions to be more powerfully engaged in public life for the sake of justice and on behalf of all that God is creating;
  2. Developing processes and capacities for building power requisite to win on justice issues at the national level; and
  3. Developing strategies and relationships which advance the knowledge and practice of faith-based organizing within theological education.

The Center was responsible for the creation of the 3rd goal and provides leadership for it’s implementation. The program associate will organize, coordinate and implement the priorities of the Seminary Strategy team.

  1. Connect the United Community to the Prophetic Voices and Prophetic Voter Campaign. 

Background: Prophetic Voices is a collaboration of ISAIAH, Jewish Community Action and the Center for Public Ministry focused on racial and economic justice. The Prophetic Voter campaign is working to advance an faithful agenda for equity including:

Economic Dignity

  • Dignity at Work: Fair wages, family security and more democracy in the workplace (minimum wage increase; family leave and sick pay; safe working conditions, etc.)
  • Building Community Wealth: Foreclosure prevention; opportunity housing; access to fair credit and loans; ending predatory lending; creating financial institutions committed to local economies

Civic Inclusion and Pathways to Opportunity

  • Ending Mass Incarceration: From stopping the flow of people into our prison systems to ensuring those who re-enter our communities have the opportunity to thrive
  • Education Equity: Transforming school discipline policies; implementing racial equity in all aspects of public education; adequate and fair funding for public education
  • Immigration Reform
  • Voting Rights for All Excluded People: Immigrants; formerly incarcerated
  • Connecting our Communities: Integrated housing; access to transit and transportation

Health and Healthy Communities

  • Access to Affordable, Compassionate and High Quality Healthcare
  • Co-creating Healthy Communities (healthy food access; opportunities for play and recreation; safe communities free from violence)
  1. Lead the outreach and connections between the Prophetic Voter campaign and the United community.
    • Research, connect and develop social justice internship sites.

Background: The Justice and Peace Studies Concentration at United requires an internship placement, but it has primarily been the students’ responsibility to identify and arrange placements. United is also developing a new concentration in Social Transformation, which requires a practicum component. This component of work will focus on researching, connecting, developing and cataloging potential internship sites.


Flexible schedule with majority of work done off-site. Biweekly team meetings. 10 hours a week @ $10.10 per hour through December 31, 2014.


The Center is located in Room 203, McMillan Center, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, 3000 Fifth St NW, New Brighton MN 55112.


  1. Commitment to social justice
  2. Research experience and skills
  3. Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  4. Fluency in English with good people skills
  5. Computer literacy with Microsoft Office and Internet use
  6. Ability to work independently, manage time, complete assignments and problem-solve
  7. Commitment and ability to work as a team
  8. Flexibility, good humor and perseverance
  9. Confidence and a positive attitude
  10. Student with 12+ credits preferred

How to Apply

Send cover letter, resume and responses to the following to snewcom@unitedseminary.edu by March 21, 2014. 

  1. Why are you interested in this position?
  2. Please review the functions and duties and describe your experience related to each area of activity.
  3. Specifically identify your primary areas of interest and expertise and the unique contributions you bring to this work.
  4. Please provide contact information for three references:
    • Personal
    • Professional
    • Religious/church-based

Background on the Center for Public Ministry

The Center for Public Ministry is a self-sustaining institution working in close collaboration with, and housed at, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. The Center operates at the nexus of theological education and social change and has two core priorities:

  1. Advancing the praxis of social transformation
  2. Preparing and inspiring faithful leaders as powerful agents for social change

Communities of faith have provided significant leadership for transformational movements which, in turn, have been fueled and informed by theological frameworks, religious beliefs and a transcendent sense of shared community – i.e. the civil rights, peace, women's, anti-apartheid, and environmental movements. Yet progressive communities of faith have not sustained their power and leadership as a consistent force for social justice. United is situated within this prophetic religious tradition and has a long and deep legacy of theological education for progressive social justice.

The Center supports the mission and success of United through four programmatic objectives:

  1. Pioneering an integrative framework, which advances social transformation as a practical theological discipline.
  2. Creating curriculum, classes and programs which equip students and faith leaders with the strategic and theological skills required for effective and sustained social justice leadership.
  3. Partnering with social justice organizations to increase community impact and deepen understanding of the applied dynamics of social change.
  4. Engaging and supporting faith-based social justice practitioners to sustain their work and deepen core competencies.


Steven Newcom, Director

Steven Newcom, a 1980 United alum, is an ordained minister in the Community of Christ church and the founding director of the Center for Public Ministry, whose mission is to advance the church’s effectiveness as a sustained and powerful force for social justice. Newcom was awarded an Archibald Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship in 2007-2009 to research the intersection of theological education and social justice ministry. Prior to founding the Center, Steve served for 18 years as executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice. Prior to that, he worked for the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. Since 1995, he has been an adjunct professor in the Philanthropy and Development Graduate School of St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, teaching organization leadership and management.


Aaron Lauer, Research Associate

Aaron graduated from United in 2010 with an M.A. in Religion and Theology. A native Nebraskan, Aaron grew up with a deep interest in politics, history and religion, and sees the work of the Center as important in advancing the church’s role in orchestrating social change. He is the minister to children, youth and families at First Congregational Church of Minnesota and enjoys reading, exercising and indie rock music.


Cecilia Runge, Program and Administration Associate

Cecilia is an M.Div. student at United with concentrations in Pastoral Care & Counseling and Justice & Peace Studies. Cecilia is an active member of campus life and serves as the student body moderator. She is invested in the fight for LGBT equality and currently volunteers with the Marriage Equality Campaign in Minnesota. Cecilia is the minister for children and youth at Linden Hills United Church of Christ and is a member in discernment of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ. Cecilia is thrilled to be a part of the Center for Public Ministry, where she studies what makes social justice ministry successful and how to equip the church to be a powerful and sustained force for social justice. She believes the Center is currently the most cutting-edge thing happening at United. Cecilia enjoys singing, cooking and spending time with her fiancé.




Pamela Cook, Research Associate

Pamela Cook is an M.Div. student at United. She has a J.D. from Emory University and has nearly completed her Ph.D. work at the University of Chicago. While in Chicago, Pamela joined Trinity United Church of Christ, where she first embraced her call to ministry. She is on track to graduate in 2014 and plans to serve in parish ministry, college chaplaincy and new church planning.

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