Meg Wagner, a Distributive Learning (DL) MDiv student at EDS, recently published Holy Relationships, a youth ministry curriculum on gender, sexuality, and healthy relationships. Published by LeaderResources, Wagner's curriculum began as her final project in Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology Patrick S. Cheng's Queer Theology and Pastoral Care course in January 2013.
Wagner, who will graduate in May 2015, served as the director of Christian formation at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City for nine years, and is currently a candidate for the priesthood in the Diocese of Iowa.
Below, Wagner answers some questions about Holy Relationships, as well as her studies at EDS.
What motivated you to create this curriculum?
For part of the final project for Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng's class on Queer Theology and Pastoral Care, Dr. Cheng asked us to create a curriculum for adults that would share some of the material we had covered in class. I asked him if I could write it for teenagers instead and he was very supportive of that idea. Having worked for two decades in youth ministry in the Episcopal Church and through my involvement with NAECED (now Forma) I knew both how important this material was and how few resources existed in the church for young people on sexuality and relationships. I wanted to encourage conversations with youth about holy and loving relationships with themselves, with God, and with others. I wanted to write a curriculum that would help youth leaders carve out safe spaces to talk about our ever-evolving understandings of sexuality, gender, gender expression, attraction, and what the qualities are of healthy, holy relationships.
What do you hope a larger audience can gain from Holy Relationships?
I hope and pray that churches are brave enough to have these conversations with young people in the church. I hope young people hear that they are beautifully and wonderfully made and that their church believes that. Ideally, it will be a valuable tool for youth and their leaders to have honest discussions about love, our bodies, the sacred and beautiful gift of our sexuality, and what makes a relationship sacred.
How has your experience at EDS influenced your work?
One of the biggest blessings for me of being a DL student is that I get to bring my daily experience in ministry in my home context into the classroom and my classroom learning directly into my local church. Several times now I have been able to work on projects for class that directly and positively benefited my home congregation. In this case, I was able to also address a need in the wider church.
Dr. Cheng's books and materials from his class on Queer Theology were the main sources of direct influence for the curriculum. He, and each of the professors I have had at EDS, have profoundly influenced me and constantly encourage all of their students to find ways to make what we are learning useful in ministry.