The man behind the Divinity School’s new Master’s in Faith Leadership & Formation program
Dr. Cameron Jorgenson admired Campbell Divinity School’s 25-year track record of preparing students for frontline service in their churches, their nonprofits or in other ministry settings. But he and his colleagues knew the school could offer more, specifically to those outside of the ministry.
“The thing that divinity schools do is we develop people’s faith — we help them go deeper into the story of the Scripture and into the story of the church, what our core beliefs are, and we prepare them to serve in a variety of ways,” said Jorgenson, an associate professor of Christian theology and ethics. “And that’s necessary for people serving in full-time ministry, but it’s not only relevant to them, it’s relevant for all Christians. We knew we needed to build something for everybody, even if they haven’t been called into full-time service, but instead have been called to live out their faith in a variety of places that God has placed them.
“We built a degree for that.”
Jorgenson led the creation of the Divinity School’s Master of Arts in Faith Leadership & Formation degree program, formed in 2020. The program is designed for students looking to integrate their faith in their secular careers. The program equips students to think deeply, live faithfully and lead with purpose.
The 18-month plan is designed to help recent college graduates entering the workforce and those with established careers discover a meaningful mission in their work. Graduates will leave with practical knowledge of what a life of deep faith and service-oriented leadership looks like in their fields.
The first cohort in 2020 drew eight students — their careers ranged from real estate agent to professional chef. Photographers to research scientists.
“The chef — before she entered the program, she had this stirring to somehow use her gifts in the kitchen for the sake of doing God’s work, too,” Jorgenson said. “So she began doing culinary camps for older kids — almost like a vacation Bible school 2.0 — and she received a wonderful response to it. She recently launched a nonprofit, one of those things that grew out of her sense of vocational longing to use her skills beyond what’s expected.”
The past year has been a busy and rewarding one for Jorgenson. He was honored in the spring with the D.P. Russ, Jr. and Walter S. Jones, Sr. Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, an award he called “enormously humbling.”
“It’s humbling, because it’s nothing you set out to do as a professor,” he said. “If you’re ever gunning for something like that, you for sure will be going about it the wrong way.”
Jorgenson shared the story of an early Christian scholar named Origen, one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology.
“What’s fascinating to me about him is that one of his students is reported as having said, ‘Do you notice how he loves us? Do you notice how he loves his students?’” he said. “I guess what has stuck with me is that even beyond his enormous prolific impact as a writer and as a creative thinker, what really made an impact on his students is the fact that they happen to notice that he really did care for them. He really did love them. And that is something that I hope that my students feel from our interactions.
“Because it’s true, it’s not unique to me. I think that’s part of what makes the Divinity School so great. We genuinely love our students. But it is something that I really want them to catch, because I want them to know that they have this safe space to process big and difficult and sometimes scary ideas. And that requires a bond of love and trust.”
Outside of the classroom, Jorgenson is active in several professional societies and has presented papers at a variety of meetings, including the national American Academy of Religion (AAR) Annual Meeting, the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion Region-At-Large meeting, the Baptist Association of Philosophy Teachers, and the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture Fall Conference. He is the former chair of the constructive theology section of the Southeastern Region of the AAR, and he previously served on the AAR’s Graduate Student Committee, addressing the needs of student members.
At the Divinity School, Jorgenson provides leadership for the “Pre-Doctoral Fellowship,” which provides support for students interested in further graduate studies, as well as “Lectionary Lunch,” a brown bag lunch discussion of each week’s lectionary texts.