Roger A. Dermody
Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Pasadena campus
I resisted pursuing a doctorate, but because of my DMin studies at Fuller, over 200 new worshipping communities have been planted.
A lot has changed since I began my Fuller DMin almost nine years ago. My wife and I have gone from newlyweds to adoptive parents of three children. I've left a church I served in multiple capacities for almost 25 years to serve in our denominational headquarters. I've left a place I always called home (Southern California) to live in Louisville, Kentucky and to travel frequently, representing our denomination and interacting with mission partners and ecumenical leaders, around the U.S. and the world.
It could never be rightly said that I "raced" through the Fuller DMin program. I resisted even applying. Though prompted by peer and mentor alike, I wanted my degree to count for more than a new title and stripes on my robe. I wanted my studies to be meaningful, and to make a difference. In hindsight, I'm not sure they could have been any more meaningful. God used the DMin process to clarify my call, and direct me towards a ministry journey I may never have otherwise contemplated.
While every one of my courses was meaningful and formative, two stand out. Ironically, they were my first and my last course. My first course was taught by Dr. Reggie McNeal. Reggie (as he urged us to call him) used several assessment vehicles to help us learn more about our natural temperament, aptitudes, and gifts. This process helped me see beyond the many voices pointing me towards full-time pastoral pulpit ministry, enabling me to see my primary gifts and passions far more aligned with the work I am currently doing -- serving the larger church in an executive leadership role. My final class, taught by Dr. Arch Hart, was more of a spiritual journey than a classic lecture course. The class invited significant personal reflection, which was healing, confirming, and a true gift to me during a time of high stress in my ministry and personal life.
The opportunity to focus my final project on something that was both personally and professionally rewarding was significant. The process of selecting my final thesis helped direct me toward a topic designed to bring renewal to a historic denominational structure. By God's amazing grace, the insights and plans developed during the research and writing phase of my project have proven to be a major catalyst to launch and sustain our new denominational church-planting initiative, named the 1001 Movement. Thus far, over 200 new worshiping communities have been birthed, and countless lives are being transformed, in large part thanks to insights gained during my DMin at Fuller. I feel exceedingly blessed to have had the privilege along the way to study with excellent professors and ministry colleagues. I am extremely grateful for the patience the DMin office showed me in guiding me to the finish line. Fuller helped prepare me and shape me for a ministry role that is exceedingly abundantly beyond all I could have ever asked or imagined (Eph 3:20).
Roger Dermody is Deputy Executive Director for Mission for the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Photos above: Roger prays for two leaders of a home church in Vietnam; he commissions new PCUSA Mission Coworkers at the general assembly