Category Archives: Continuing Education

Presbyterian Polity, Program and Mission Educator Certification Course

Christian educators, teaching and ruling elders, and church members are sometimes not aware of the rich resources in the Book of Order, and the ability of polity to empower congregational ministry, faith formation, spiritual practices, and vocation as a mark of the God who sends the church into the world.

Exploring polity in the context of the General Assembly will provide participants a broad understanding of the structure, governance, and mission of the PC(USA) and a vibrant picture of the church at work on the important issues that shape life and faith. In addition, access to the exhibit hall will provide lively interaction with resource materials produced by the denomination and the people who actively engage the denomination in ministry and mission. Through participation in worship, observation of committee discernment, plenary debate, decision-making, and interaction with denominational leadership course participants will be immersed in the work of this council that brings the diverse church together as one representation of the body of Christ.

The course begins at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 18, and concludes at noon on Wednesday, June 22. The instructor is Joyce MacKichan Walker. Advance registration is required—select the Educator Certification Course component as you register; the $320 fee includes the course fee and the GA registration fee.

For more information, contact Debbie Hough,

Spring Courses at Union Presbyterian Seminary

What’s happening at the Leadership Institute this spring?

A lot!  And now is a great time to register for one or more of these offerings:


  • March 11 Render Unto Caesar (clergy taxes and terms of call) – Richmond campus.  There is no cost for this workshop; lunch is available for $12.
  • April 11-14  Stewardship:  In an era when there isn’t enough, how do we teach/preach generosity? Richmond campus.  Led by Laura and Chuck Mendenhall. $250 ($195 for those who register by March 4).
  • April 19-21 The PC(USA) Today and Tomorrow – Richmond campus.  Led by Heath Rada, General Assembly Moderator, and Mark Ramsey, pastor in Austin, TX.  $195 ($150 for those who register by March 11).
  • April 26-28 Welcoming the Stranger: Hospitality in the Small Church – Richmond campus.  Led by Marilyn Johns.  $130 ($95 for those who register by March 18).
  • May 17-19 Not by Bread Alone:  Faith and the politics of food – Richmond campus.  Led by UPSem faculty Dawn DeVries, Paul Galbreath, and Christine Luckritz Marquis.  $195 ($150 for those who register by April 8).

Certification Courses – please note that all certification courses are also open to those not seeking    certification:

  • April 5-7  Biblical Interpretation (Christian Educator Certification) – Richmond campus.  Led by Carson Brisson.  This is a hybrid course – 18 hours of work will be completed at home, beginning on March 7.  The other 12 hours will be in-class.  $295.
  • April 7 and 21  Human Resources Issues (Church Business Administration Certification) – Charlotte campus.  This is a two-day course.  April 7 will deal with the legal aspects of human resources, and April 21 will be for personnel and relational aspects of HR.  For certification the two sessions must both be taken.  $170 for the two-day seminar, $275 for all four spring seminars.
  • May 5 Communications Issues (Church Business Administration Certification) – Charlotte campus.   Led by Ken Garfield.  $85 for this seminar, $275 for all four spring seminars.
  • May 19  Strategic Planning Issues (Church Business Administration Certification) – Charlotte campus.  Led by Ken McFayden.  $85 for this seminar, $275 for all four spring seminars.

Free Lectures:

  • March 14 The Dawe Lecture:  A Global Covenant of Religion?  Richmond campus, 7:30 – 9 p.m.  Presented by Peter Ochs.  There is no charge or registration for this lecture.
  • April 18 The Howie Lectures:  The Common Ground of Wonder: How a Biblical Scholar Works with Scientists.  Richmond campus.  Presented by William P. Brown.  There will be a seminar and conversation with a free lunch from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. on the topic, “From Ardi to Adam:        How Anthropology Rewrites Genesis.”  Registration is required for those who want lunch.  The evening lecture, “From Ash Heap to Asteroids:  How Astrobiology Rewrites Job,” will take place from 7:30 – 9 p.m. and does not require registration.

Both of these evening lectures will be live streamed at

For more information, go to

Union Presbyterian Seminary Offers course in Presbyterian Polity, Program, and Mission

The Leadership Institute at Union Presbyterian Seminary is offering a 30-hour non-credit hybrid course in Presbyterian Polity, Program, and Mission, beginning AT HOME on January 4, 2016, and ending with three days ON-CAMPUS in Richmond, February 1-3.  There will be approximately 18 hours of work at home and 12 hours on campus.

The course meets the requirements of Christian Educator Certification, but is also a great opportunity for elders and deacons, DCEs who are not seeking certification, Christian education committee members, CRE trainees, pastors, and interested church members.  It will be taught by the Rev. H. Carson Rhyne, Jr., General Presbyter and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the James.

Go to: for full information and instructions on how to register.  The cost of the class is $295, which includes lunch on campus on Tuesday, February 2.  Campus guest housing is available at $40 per night ($50 for two people sharing a room) but fills quickly.

Vibrant Fall, Winter Classes Enrolling Now at the Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary

Decatur, GA—The Center for Lifelong Learning at Columbia Theological Seminary is offering variety of residential and online classes for church leaders. While a few classes remain open for enrollment for 2015, the roster of classes for 2016 continues to grow. Early registration discounts are available for most courses, and participants are encouraged to register in plenty of time to complete any pre-course reading and assignments.

2015 Classes Still Enrolling

Nov. 9-13 Ignatian Spirituality A retreat experience introducing the posture, elements and purpose of the Ignatian Exercises. This is an experiential learning context for persons to get a ‘taste’ of the exercises and discern if the exercises are a path they feel called to fully engage.  Details and Registration

Nov. 16-18 (and Mar. 7-9, 2016) Leadership in Ministry (Atlanta) Learn how the concepts of family emotional process can be applied to the practice of ministry, and explore the theological implications of these concepts. Details and Registration

Nov. 21 Simply Advent: A Half-Day Retreat Pause, pray, reflect, and ground ourselves in the love and grace of God to begin the Advent season.  Details and Registration

A Sampler of Offerings for 2016

January 19-21 Grounded: Exploring the Sense of the Sacred Within Us and the World featuring Diana Butler Bass. Workshop leaders include Jake Myers, Tim Hartman, Haruko Ward and William Yoo. Details and Registration

January 28-31 Metaphors, Imagination, and the Art of the Psalms Explore the metaphorical landscape of the Psalter and reflect on how this artful language functions to nurture our spirituality, and infuse our lives and ministries with imagination. Details and Registration

Feb. 29-Mar. 2 Finance for Churches For congregational leaders, lay, staff, and clergy, who provide leadership in the congregation’s financial ministry. The focus of this course is practical wisdom and best practices related to church finance. Details and Registration

Feb. 16-18 Spirituality in the Smart Phone Age Centered on developing a theological grounding to navigate the joys and perils of this continually-evolving digital age, and practical wisdom to apply in the context of various ministry settings. Details and Registration

Mar. 31-Apr. 3 Sacred Survival: Engaging African American Spirituality Engage lived-experiences, stories, songs and rituals, and trace questions of African American spirituality as a source of survival, healing and hope for oppressed communities. Details and Registration

April 4-May 6 Reading Contemporary Confessions with a Global Perspective (Online Course) This course offers an opportunity to review four contemporary confessions and the purpose and function of confessional statements in the life of a church. Details and Registration

April 11-13 Spiritual Formation for Older Adults Consider the journey of aging in the last third of life as a series of stable periods and transitions, each with spiritual, theological and ethical issues. Details and Registration

April 14-16 Theological Reflections and Affirmations in Older Adulthood  This course will explore a number of theological concepts, with a particular focus on how these relate to older adulthood. Details and Registration

April 26-29 Can They See Your Church: Evangelism in the Visual Age (Thompson Scholars 2016) with Pastor Keith Anderson, author of Digital Cathedral,: Networked Ministry in a Wired World, and Ralph Basui Watkins. To apply, see

May 2-June 3 Thriving as a Church Ministry Staff Associate (an online course) The focus is on the role and function of pastoral and program associate staff in the congregational context. Understand staff relationships, staff functions, teamwork, personal professional skills, and relational intelligence in dealing with pastors, staff members, and congregational members.  Details and Registration

May 9-12 Being the Beloved Community: Welcoming Children of All Abilities to Church This conference will emphasize the theological and practical dimensions of this ministry;  participants will learn that every church can do something to transform relationships and practices. Details and Registration

Columbia Theological Seminary is committed to “educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God’s changing world.” The Center for Lifelong Learning offers courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people. For a list of classes offered by the Center for Lifelong Learning, visit

Contact Information:

Sarah Erickson
Center for Lifelong Learning

Journey to the Holy Land

An Ignatian Journey to the Holy Land

January 18-February 1, 2016

In this unique pilgrimage, you will experience the Holy Land through the powerful lens of Jesuit contemplation.

Your journey will be enriched throughout by the expertise of three professors whose specialties richly complement the goals and format of this trip: Patricia Tull, a professor of Hebrew Bible with 20 years of experience leading Middle East travel seminars; Anna Miller, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity; and Gillian Ahlgren, a professor of Christian History and Spirituality.

Visiting locations throughout Galilee, Jerusalem, and the Judean desert, we will engage the Ignatian spiritual exercises to deepen our understanding of place, suffering, and the reality of new life. This contemplation will allow us to enter into productive dialogue with the scriptural tradition and the complex socio-historical relationship of the three Abrahamic faith traditions rooted in the Holy Land. Our visits to sites of biblical and historical interest will be complemented by experiences with living faith communities in the Jewish, Christian, and
Muslim traditions.

Download more information

Columbia Accepting Applications for 2016 Thompson Scholars

Thompson Scholars 2016, Can They See Your Church? Evangelism in the Digital Age, will take place April 26–29, 2016 at the Center for Lifelong Learning on the Columbia Theological Seminary campus.

This is the visual age. The number one activity on the web is the posting of pictures and video. This workshop will empower leaders to rethink how we do evangelism in the visual age. The conversation and strategies will be deeply rooted theologically and sociologically as to why and how we might best engage the visual generation. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, the Peachtree Associate professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Theological Seminary, socio-theologian, photographer and visual storyteller, will lead this event along with the Rev. Dr. Keith Anderson, pastor of Dublin Lutheran Church near Philadelphia and the author of The Digital Cathedral:Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (required reading for the seminar).

To complete an application, click here. The application deadline is January 4, 2016. Applicants will be notified of their status by the end of January. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars. For additional information, including a link to the application, click here.

A program fee of $150 covers all course-related fees, on-campus meals and refreshments, and access to the online course site. Pre-course preparation will include required reading and participation in online discussions. Participants are responsible for their housing and transportation; on campus housing is available.

The Thompson Scholars program is generously supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at Columbia Seminary, making it possible to offer the seminar at a lower cost to participants than comparable programs at the Center for Lifelong Learning.

For more information, please contact Sarah Erickson, director of Lifelong Learning, at or 404-687-4526.

Columbia Theological Seminary is committed to “educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia Seminary offers seven accredited graduate degree programs and dozens of lifelong learning courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people.

Transitional Ministry Education (Interim Pastor Training)

The Synods of Lincoln Trails and Mid-America (MALT) have joined together to provide interim training every spring and fall to pastors nationwide. Transitional Ministry Education is intended for those presently engaged in interim ministry and those inquiring about this ministry. Committee on Ministry members and presbytery staff persons with responsibility for congregations in transition will also find the training helpful. The next interim pastor training will be April 20-24, 2015.

Find out more on the Synod of Lincoln Trails website.