A Korean-American pastor serving in the Philippines, a denominational leader, a pastor from Northern Ireland, and a retired Church of God in Christ minister seeking new ways of education for his denomination are members of the first cohort of students in Calvin Theological Seminary’s new Doctor of Ministry program.
Years in the making, the program launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall of 2020 as students tuned in online to meet with one another and begin their course work.
Taking between three to five years to complete, this program of study is an alternative to a Doctor of Ministry program for which a pastor must have the means and time to spend several years on a campus working toward the degree. Those programs have developed over time, but CTS had the opportunity to start from scratch, adapting its program to the realities of who makes up congregations, how congregations worship, and how pastors function today.
“We have structured the program to reflect a global church that is diverse in many respects,” said Danjuma Gibson, co-director of the new program and professor of pastoral care at CTS.
“A lot of people in ministry are second career or bivocational,” he said. “Ours is a deeply Reformed program serving the global church. We see Reformed theology, with its high view of Scripture, as very important.”
Aaron Einfeld, director of admissions, added, “The seminary is trying to provide a wider range of options for people in the church. We want to be serving more folks.”
This is a program in which students—all of whom must be currently working in ministry—and faculty will work together to identify and fulfill the desires and goals that students bring to the program. Essentially, students will focus on issues they want to address in their ministries.
“We are inviting a plurality of leaders to be part of the program,” said Geoff Vandermolen, co-director of the program and director of vocational formation at CTS. “We are asking, ‘What kind of person, leader, scholar, and pastoral presence do you want to be?’”
The program offers a combination of personal reflection, spiritual formation and development, course work through electives, and directed doctoral studies. Students will write a dissertation to round out their coursework and research.
“I can’t wait to see and hear what they come up with to help serve the church,” said Vandermolen.
A large portion of the work will take place—in conjunction with CTS faculty—in the students’ pastoral settings. In addition, students will spend time on campus twice a year.
“We will meet for a week, and then students will go back out to their pastoral settings,” Gibson said.
Scholars and practitioners from Calvin University and perhaps other institutions are likely to be part of the program, interacting with students in their areas of focus.
“We want to help students to be the scholars they want to be and the pastors they want to be and to do that with a broad Reformed expression,” Vandermolen said.