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People of various ages and backgrounds come to Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) to attend courses in the seminary’s new certificate programs in such areas as pastoral care, theology, church planting, youth ministry, and missions, or to participate in the new Diploma in Ministry Program.

Students attending class at CTS

These are not degree programs but courses of study intended for ministry and personal enrichment. The graduate level courses offered in the certificate programs are also offered as part of other degree programs at CTS.

“We have had a mixed bag of students. This is not ‘seminary lite,’” says Prof. Darwin Glassford, who directs the master’s degree programs and also oversees the certificate and diploma programs at CTS.

“These programs are beneficial for several groups of people,” says Joan Beelen, registrar for CTS. “[They] provide an opportunity for volunteer or paid ministry staff to gain a strong theological underpinning for the ministry in which they’re already engaged.”

In addition, she says, the programs provide “a good stepping stone for those who are considering a master’s degree but aren’t sure of their plans. It gives them a taste of seminary.”

The certificate and diploma programs emerged out of an overall evaluation CTS did of its curriculum in 2008 and 2009.

“We wanted to make our programs accessible to those who would not otherwise access them,” says Glassford, a professor of church education at CTS.

A process has started, he says, to eventually put modified versions of the courses for the new programs online to make them more attractive to students who may already be working.

Students are required to take a few core courses, including one on Reformed doctrine and a Bible survey course. They then can branch out and take classes in inner-city ministry, overseas missions, world religions from a Christian perspective, or how to provide pastoral care to people facing difficult circumstances.

CTS’s Diploma in Ministry program, geared largely toward the training of ministry associates, is newer than the certificate programs. There are already many ministry associates serving in many capacities in CRC congregations, and there have been various educational options for them.

As of yet, there is no officially recognized program for training ministry associates. CTS, now that it has a program, is discussing the issue with other groups.

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