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Certificate Programs: Diploma in Lay Pastoral Ministry


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Churches and religious organizations are looking for qualified men and women to serve in non-ordained positions of pastoral leadership in the church. Unfortunately, many otherwise-qualified people are reluctant to pursue these positions because they feel inadequately prepared biblicallyand theologically, or they lack the practical skills they need to be successful in ministry. Others are already involved in ministry positions but feel limited by their lack of both training and ongoing opportunities for development and support.

Whitworth's non-degree Diploma in Lay Pastoral Ministry Program is designed to help train, equip, and support lay people to serve more effectively as commissioned lay pastors and lay ministers and in other paid and unpaid lay-leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church (USA), as well as in other denominations.

This program is especially designed for people who live at a distance from Whitworth University and who can study only in condensed blocks of time. The program can be completed in as little as two years of study (attending two weeks during two successive summers), or it can be lengthened, depending upon the student's needs. Students may take all of the courses to received the diploma, or they may enroll in individual courses for their own personal growth and enrichment. The program is open to all interested participants regardless of ministry experience and educational/denominational background.

Program Format

To earn the diploma in lay pastoral ministry, students must complete the following:

  • Eight foundational courses;
  • Two additional educational experiences (such as workshops or seminars) of each students's choosing during the months between the summers of study. These experiences may include online courses and/or other educational events that help the student gain understanding and skills in his or her area of interest.
  • Reading assignments (and/or other assignments) to be completed prior to each module of study.
  • Post-class papers and/or projects to be completed in each student's local ministry context.

Program Schedule

Courses meet 9 a.m.-noon and 2-5 p.m. Monday-Friday each week. During the months between summer sessions, students will do required reading and work on papers or projects.

Because of the pre-class reading required for each summer session, the deadline to register is May 7.

Program Faculty

The faculty for the Diploma in Lay Pastoral Ministry Program comprises Whitworth faculty and staff and other qualified instructors.

What Students Say about the Program

I have been impressed by Whitworth's commitment to help lay ministry students prepare for their roles and by the quality and sincerity of all of the professors who educate and shape us for service.  I am truly regretful that my time in the program has come to an end.  I look forward to future opportunities to participate in educational experiences at Whitworth. Ruth Willford, '08

The schedule is the key to this program. Being in community has multiplied the experience tenfold. I don't think the benefits of studying in a block of time can be emphasized enough. Jean Shofner

Why consider this program?

Have you ever wanted to facilitate a Bible study or teach a Sunday school class but did not feel you had a deep enough understanding of basic theology, church history, and the Bible?  Are you feeling a call to some form of Christian service but are hesitant to respond because you do not feel adequately prepared in the ‘nuts and bolts' of ministry?   Do you sense that you may have spiritual gifts for serving God but lack confidence in how to lead and/or manage highly complex religious organizations?   Have you been putting off serving the Lord because of fear, lack of training, or procrastination?  Are you a committed follower of Jesus Christ and feeling called to sharpen your ministry skills so that God can use you in even greater ways?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to any of these questions, then the Diploma In Lay Pastoral Ministry program is for you!  This program will give you a basic overview of Christian history, theology, and the major themes of the Old and New Testament.  You will learn about preaching, pastoral care, leadership, worship and the sacraments and other practical topics that will help you equip children, youth, and adults be more active followers of Jesus Christ.  You will also learn valuable ministry skills that will enable you to serve God in whatever ministry capacity he might place you.           

Summer 2012 Course Descriptions

Session 1: June 4-8 (choose one course per time slot)
9 a.m.-Noon

Survey of the Old Testament
Provides a comprehensive overview of the literary form, structure, and content of the Old Testament.
Instructor: Scott Starbuck, Ph.D.

  Christian Theology
Provides an overview of the major doctrines and beliefs of the Christian faith.
Instructor: Karen Petersen Finch, Ph.D.
2-5 p.m. Polity and Church Leadership
Focuses on functioning as an effective leader, on ways to analyze the congregation for ministry, and on how our denominational polity works and enhances ministry. This will be a practical "nuts and bolts" course focusing on you and your ministry.
Instructors: Tim Dolan, Ph.D., and Rick Melin, D.Min.
  Pastoral Care and Ministry
Highlights some of the pastoral care and people-helping skills that are helpful in any position of ministry.
Instructor: Sheryl Kinder Pyle, M.Div.
Session 2: June 11-15 (choose one course per time slot)
9 a.m.-noon Preaching: Principles and Practice
Features a study of communication in ministry, including preparation and delivery of biblical messages, audience analysis, and small-group leadership.
Instructor: Ron Pyle, Ph.D.
  Survey of the New Testament
Highlights the content and theology of the New Testament in light of its literary, historical and religious background.
Instructor: Keith Beebe, Ph.D.
2-5 p.m.

Introduction to Church History
Provides an overview of the major themes, events, and spiritual movements that have shaped the Christian church through the centuries.
Instructor: Bruce Gore, J.D.

  Worship and the Sacraments
Provides students with an introduction to the theology, history and current practice of worship in Christian churches.
Instructor: Ben Brody, D.M.A.

For Graduates of the Program:

We are pleased to offer a special week-long course for graduates of the program. For further information, contact Michelle Pace at 509.777.3275 or mpace@whitworth.edu.

Program Cost

  • $275 per course (books not included)
  • Room and board (see registration form)

Payment Policy

  • $100 non-refundable deposit (required at the time of registration and included in tuition fees)
  • 10% discount (on tuition only) if payment in full is received by April 23.
  • Payment in full is expected by the registration deadline (May 7).
  • Students who recruit a new student into the program will receive a $75 credit on one course, or a $75 gift certificate to the Whitworth bookstore.
  • Scholarships are available. Contact Michelle Pace for an application.

Cancellation Refund Policy

  • Prior to May 7, 100% of amount paid, excluding deposit.
  • After May 7 and before May 21, 100% of paid room and board fees, 50% of paid tuition fees (excluding deposit).
  • After May 21, no refunds

Statement of Student's Financial Policy:
Submission of registration forms obligates the student for payment of tuition and fees including a 1.5-percent-per-month service charge that may be assessed on unpaid balances, as well as any subsequent collection expenses and fees, and implies acceptance of the university's financial policies. It is the student's responsibility to pay bills in a timely manner.

For further information, contact Michelle Pace at mpace@whitworth.edu.

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