For church staff, laity and students looking to enhance their practical skills and knowledge, Perkins is offering a new option: the Perkins Certification in Practical Ministry, beginning in January 2022.

“This certification is designed to equip students with practical knowledge and tools to empower them in their life-long spiritual journey and ministry,” said the Rev. Heather Gottas Moore, assistant director of lifelong learning and coordinator of the program. “It’s a great way for lay and clergy people to expand and enhance their education related to ministry in the church and beyond.”

To earn the Certification, students will complete five graduate-level, two-hour noncredit courses. Those will include three required courses — Engaging Theology, Engaging the Bible and either Adaptive Leadership or, for those seeking UM certification, United Methodist Studies – as well as two courses in a chosen area of specialization.

Beginning in January 2022, the program will offer options to concentrate in Disability Theology & Ministry, Evangelism, Ministry with Children and Ministry with Youth. In addition, concentrations will be offered in Christian Spirituality (in partnership with the Certificate in Spiritual Direction program) and Interim Ministry (in partnership with Transitional Intentional Interim Ministry Specialist Association of The United Methodist Church.)

Program leaders look forward to exploring additional topics in 2023 and beyond, tentatively planned to include (but not limited to) Camp & Retreat Ministry, Church Leadership, Ministry on the Margins, Ministry with Adults, Ministry with Young Adults, Sexuality and the Church, Contextual Ministry (Rural, Urban, Extension) and Women & Gender Studies.

Courses will be taught on campus in Dallas in January and in May and will be graded on a pass/fail basis; students must pass all courses to receive a certificate. Students may complete a certification at their own pace, typically within two to five years.

Some specializations may be combined to create unique certification areas. For example, a student may combine Children’s and Youth Ministry or Youth and Young Adult Ministry courses to create a broader specialization in Faith Formation.  These combinations will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the certification staff.

Moore expects the program will be of particular interest to five groups: Church staff seeking training opportunities to expand their theology and ministry toolbox for the ministry context within which they serve; laity looking for theological educational opportunities that feed their desire for lifelong learning and expand their theological understanding in practical, applicable ways; undergraduate students; current Perkins students desiring concentrated study in a ministry area outside of their current curricular opportunity at Perkins; and Perkins alumni interested in continuing education opportunities in specific ministry areas.

She added that the Certification courses also give students an avenue for exploring theological education.

“Certification programs allow students to get a taste of what seminary would be like,” Moore said. ““By combining relevant, applicable studies in the practice of ministry with a robust theological framework, students get a glimpse for how graduate theological education can impact the work they do in the church every day.”

Applications or the first term, January 2022, are being accepted through November 19, 2021.

For more information, visit the Certification Program website at:  https://www.smu.edu/Perkins/PublicPrograms/Certificate-in-Practical-Ministry