This certificate, awarded on completion of eight semester courses, may be tailored to fulfill the education requirements for the position of Commissioned Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It can also be taken out of general interest in theological study or adapted to the specialized needs of individuals or groups.
The PC(USA) Book of Order, G-14.0801, indicates that Commissioned Lay Pastors shall be instructed in Bible, Reformed theology and sacraments, Presbyterian polity, preaching, leading worship, pastoral care, and teaching. Following these guidelines, SFTS collaborates with the governing bodies such as synods in the preparation of Commissioned Lay Pastors by offering a Certificate of Ministry Studies (C.M.S.) that encompasses these subject areas. Certain seminary courses, including the introductory courses in Old and New Testament, Reformed theology, preaching, Presbyterian history and polity, Reformed worship and sacraments, pastoral care and counseling, Christian education, mission, and evangelism are designed as appropriate to a C.M.S. program for training lay pastors.
Given that presbyteries have the exclusive right to determine the qualifications for a Commissioned Lay Pastor, SFTS does not claim, nor would the award of a Certificate in Ministry Studies declare, that the C.M.S. program automatically qualifies a person to be a Commissioned Lay Pastor. The C.M.S. provides a structured way for a candidate to acquire the educational component of the qualifications determined by the presbytery.
Education for the C.M.S. is offered at the master's level. The credits earned in the C.M.S. program may later be applied to a seminary degree if the student is admitted to a degree program at SFTS or another seminary. The student must apply for admission to the degree program through the regular process. Courses taken prior to admission will be evaluated by the SFTS Registrar for possible transfer of credit and/or advanced standing in the degree program.
Students pursuing the C.M.S. ordinarily register as unclassified or non-degree students. Normally a bachelor's degree is required for admission to the M.Div. degree program and expected of those who enroll in graduate level courses as unclassified students. By special arrangement, persons lacking the bachelor's degree may pursue the C.M.S. by enrolling as auditors, rather than unclassified students. Those with less than two years of undergraduate education may attend classes only as auditors.
For further information, please contact:
The SFTS Admissions Office