Certificate in Spiritual Formation
A Partnership Program of Columbia Theological Seminary
and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
For more than 20 years, Columbia and Pittsburgh seminaries have partnered to offer courses leading to the Certificate in Spiritual Formation, a journey through which modern-day, world-weary pilgrims may quench their spiritual thirst. The Certificate in Spiritual Formation offers people in the pulpit, in the pew, in all denominations and stages of life, an exploration of community-grounded Christian spirituality that is rooted in scripture, theology, a history of the tradition, reading in the spiritual classics, prayer and meditation, and in skills for assisting others on a spiritual journey. You will learn spiritual practices experientially, and, at the same time, develop skills for helping others in their spiritual growth. And, as seminary faculty members and other carefully selected, experienced teachers guide you through structured study, you will discover the relationship in Christian spirituality between compassion, justice, and effective ministry.
For a list of current courses and descriptions, please select the sponsoring school below.
The program is designed to be completed in three to five years. Program components include the following:
- Immersion Experience (week or weekend)
- 6 Elective Courses (week or weekend)
- Pilgrimage (or 2 additional electives)
The Immersion Experience should be taken at your “home” institution, either Columbia or Pittsburgh. Two elective courses will transfer between partner institutions.
Weeklong courses run Sunday evening through noon on Friday. Weekend courses begin Thursday evening and end Sunday afternoon.
Forms and Procedures
Immersion Experience: An Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life
Offered in both a weeklong and a weekend format, this course provides an introduction to the origins of the Christian spiritual tradition including Old Testament, New Testament, monastic, and Reformed spirituality. You will have opportunities to reflect on your own spiritual journey and to develop resources for helping others on such a journey. Many participants choose this course as the starting point for their studies toward the certificate.
In your elective courses, you will examine Christian spirituality from various dimensions: biblical, theological, historical, literary, social, doctrinal, ecclesial, and practical.
A sampling of elective courses:
Spiritual Retreats: Design and Leadership
Prayer in Many Forms
Psalms: Gospel in a Nutshell
The practicum offers you the opportunity to develop and strengthen leadership skills in the practice of Christian spirituality. With guidance from experienced leaders, you will conceive, design and lead an act of ministry.
A sampling of practium projects:
Leading a spiritual retreat
Forming a small group for prayer, study, support, and outreach
Creating a ministry of compassion to meet the needs of homeless children
Hosting a spiritual formation group in one’s workplace
Introducing opportunities for spiritual formation into church officer’s training
When you complete all the other requirements for the certificate, you are eligible to participate in an extended pilgrimage to a location of historical spiritual significance. This pilgrimage provides an opportunity for you to reflect on learnings from the program as you share the experience with other participants. It is also a time to deepen your experience of Christian spirituality by praying, reflecting, and meditating in holy places such as the Holy Land; the isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland, and Ghost Ranch in the New Mexico desert.
If you are unable to participate in a pilgrimage, you may meet this requirement for the certificate by completing two additional elective courses.
Note: Columbia also offers a Doctor of Ministry with an emphasis in Christian Spirituality. The program is open to pastors of any denomination who have completed the MDiv degree or its equivalent and who meet other requirements of admission.