Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Lifelong Learning

Compass Points Certificate Courses: Biblical and Theological Foundations

Date: 2/21/2016 - 2/24/2016

This course will explore biblical foundations, methods of interpretation and resources for scriptural study within the unique context of camp and conference ministry. Participants will be introduced to the basics of theology, an overview of historical creeds, and how theology shapes the practice of ministry in our camp and conference centers.

Leaders:  Martha Moore-Keish and Mardee Rightmyer.

Details and Registration

Compass Points Certificate Course: Program Design and Implementation

Date: 2/24/2016 - 2/27/2016

Course content will include an overview of human growth and developmental in relation to Christian education. Learners will encounter a variety of models of teaching, as well as methods of curriculum and program development, interpretation, implementation, and evaluation in a camp and conference setting. Participants will explore camp, conference and retreat models and how they are an extension of a ministry’s mission statement.

Leaders: Kathy Dawson and Joel Winchip

Details and Registration

Immersion Experience: An Invitation to a Deeper Spiritual Life

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Date: 2/25/2016 - 2/28/2016

Discover the key ideas and foundational practices for the grand adventure of a deeper spiritual life! During this Thursday evening - Sunday afternoon course, you will explore the origins of the Christian spiritual tradition, while learning the formative elements of Biblical, monastic, and Christian spirituality from the Reformation onward. The schedule includes time for personal reflection through guided journaling — an exercise for exploring your own unique journey with the living God. You will also get to know fellow participants in small group and one-on-one settings, which will support your practical application of the knowledge acquired throughout the course 

Instructors: CTS Faculty

Finance for Churches

Date: 2/29/2016 - 3/2/2016

This program is for congregational leaders--lay, staff, clergy--who provide leadership in the congregation’s financial ministry. This course addresses the needs of congregational leaders to understand and provide effective and efficient ways to implement church finances to support the ministries of the congregation. The focus of this course is practical knowledge and best practices related to church finance. An early registration discount is available through November 1, 2015. 

Instructor: Steve Law, Principle, at Financial Leadership for Churches

Reading Contemporary Confessions from a Global Perspective

(an online course)

Date: 4/4/2016 - 5/6/2016

This five-week online course offers an opportunity to those who work in congregational or other ministry settings to review four contemporary confessions and the purpose and function of confessional statements in the life of a church. As we read these different theological documents from four different parts of the world, and through the interactive online discussion with the course leader and our peers, we will strive to deepen our understanding of these statements in conversation with other confessions of our traditions and our own contexts of ministry. 

Leader: Margit Ernst-Habib

Details and Registration

Spiritual Formation and Older Adults

(Older Adult Ministry Certificate Course)

Date: 4/11/2016 - 4/13/2016

The last third of life presents some of life’s great spiritual challenges. This course explores the journey of aging as a series of stable periods and transitions, each with spiritual, theological and ethical issues—aging and frailty, taking responsibility, finding meaning, being in relationships, leaving a legacy, facing diminishment and death.

Instructor: Henry C. Simmons, PhD

Details and Registration

Theological Reflections and Affirmations during Older Adulthood

(Older Adult Ministry Certificate Course)

Date: 4/14/2016 - 4/16/2016

This course will explore a number of theological concepts, with a particular focus on how these relate to older adulthood, including the following: heaven; resurrection; the realm of God’s rule; guilt and forgiveness; bereavement; the nature of body/soul; cremation vs. burial or donation of body to science; organ donation; medical ethics related to end-of-life issues; aging as God’s plan for human life; and the church as a caring and supporting community. Using Scripture, creeds and confessions and drawing upon the assigned readings in Christian Doctrine (revised edition), we will reflect theologically on our present, and past, understanding of these concepts. 

Instructor: Rev. Marvin Simmers, Ed.D.

Details and Registration

Wisdom of the Christian Mystics

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Date: 4/21/2016 - 4/24/2016

The Christian mystics are men and women from every generation who enjoyed a profound sense of God’s presence — even “union” with God — in their lives. Over the centuries, the mystics have included men and women, clergy and lay, Catholic and Protestant, rich and poor, educated and ordinary. What they share in common is their love of God and whole-hearted approach to living the Gospel in their daily lives.

What can we learn from these heroes of the faith? Do the great mystics have anything to say to us today?

This course will introduce you to some of the greatest Christian mystics, from well-known figures like Francis of Assisi and Julian of Norwich to lesser known (but important) individuals like John Cassian and Jan Ruusbroec. We’ll look at some of their key writings, reflect on the major themes and principles of Christian mysticism, explore how their teachings on prayer can be applied in our lives today, and discuss how we can apply their wisdom to Christian discipleship here in the third millennium. 

Instructor:  Carl McColman       

Location: Montreat Conference Center

Details and Registration

Can They See Your Church? Evangelism in the Visual Age (Thompson Scholars 2016)

Application deadline extended to January 22, 2016

Date: 4/26/2016 - 4/29/2016

This is the visual age. The number one activity on the web is the posting of pictures and video. This workshop will empower leaders to rethink how we do evangelism in the visual age. The conversation and strategies will be deeply rooted theologically and sociologically as to why and how we might best engage the visual generation. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, the Peachtree Associate professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Theological Seminary, socio-theologian, photographer and visual storyteller, will lead this event along with the Rev. Dr. Keith Anderson, pastor of Dublin Lutheran Church near Philadelphia and the author of The Digital Cathedral Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (required reading for the seminar).

This is an application-based program. Qualified applicants will be accepted until we reach maximum enrollment. The application process is closed as of Jan. 25, 2016.  Applicants will be notified of their status by the first week of February. Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars. For additional information, click HERE.

Attuning Yourself to the Sacred Within: A Contemplative Retreat

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Date: 5/2/2016 - 5/6/2016

You are invited to set aside the rigor of daily life, to rest and attend to the presence of God within. This week-long retreat will include times of silence and solitude, plenary sessions with experienced leaders, contemplative spiritual practices, and gentle conversation in small groups. Whether you are a long-time practitioner of contemplative prayer or a curious seeker, this retreat is an opportunity to rest, renew and grow in the contemplative life.

LeadersDeedra Rich and Ben Campbell Johnson

LocationSacred Heart Monastery, Cullman Alabama

Details and Registration

Thriving As a Church Ministry Staff Associate

An Online MOOC Course

Date: 5/2/2016 - 6/3/2016

The focus of this course is on the role and function of pastoral and program associate staff in the congregational context. Understand staff relationships, staff functions, teamwork, personal professional skills, and relational intelligence in dealing with pastors, staff members, and congregational members. This is a MOOC (Mini Open Online) course.

Instructors: Israel Galindo

Being the Beloved Community: Welcoming Children of All Abilities to Church

Date: 5/9/2016 - 5/12/2016

Where to start? What questions should we be asking? What can we do at church and in our communities when the needs arise? These and other questions will be considered during this conference, which will explore the theological and practical dimensions of this ministry. Participants will learn that every church can do something to transform relationships and practices. Dr. Bethany McKinney-Fox (M.Div. ’06), director of Student Services at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Mark Crenshaw, MTS, director of Interdisciplinary Training at Georgia State University and former Executive Director of  the Interfaith Disability Network, will keynote. Barbara Newman, Director of Church Services, Teacher Consultant, and author for the CLC Network, will present workshops on autism and on inclusive worship.  A total of eight workshops, four plenary sessions and a panel discussion will complete the conference schedule. 

Details and Registration 

Spiritual Direction Advanced Training

Date: 5/18/2016 - 5/20/2016

The Spirituality Program is partnering with Together in the Mystery to offer a one-year training program for spiritual director supervisors. The training program is for experienced spiritual directors who seek to serve as supervisors for spiritual directors and spiritual directors in training.

“Spiritual directors seek supervision as they attempt to grow in their ability to notice and respond to God’s presence during spiritual direction sessions,” says Maria Bowen, cofounder of Together in the Mystery. Dr. Bowen explains that “Spiritual director supervisors mentor, teach, and consult with spiritual directors as they grow in their abilities.”

This program was created for previously certified spiritual directors who wish to help other spiritual directors as they:

  • identify what opens them to God’s presence during sessions and what distracts them
  • offer spiritual direction ethically and with integrity
  • celebrate their strengths

Participants in the spiritual directors supervisor training program will begin by gathering for a beginning weekend of contemplative practice, participate in a year-long instructor supervised practicum, and conclude with an ending weekend of contemplative practice. Click here for details on the training program, or for application information.

Applications are being accepted now through Together in the Mystery.  Space is limited. Please apply by February 10, 2016 to ensure enrollment in the program. 

Hospitality as Spiritual Practice: The Welcoming Voice of the Book of Ruth

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Date: 6/12/2016 - 6/15/2016

The practice of hospitality involves far more than tasty casseroles and readied guest rooms.  In fact, the ability to live hospitably with the people around us – friends and strangers – is a result of developing a deeper sense of the meaning and practice of hospitality in our lives.

The Old Testament book of Ruth has certainly been misplaced in the Christian Bible and too often ignored in Christian thought. If read in its historical and original literary context, however, it serves as a pivotal book for all people of faith.  Our prayerful study of the Book of Ruth will introduce us to the deep discipline of hospitality – hospitality to far more than just a visitor in our home.  The hospitality embedded in Ruth’s story encourages us to open our arms and hearts to: life on life’s terms, God on God’s terms, grace beyond imagination and the inevitable evolution of faith and faith practice. 

Housing will be at local hotels. Holiday Inn Express in downtown Greenville is highly recommended and a short drive to the church.  You will need to make your own room reservation.

Leaders: Jim Dant and Debra Weir 

Location: First Baptist Church, Greenville, SC 

Details and Registration

Who Is Jesus? What a Difference a Lens Makes

(2016-17 Horizons Bible Study Author Course)

Date: 8/1/2016 - 8/3/2016

This is the popular author’s course designed to prepare leaders of the Horizons Bible Study for the coming year.  Who Is Jesus? What a Difference a Lens Makes invites leaders and participants of Presbyterian Women Circles and church school study groups to look through nine different lenses referring to Jesus. Course participants will share with  ne another how they  see and experience the various lenses and how these different perspectives impact who they understand Jesus to be, the implications for being his disciple, and how to facilitate learning in their study groups.. Join Judy Yates Siker, author of this year’s study, for this event. Early registration and discounts for 2+ from same group available.

Please note that there will not be a weekend version of the Horizon's Bible Study leader training this year.

Instructor: Judy Yates Siker

Details and Registration

Money and Your Ministry

Online Course

Date: 8/8/2016 - 8/31/2016

Using the current book by Margaret Marcuson by the same title, this course will focus on helping participants interpret and reframe their understanding about money in the congregation and approach the issue of money in the church from a less anxious frame of reference.

Instructor: Margaret Marcuson

Details and Registration

Henri J. M. Nouwen: Be Still! Be Loved! Be Grateful! Three Imperatives of the Spiritual Life

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Date: 9/22/2016 - 9/25/2016

Henri Nouwen, the author and priest who described the minister—every Christianas The Wounded Healer, published 40 books on the spiritual life during his lifetime, and more posthumously. Readers of his serious reflections who never had the opportunity to meet or hear him may miss his charisma, humor, and playful personality. His student and lifelong friend Chris Glaser brings these dimensions into a review of Nouwen’s contributions to Christian spirituality through personal stories, audiotape and videotape.

Location:  Columbia Theological Seminary

Instructor: Chris Glaser

Details and Registration Coming Soon!

Contemporary Readings in Christian Education: Christian Formation

Online Course

Date: 10/31/2016 - 12/2/2016

This course is part of the “Contemporary Readings Series” for persons interested in deepening their understanding of contemporary issues in Christian Education. Through selected readings in the literature, studies, and writings of contemporary writers and researchers in the field of Christian Education, participants will review current topics and trends that impact and inform ministry practice. This year’s focus is on the subject of “formation,” a popular phrase that has almost replaced “education” as an approach to educating in faith in congregations. It’s a concept many use, but few may really understand. This is a five week online course. Dates: October 31 to December 2, 2016. The cost of this course is $180.00. Early registration discount at $150.00 applies through September 30, 2016.

Desert Spiritual Traditions of the Southwest Domestic Pilgrimage

Certificate in Spiritual Formation

Date: 11/1/2016 - 11/13/2016

Pilgrimage is one of the oldest and most important spiritual disciplines, and the capstone of the Certificate in Spiritual Formation.  In this pilgrimage we will explore the Desert Southwest in northern New Mexico and engage many of the diverse spiritual traditions that settled there.  Daily excursions will include communities such as Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Chimayo, Dar al Islam Mosque, Taos Hanuman Temple, and Taos , Santa Clara, and Tesuque Pueblos.  We will be staying on Ghost Ranch at Casa Del Sol.  This pilgrimage is jointly sponsored by Columbia and Pittsburgh Theological Seminaries and will include leaders and participants from both programs.  Eligible participants must have completed all other certificate course work by March 15, 2016.

Information and Application

Growing Into Tomorrow…Today (Board of Pensions Retirement Planning Seminar)

Date: 11/1/2016 - 11/2/2016

Planning for retirement can be challenging. This free-two day seminary is for members of the PCUSA Board of Pensions and guests planning to retire within the next fifteen years. Look beyond finances to inform, educate, and inspire a journey toward wholeness in retirement. Seminar attendees will:

  • Identify key questions for discernment;
  • Assess their finances, options for saving before retirement, and reasonable expectations for retirement living;
  • Define and discuss retirement healthcare and housing options; and
  • Create their next steps in life balance, relationships, housing, health and finances

The seminar will be led by a Board of Pensions Education Specialist and retirement planning consultants. Seating is limited to 30 participants. Registration for this seminar will open in July 2015. For questions, please contact Board University at or 800-773-7752, extension 7223.

NOTE: Following registration through the Board of Pensions, participants will receive detailed instructions about how to register for housing and meals.

Instructors: Board of Pensions Education Team 

The Hidden Lives of Congregations

An Online Course

Date: 2/5/2018 - 3/2/2018

This course is a study of the often unseen congregational dynamics the affect the life of a congregation. Special attention will be given to the nature of congregations as a particular model of the Church. By reading the course textbook, The Hidden Lives of Congregations by Israel Galindo, participating in formal guided discussions, reflecting on their personal experience, and examining latent concepts and assumptions about congregations, Church, and leadership, students will gain a new understanding of their congregation and their leadership roles.

Instructor: Israel Galindo

Details and Registration Coming Soon!