Certificate Program in Christian Formation

Next session: June 15 -19, 2015

Online registration is open.

The following two courses are included:

Reflective Practice for Professional Development

The Rev. Kathleen S. Russell, D.Min.

Our experiences in ministry have a great deal to teach us, if we slow down and listen to what they have to tell us—about the work we are doing, how we relate to others and the values and commitments that inform our practices. These sessions offer participants time and space for reflection upon their ministry, as practice and as vocation, using a model that engages creativity and imagination rather than analysis and critique. This approach includes learning ways to use writing for reflection as a regular part of one’s work.

Take, Bless, Break, Share: Youth ministry as creedal, sacramental, missional and evangelical imperative

The Rev. Matthew Marino

Explore the scriptural, theological and practical underpinnings of our ancient faith to help usher in God’s Kingdom with a new generation. Over four days we will discuss:

1. Lambeth Quadrilateral Christianity - bishops, bible, creeds, and sacraments. Why they matter. Why they “work”.

2. Teaching the Bible to Youth: Principles of hermeneutics and exegesis (including speaking to student audiences).

3. Extending your reach - Recruiting, training, and encouraging incarnational leaders.

4. Opposites attract - Principles of ancient/future liturgical worship in youth/young adult ministry.  

For more information about the program contact Jean McGraw, Director of the Certificate Program, at 843.442.2692,  jean.mcgraw@ssw.edu. Registration deadline is June 8, 2015. Register online.


[The program] Gave me tools to work within the challenging environment of a parish church.

[I received] a stronger vision of hope for our church as a whole.

This course was inspiring and renewing for my ministry. It gave me a much clearer understanding of some of the dynamics of leadership in my congregation. The liturgical formation was quite powerful. By the end of the week, I had a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the Divine Service and had recovered much of my early joy as a Christian.

I came away from the course energized and with renewed enthusiasm for what I do.

It was great to be right on campus, and the food was absolutely fantastic! I felt quite cared for.


The Certificate Program in Christian Formation is designed to meet the needs of Christian educators and youth ministers, who seek to deepen their understanding of the Christian theological tradition. Working in peer groups taught by seminary faculty, students in the Certificate Program engage with scripture, history, ethics, and practical theology in a sequence of four sessions on the campus of Seminary of the Southwest. Designed as continuing education for practitioners in the field of Christian Education, the program empowers students to be more able ministers through strengthening their ability to speak the language of the Christian community in effective and creative ways. 


The theological vision for Christian formation is to assist Christians on their journey of faith. We explore how we as Christians can grow in the life of faith, and how we can participate in the Holy Spirit's transforming work. The Certificate Program invites the students from all denominational backgrounds to enrich their experience of the field in ways that are focused, coherent, and solidly grounded in Bible, church history, systematic theology, ethics, and practical theology.  The vision for the Certificate Program in Christian Formation brings together the rich and challenging experience of family, children, and youth ministry practitioners with focused theological reflection offered by our faculty. 


The theological vision above informs the learning objectives of the certificate program and its curriculum.  First, the certificate program is designed to build an informed faith; second,to build a conversational faith that engages personal, ecclesial, spiritual, and public life of a student; and third, to build a practicing faith that equips a student for Christian practices of witnessing, modeling, and teaching that allows them (children, youth and adults) to participate in the Body of Christ while pursuing the goals of growing in their faith in God in Christ, and becoming instruments of God's spreading of the Kingdom. 

The Certificate Program in Christian Formation will take two years to complete.  Beginning in June 2012, the program will meet twice a year, once in June and once in January. Two courses will be offered at each session.  In order to graduate from the program, students will take a total of eight courses in the following general areas:

  1. Biblical Studies
  2. Historical and Theological Studies 
  3. Ethics, Church and Society
  4. Liturgical and Pastoral Theology

The courses will be offered in a week-long format.  Some preparation will be required in advance of each session, and students will receive clear guidance in what is required of them. At the conclusion of each session, students will be asked to write a paper (around 1500 words) for each course.  That paper will be sent via e-mail to the instructor within three weeks from the day the instruction is over.

For more information about the program contact Jean McGraw, Director of the Certificate Program, at 843.442.2692,  jean.mcgraw@ssw.edu.


Facts about the Certificate Program

Classes -- Each course balances instruction, discussion, theological reflection, practical ministry skills, worship and spiritual formation. Regular worship is an important part of each session. The interplay of study and prayer is integral to the intent of the program.

Faculty -- Professors from Seminary of the Southwest and other qualified instructors make up the faculty of the Certificate Program.

Location -- Program sessions are held on the campus of Southwest. Located in the center of Austin, the seminary is a welcoming community featuring an innovative library, the Episcopal Church's Archives, a chapel open to a variety of worship, and a neighborhood that includes the University of Texas and two other seminaries. Meals at the seminary are first-rate, the accommodations comfortable, and Austin's legendary music scene awaits you.

Enrollment Prerequisites -- Lay and ordained persons of all denominations are welcome. A college degree or GRE scores are not necessary for enrollment.

Cost -- Room (double occupancy) and board on campus are included in the $1100 registration fee. Single occupancy room is available for an additional $250.

Commuter Fee is $950 (this includes tuition and meals for the week)

Payment is due prior to 1st day of class. 

Session Dates --   June 15-19, 2015 and you may register online.

How to Apply -- Contact Jean McGraw, director of the program at jean.mcgraw@ssw.edu