“The only people who see the whole picture are those who step outside the frame.” - Indo-British novelist Salman Rushdie

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s World Mission Initiative is organizing four intercultural trips in 2023 to help participants see their own ministry with new eyes by stepping outside their context. These trips are part of a required Intercultural/Experiential Learning course (MI 310) that is offered by the Seminary every January Term. This course will provide pre- and post-experience orientation and reflection in cultural proficiency and anti-racism, intercultural communication, a theology of short-term mission engagement, area studies for the specific context to be studied, and spiritual practices for mission. 

Since 2001, WMI has sent 987 individuals to 61 countries.

Read reflections from previous student participants.

The Seminary's required intercultural experiences for MDiv students puts PTS in a category of its own in U.S. theological education. No other seminary is investing the resources PTS is to get our students and faculty to the cutting edge of where God is engaging in mission today.


Hunter Farrell, WMI Director
Student Reflections
Seminarians reflect on their recent intercultural mission trips to Cuba and the Philippines.

January 2024 Trips

Appalachia: Understanding Our Region’s Appalachian Roots

Travel Dates: Jan. 12-21, 2024

Co-Leaders: Dr. Tucker Ferda, the Rev. Bala Khyllep and Stacie Fugate, with support of Appalachian Ministries Education Resource Center (AMERC)

There is not a church in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania that has not been shaped by the cultures of Appalachia, the large mountainous area of the Eastern U.S. extending from Southern New York to Northeast Georgia that is often characterized by outsiders as “poor” and “backward.” But a journey to understand poverty in Appalachia can help free us of simplistic—and often racialized—notions of poverty. Time spent with church and community leaders will help us better understand the peoples of Appalachia and the structural and generational nature of poverty in the larger cultural and economic region in which Pittsburgh is located.

Trip leaders Dr. Tucker Ferda (associate professor of New Testament), the Rev. Bala Khyllep (WMI) and Stacie Fugate (a young Appalachian social activist from Hazard, Ky., who founded Appalachians for Appalachia and InVision Hazard) will accompany the group from Pittsburgh to Hazard KY, to Berea, Ky., and other communities. Berea is the cultural and educational capital of the central Appalachian region, while Hazard, Ky., is a center of the coal industry that embodies the extractive industries’ legacy of mountaintop removal, strip mining, and labor injustices. The role of Appalachian Christians and social organizations in the struggle against poverty and for sustainable development with dignity will be examined and we’ll reflect on God’s call to us in the face of endemic poverty everywhere. The trip is being organized in conjunction with and supported by the Appalachian Ministry Educational Resource Center (AMERC).

Ghana: Post-Colonial Theology and Witness

Travel Dates: Jan. 12-21, 2024

Co-Leaders: The Rev. Dr. AnneMarie Mingo, the Rev. Ben Nti, and the Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell

Jesus used the Scriptures, parables, and proverbs of first century Judaism to communicate the good news of the extravagant grace of God’s Realm. In every time and cultural context, Christians must contextualize the ancient gospel message into terms understandable in their own languages and cultures. Dr. AnneMarie Mingo (associate professor of ethics, culture, and moral leadership), PTS alumnus the Rev. Bernard Nti (Westmont Presbyterian, Johnstown, PA), and Dr. Hunter Farrell (WMI) will accompany students to learn how Ghanaian Christians are engaged in contextualizing the Gospel into the 21st-century cultures of Ghana, West Africa, the Ghanaian diaspora in Europe and North America, and beyond. Their learnings can help the U.S. Christians free the Gospel from the staid, antiquated forms of church life in our own contexts.

The PTS group will travel to the bustling Ghanian capital of Accra, visit the Akrofi-Kristaller Centre for Theology, Mission and Culture in nearby Akropong, travel to Kumasi, the former capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, and travel to Cape Coast (former capital of the Gold Coast) and visit the Elmina Castle, the point of departure for the dreaded Middle Passage for thousands of enslaved West Africans. We are requesting time with Professor Mercy Amba Oduyoye, one of Africa’s preeminent theologians. The trip will highlight innovative Ghanaian efforts to discern and proclaim a post-colonial understanding of Christian discipleship in theology, worship, evangelism, church planting, and holistic healing.

July 2024 Trip

Mexico: Border, Migration, and Coffee

Travel Dates: July 12-22, 2024

Co-Leaders: Dr. Jennifer Kaalund and the Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell

Instead of Colombia (as previously announced), students will be traveling to both the U.S./Mexico border and the Mexico/Guatemala border, exploring the connections between coffee, migration, and faith. We will see how Christian churches are offering families the chance to stay together, rather than migrate north. In partnership with Cafe Justo (a grower-owned Coffee Cooperative based in southern Chiapas Mexico, formed to address the poverty and migration from Mexico to the U.S.), the PTS group will be led by Associate Professor of New Testament Dr. Jennifer Kaalund, and the Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell (WMI).


Please refer to the application form for the cost of each trip.

Important Dates 

  • Trip Application Period

The trip application for January trips has closed. Application for July 2024 remains open. Apply Now.

  • Class Registration

J-Term class registration opens Oct. 23, 2023, and Summer class registration opens March 18, 2024.

  • Other Dates 

Check out the calendar and save the dates for all the important events.   

Trip With Credit

Any PTS student planning to participate in an Intercultural Learning Trip for the first time is required to enroll in the Intercultural Experiential Learning (MI 310) course, which consists of 15 hours of pre-trip orientation (plus preparatory readings) and 15 hours of post-trip reflection and integration. Students will receive three credits or can audit the course.

Trip Without Credit

Students who have traveled before and completed the course are required to attend pre-trip orientation and post-trip classes.

Non-PTS students are required to register/audit for the course. The three credits are transferable to the Graduate Certificate in Missional Leadership. Non-registered applicants are required to complete five hours pre- and post-trip classroom time.