In 2020, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s World Mission Initiative is organizing four intercultural trips to help students and congregational mission leaders step outside their own context of ministry to see God’s mission in a context very different from their own. Two trips (Colombia and Southwest Florida) occurred during the January Term and the two others (Netherlands and Peru) will be in June 2020.

First preference will be given for trip participation to PTS students, while church mission leaders will be included as space is available, and their participation will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Non-PTS students are encouraged to register for the class to receive a credit which can be transferable for the Graduate Certificate in Missional Leadership.

All trips are offered in conjunction with the Intercultural Experiential Learning course (MI-310), which consists of 15 hours of pre-trip orientation (plus preparatory readings) and 15 hours of post-trip reflection and integration. Apply online here.

WMI Director Hunter Farrell commented, “The Seminary's curriculum 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.”

Each trip applicant is responsible for a $200 deposit at the time of application. Each year, the Seminary provides tens of thousands of dollars to make the trips financially possible for students.

The 2020 J-Term intercultural learning trips include:

Colombia - Churches Response to Hunger and Migration

Our PTS group will travel to Barranquilla on Colombia’s Atlantic coast where we will be hosted by the faculty of Theology of the Reformed University of Colombia. Together with Colombian Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Baptist students, we will examine increasing levels of societal violence, their different manifestations, and how churches in Colombia and the U.S. are responding. We will also visit Mennonite and Catholic peacemaking work in the capital city, Bogotá. Trip Co-leaders: John Welch, dean of students, and Ruth Farrell, Casa San Jose volunteer. Trip dates: Jan. 10-20, 2020 Cost: $2,600

Southwest Florida - The Sojourner Among You

We will visit migrant farmworker communities between Tampa and Ft. Myers, Fla., to help participants understand the life situation of farmworkers in the U.S., their relationship with agri-business, and their role in the economic chain that connects our lives with the land. We will visit ministry partners at Beth-El Ministry (led by PTS alumna Kathy Dain), Misión Peniel (a ministry of Peace River Presbytery), and the award-winning Coalition of Immokalee Workers to experience the strengths and weaknesses of different responses by churches—from charity to activism—in the workers’ daily life. Trip Co-leaders: Barbara Blodgett, associate dean of academic programs, and Ron Cole-Turner, professor of theology and ethics. Trip dates: Jan. 11-18, 2020 Cost: $1,400

The summer trips in June include: 

Netherlands: Being Church in a Post-Christian World

The Netherlands is one of the most secularized societies in Western Europe. But rather than retreating in defeat, the Dutch churches are responding by revitalizing existing congregations and planting new ones. No one really knows where this will lead, but it is fascinating to see how a church tries to break new ground and engage its neighbors for whom any form of religious faith has becoming completely implausible. We will connect with church plants and existing congregations both in the city (Amsterdam) and the countryside (Friesland), seeking to learn from churches that are experiencing already what the North American church might face soon. Trip Co-leaders: Edwin van Driel, professor of theology, and Kendra Smith, director of the worship program. Trip dates: June 4-15, 2020 Cost: $3,000

Peru: The Church and the Environment

We will travel to Lima, Peru, to meet the Joining Hands Network, a network of churches and NGOs working together to address the causes of hunger for Peru’s 32 million people. We will visit a city whose 8,000 children suffer from lead-poisoning due to a metal smelter; reflect with a Peruvian Roman Catholic archbishop who contributed to Pope Francis’ encyclical on Christians’ responsibility for the earth, Laudato Sí (“On Care for our Common Home”); study eco-theology together with Peruvian seminarians; and reflect on the connections between climate change and hunger in a land where melting glaciers translate into decreased water supply and dwindling crop yields. Trip Co-leaders: Hunter Farrell, director of WMI, and TBD. Trip dates: June 5-15, 2020 Cost: $2,800