Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

11/27 2019

Located Leadership: Church Planting as a Lady Pastor

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church planting woman clerical shirt

These snazzy numbers are available at: https://www.kingdom.com/women-s-long-sleeve-clergy-shirt.html


Have you ever tried to find a clerical shirt made for a woman? A quick Google search will inform you that the selection is sparse—and expensive. Perhaps the picture above offers a promising option? Sometimes it feels like conversations and literature about “leadership” fit about as well as those two poly blend shirts look like they fit me their wearers (or any other human woman). Like maybe if I borrowed my dad’s briefcase from the 90s and laced up his men’s size 16 (truly) wingtips, I’d look like what we all imagine a leader to be. Or perhaps in another tradition I’d need a beard, a flannel, and some tight jeans.


But these are not really looks I can authentically bring to the table—so what does it look like to be the person I am and to lead?


I can’t speak for all women (nor should I), but I can say that church planting—that is, gathering communities in newly imagined ways of Christian living—has a unique way of allowing the leaders to lead as themselves. It turns out, there are plenty of pastors who look like my dad in his wingtips with his briefcase. They have reached the folks who are looking for that. So too with flannel and beards and tight jeans. But every time I mention at a coffee shop or on a plane that I am a pastor, people have questions.


Church Planting and Listening First

Indeed, it was almost accidentally I learned that leading as myself meant leading from a posture of listening first. I heard their questions, and it turned out I didn’t always have the answers. So I started with hearing the questions and letting them be—I started with listening and being with. From there, it seemed natural to confess the truth of who I am, who the church is and has been, and confess that we don’t have all the answers we have long claimed to have. Perhaps it’s a funny way to be a leader, but in an uncertain world, I have found that for me, and for many others, gathering to live those simple practices—listening, confessing, and being with—has allowed church to spring up in all kinds of surprising places.  And that is pretty much what church planting is.


The Rev. Karen Rohrer, M.Div. is the director of the Church Planting Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, founding co-pastor of Beacon Church in Philadelphia, Pa., and, is in deed, a lady pastor.


11/14 2019

Can I Really Afford Paying for Seminary?

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can I afford seminaryAs an admissions counselor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, one of the most common questions I receive from prospective students seeking an MDiv, MAPS, or MTS degree is, “What is the cost of tuition?” Another common question is, “Are there scholarships or financial aid opportunities available for applicants?” Because I once was a college and graduate student, these are very wise questions for those seeking to obtain a master’s degree.

I enjoy meeting with prospective students and answering their questions and concerns as they desire to further their education. Whether students feel called to serve in a pastoral role, social work, non-profit, or church plant, students want to know if they really can afford paying for seminary. Whether prospective students are from across the States like Ohio or Florida or whether they are from another country like Colombia or Myanmar, knowing how they will finance their theological education is a big deal.


Cost of Seminary

Tuition for master’s degree programs at Pittsburgh Seminary like many seminaries and divinity schools s commonly by credit though some schools will charge a yearly tuition fee despite the number of credits taken. Interested in various seminaries or divinity schools? Be sure to check each school’s tuition and fees. Pittsburgh Seminary consistently ranks among the most affordable.

At Pittsburgh Seminary, we strongly believe in providing financial support for our students. With these resources helping to alleviate the cost of tuition at PTS, students can prepare and focus on their vocations instead of on increased financial debt. Many students at PTS can afford seminary due to earning merit scholarships and students can apply for need-based financial aid.


Affording Seminary

If you are considering applying to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and asking, “Can I really afford paying for Seminary?” then I encourage you to contact PTS Admissions so you can find out more about the resources that benefit our students.

Learn more about our tuition and fees here: https://www.pts.edu/Tuition_and_Fees.

Contact Admissions and we would be happy to share more information about our programs: https://www.pts.edu/Request_Info.


Ashley Johnson works as an admissions counselor at Pittsburgh Seminary. She earned her bachelor’s from Slippery Rock University and her master’s from California University of Pennsylvania. Prior to PTS, her higher education background includes working as a graduate assistant in the Financial Aid Office at California University of Pennsylvania and serving as a student service specialist in Enrollment Services in The HUB at Carnegie Mellon University. In her current role, Ashley serves prospective students to answer any questions related to the admissions process, scheduling a campus visit, or meeting different program directors or faculty. 


11/12 2019

Why Get a DMin?

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Doctor of Ministry DMin degree church changeMany pastors sense that the church they were trained to serve and the church they encounter each day are two different universes. Things change. Change is part of life. Yet change in the church over the last two decades has been phenomenal. Even disorienting.

Some of us adapt to change easily. For others, it’s really difficult. For all of us, leaning into change is easier when we do it intentionally: in the midst of community and conversation.


That’s the main reason to get a doctor of ministry (DMin) degree: to gather and go deep with an ongoing community of learning as you lean into the change God has unleashed in the church. It’s an exciting time to be in ministry. It’s also daunting.


Why get a doctor of ministry degree?

In many ways, entering a DMin program is like returning to the well that first cooled your thirst. It’s an opportunity to drink from the living water that fed your venture into ministry. In this return to the water though, you know much more about the terrain you seek to cover: the wilderness, the parched earth, the verdant valleys. The possibilities, the hope, the drudgery, and the despair that are part and parcel of every pastor’s life.

Our professors love to teach in the DMin program precisely because the students come back to the well with this new knowledge and new awareness. They bring living questions and stark realities from daily service in complex congregations and creative ministries around the country. Professors in the DMin program learn from their students as much as the students learn from them. The banquet they serve to pastors in training at the master’s level is lent new flavors and remade by what they learn about ministry from students in the DMin. It is an exciting exchange!


DMin Education

Knowledge is wonderful in many different forms. In many ways, DMin education moves in the opposite direction of master’s-level education. Abstract ideas can be tantalizing and fun. Broad visions and passionate hope born of deep study has the capacity to energize us for new horizons. What is wonderful about the DMin though, is that you start with the concrete. Your context. Your questions. You bring the dailiness of ministry back to the well you first drank from, seeking with new urgency living water for the place, moment, people, and challenges in which you dwell.

You also form relationships. Deep, collegial relationships born of studying, learning, and exploring together. In our DMin program we place a huge emphasis on this ongoing learning in community. Every DMin cohort is led by a faculty mentor who serves as a guide and advisor. In addition, a cohort facilitator serves as a pastor to the pastors: leading group formation; planning times for worship and sharing; connecting the group between course weeks so that the learning and bonding continues even when the group has dispersed back to the work of daily ministry.

Why get a DMin? Because your journey of growth and learning is not over when you leave seminary and venture into the world of ministry. In fact, it is just beginning. A DMin is a return to the banquet that first fed you. A return that helps you continue to feed others in the call God has set before you.


The Rev. Dr. Denise Thorpe serves as Pittsburgh Seminary’s interim director of the Doctor of Ministry Program. New cohorts typically begin in January and June each year and focus on a number of topics including Christian spirituality, parish ministry, and science and theology. Financial aid may be available for those who qualify. Learn more about the Doctor of Ministry Program at Pittsburgh Seminary.

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