With more than 80 percent of all U.S. residents and 50 percent of the global population living in and around urban centers, the Metro-Urban Institute prepares Christian leaders for the challenges of urban contextual ministry.

Founded in 1991, MUI combines the theory and practice of collaborative community ministry into a program of urban theological education that prepares students for excellence in any context of ministry, but with particular attention to public realities affecting the urban environment.

Interested in expanding your knowledge of serving in an urban context? Explore our Graduate Certificate in Urban Ministry, a flexible year-long program allowing community members and seminarians to explore their Christian vocation in urban settings.  Not looking for a formal education but want to better serve your neighbors? Check out our upcoming events, which include workshops, lectures, conferences, and special events focusing on serving God's cities.

MUI News

In June 2020, the Rev. Dr. R. Drew Smith was named director of the Metro-Urban Institute in addition to serving as professor of urban ministry. Read more about his appointment.

Additionally, Dr. Smith is leading/co-leading two grants from the Henry Luce Foundation to study the impact of COVID-19's impact on black and latinx communities in metro-Pittsburgh and to create a multidimensional project on gentrification, race, and theological education

Mission Statement

Using scholarship and praxis we inform, resource, and link constituencies in the work of healthy community formation in metro-urban contexts.

Vision Statement

To serve as the cutting edge resource on metro-Pittsburgh social and religious intersections and ecologies.

Three Pillars


  • Multilateral dialogue
  • Asset Recognition
  • Localized knowledge and practice
  • Exegesis of Context

Core Values

  • Mutuality
  • Justice
  • Service
  • Hospitality
  • Diversity


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gentrification, race, and theological education

Race, theology, gentrification and aesthetics feature prominently in this Doing it Different podcast discussion of work at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary under a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. The grant examines the soft violence of gentrification and displacement as well as the hard violence and death that plays out in neighborhood change. An important feature of the grant is attention to sensory formations of race and place, and this discussion highlights how a focus on aesthetics informs the work of the grant and its intersection with life and formation at the Seminary. Dr. Drew Smith, Dr. Denise Thorpe, Dr. Scott Hagley, and PTS student researcher Shannon Garrett-Headen participate in the discussion with Porsha Williams Gates. Listen to the podcast.

The Rev. Porsha Williams Gates discusses a grant to the Metro-Urban Institute by the Henry Luce Foundation to respond to the effects of COVID-19 on Black and Latinx communities. The Rev. Dr. Deirdre Hainsworth and the Rev. Dr. John Welch '02 discuss their work on the grant, what they have learned from the communities they have worked with, the value of this work to the Seminary, and the documentary sharing stories of systemic racism and the resilience of communities that is being produced through the grant. Listen to the podcast.

Doing it Different is a limited podcast partnership with Porshanality Media and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. This podcast explores the Seminary's cutting-edge Doctor of Ministry degree and its various focus areas, including the Intergenerational Black Church Studies.