Sustaining Pastoral Excellence: SPE/CTS Course

By Lis Van Harten

(First appeared in the September 2005 issue of Ministry Reports to Classes and Councils)

The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence project and Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS) have collaborated to offer a graduate level course The Theology and Practice of Pastoral Ministry.The central thesis of this course is that strong pastoral identity is the key to sustaining pastoral excellence. Today’s church has witnessed a breakdown of consensus regarding the role of the pastor. This course is a study of the theology and practice of pastoral ministry with a view to creatively and critically engaging changing views of the church and its ministry in our contemporary culture, and enhancing the practice of pastoral ministry.

To date the course has been offered four times in three different locations. In February, 2004 the first class of twelve students gathered in Lanark, Ontario. The second class of nineteen was held in Grand Rapids, MI in June, 2004. Orlando, FL hosted the third class of eleven in February, 2005 and the most recent class was held in Grand Rapids, MI with seventeen students attending.

Some of those attending the class have made the following comments: “After nearly two years of ministry this course is addressing all the questions I’ve had.” “I learned many practical things on how to be sustained in ministry and how to maintain proper boundaries.” “This course helped me to develop my pastoral identity.”

The texts for the course include William Willimon’s The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry and Subversive Spirituality by Eugene Peterson The course is open to both CTS students for credit and visitors. The instructors are Rev. Duane Kelderman, Vice-president for Administration, CTS and Rev. Kathy Smith, Director of Continuing Education, CTS.

To learn more or to register for an upcoming class, please visit