This program of special courses and seminars provides progressive, accessible Christian theological education year-round for clergy, laity, and spiritual seekers from diverse racial/ethnic communities. TEL is multicultural in its design and focus. It may be engaged at the level that works for you—for personal spiritual formation, lay leadership training, professional growth, or continuing education.
Using PSR’s “flexible learning” approach, TEL fosters a strong and supportive community environment while enabling participation at a distance through online learning. A carefully selected curriculum of online experiences may be engaged individually, or as part of a non-graduate-level certificate.
We hope that you will join our growing TEL community.
“The scope and vision of Christian educational ministry is opened up by online possibilities. This has significance for the ownership of theology, formerly the preserve of the university, seminary, or specialist theologian. It suggests a different sort of theology, not derived from academics or church hierarchy but emerging from within the ordinary people of God.”
—Dr. Ros Stuart-Buttle, Journal of Education & Christian Belief, 2014
(see below for Course Descriptions)
August 18 – 25, 2020
Telling Our Stories: An Intro to Christian Education with Dr. Michael Sepidoza Campos
Sept. 15 – 22 , 2020
Biblical Interpretation: An Ancient Text for Today with Rev. Lynice Pinkard
October 13 – 20, 2020
Let the Church Say Amen: An Introduction to Christian Worship with Rev. Ann Jefferson
November 10 – 17, 2020
Thinking Theologically: God-talk for Community Building with Rev. Dr. Jay Johnson
Upcoming Classes Hawaii
September 12 & 26, 2020
Great Story of Your Faith:
Defining Moments in the History of Christianity with Dr. Randi Walker
October 3 & 17, 2020
Telling Our Stories: An Intro to Christian Education with Dr. Michael Sepidoza Campos
November 7 & 21, 2020
Biblical Interpretation: An Ancient Text for Today with Jeffrey Acido
Telling Our Stories: An Introduction to Christian Education
In our study of Christian Education, its history, practices, and possibilities, we will explore key concepts that under gird the work of learning and teaching:
We will explore the ways Christian education interacts with culture: how it influences and is shaped by culture.
We will analyze this interaction through close study and engagement of Social Biography–our social location, our personal stories–as frameworks for meaning-making. Readings, film and current media will serve as the material from which discussions will emerge.
Great Moments in Your Faith: Defining Moments in the History of Christianity
By focusing on fateful events that decisively shaped Christianity the immense landscape of Christian history
can be some useful definition at the introductory level. From a standpoint of progressive Christianity, we will engage three important defining moments of the two thousand years of the world’s largest faith tradition:
- the fourth century Council of Nicea that inaugurated Christianity as a world empire religion;
- the sixteenth century Protestant breakaway that created entrepreneurial religion;
- and the explosive twentieth century with special attention to global evangelical goals of much of Christianity.
History of Christianity (TEL Hawaii)
By focusing on five major themes and events that shaped Christianity, the immense landscape of Christian history, we can come to some useful definition and principles for thinking about the history of Christianity as the introductory level. From a standpoint of progressive Christianity, we will engage five important defining issues in the two thousand years of the world’s largest faith tradition:
- The cultural origins of a new religion;
- The fourth-century Council of Nicaea that illustrated
the connections of political power and perceived needs for theological unity;
- The medieval translations of Christianity
ironically resulting in more division and ultimately voluntary religion and the possibility of unbelief;
- And the explosive 19th and 20th centuries with especial attention to connections of global evangelization goals of much of Christianity with the globalization of western modernity.
CTEL: Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership
The Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership (CTEL) provides strong theological leadership training for lay and clergy leaders, equipping you to strengthen congregations and create new ministries.
One of the richest traditions of PSR’s lay certificate programs has been that of cross-cultural, cross-denominational networking and community building.
Students are encouraged to communicate one-on-one with TEL staff and instructors to develop their ministry and vocational goals, particularly if they are considering further studies at PSR.
The CTEL includes, over the course of 12 months:
- June-May: eleven online courses and two seminars. You may enroll and begin the program at any time during the year.
- May: Commencement ceremony (Optional. With other PSR graduates in Berkeley). CTEL students are invited to receive their certificate during PSR’s commencement ceremonies, along with other PSR students.
CGSB: Certificate of Gender, Sexuality & the Bible
Is the Bible a wellspring or a weapon? The Gender, Sexuality and the Bible course series at PSR invites all readers of the Bible to join a rich, substantive exploration of sexuality and gender from a progressive, theological perspective.
Six highly engaging, sensitive, and community-minded monthly online sessions bring participants into direct conversation with seminary faculty, faith leaders, and each other.
There are no educational or religious pre-requisites, just an open mind and a desire to learn. Individual courses and the full certificate program are open to all, whether you plan to lead your congregation in study or simply ponder these issues at home over a cup of coffee.
For pastors and professionals who wish to engage, 1.6 CEUs are available for each course and 11.5 CEUs are awarded for the full certificate.
The Theological Education for Leadership Certificate in Gender, Sexuality and the Bible helps participants to:
- Think theologically about contemporary sexual practices and identities
- Acquire a respectful common language for discussion of gender, sexuality, and the Bible
- Interpret the Bible through a progressive lens
- Gain confidence in leading and participating in discussions of gender, sexuality, and the Bible
- Uncover relationships between race, class, and sexuality
The TEL program includes courses and seminars in a variety of lengths and formats. All courses are open to any learner, and are available entirely online. They may be taken individually, or as part of a certificate. Because courses are not taught at graduate-level intensity, TEL courses do not count toward graduate-level academic credit (see Credit for exception/details).
Courses provide in-depth, introductory explorations of topics that comprise the core of theological understanding and ministerial competence. Each course includes twelve hours of learning over eight days, including two live online seminars surrounding a week of self-paced online learning.
Seminars address a wide variety of topics in one- to three-hour live interactive sessions. Some seminars are offered occasionally, some annually. For professionals seeking certification of continuing education, CEUs are available. Learn more under the “Credit” tab.
Instructors include Pacific School of Religion and Graduate Theological Union (GTU) faculty, PSR and GTU doctoral students, and qualified professionals from a range of Christian denominations. These excellent instructors represent a variety of racial/ethnic backgrounds and many come from the same communities as TEL students.
Tuition costs are set as low as possible in order to encourage broad participation. Although no scholarships are available from PSR for TEL, students may find support from their congregations or denominations.
Students registered for TEL certificates receive a 40% discount on registration costs, as indicated above.
- $35 for certificate & PSR students
$50 for the general public
- $120 for certificate & PSR students
- $200 for the general public
Non-refundable processing fees of approximately 6% are charged in addition to the base cost.
To complete the twelve-month CTEL program, online course registration costs total $1260 plus approximately $75.60 processing fees. The cost of books is not included in the tuition total. Students can anticipate spending $150 – $200 for required reading materials. There is a $30 CTEL application fee.
To complete the Gender, Sexuality & the Bible certificate program, online registration costs total $820 plus approximately $49 processing fees. Students can anticipate spending approximately $140 for required reading materials.
You may request a refund for the cost of a TEL course or webinar, not including processing fees, one day (24 hours) before the start time of the course or webinar. Processing fees are determined by the vendor engaged to manage online sales and are not set by PSR. No refunds are available within 24 hours of the start of the course or webinar, and no refunds are available after the course or webinar begins. Requests must be made in writing and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEL program application fees are non-refundable.
Credit for TEL Courses
TEL courses may be taken for continuing education units (CEUs). One CEU is awarded for each ten hours of contact and study. Foundations courses award 1.6 units and seminars award 0.3 units.
TEL courses do not provide academic (college or graduate school) credit, with one exception, as noted below.
CTEL graduates who already possess an associates degree or higher may petition to transfer up to 3.0 credits toward a PSR graduate certificate or degree program by the end of their first semester at PSR. CTEL graduates must apply and be accepted to PSR graduate programs separately from the TEL program. Request transcripts here and follow credit transfer procedures to apply CTEL credits to your PSR program. Credits must be transferred in students’ first semester of PSR graduate study. The maximum time allowed to complete the CTEL is seven years from program admission.
CMS students requesting transcripts: Use the links above to request transcripts and indicate on your petition whether the program is CMS or CTEL.
Some denominations or conferences may recognize TEL courses or the Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership (CTEL) as fulfilling requirements for certification or other needs. For the Certified Lay Minister (CLayM) program of the California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Metropolitan Community Churches’ L.E.A.D. lay leadership program, CTEL is a provider of online coursework. Speak with your conference ministers if you wish to see TEL become a formal part of ministerial or lay leadership formation in your area.
TEL Hawaii Certificates
Certificates offered online through the TEL Hawaii program provide recognition of achievement in general or focused areas of study. If you wish to use a TEL certificate as part of a formal ministerial development plan, check with your denominational office first. Because courses are not taught at graduate-level intensity, TEL courses do not count toward graduate-level academic credit (see Credit for exception/details).
“I had a wonderful TEL experience. I began in the middle of the TEL year (January’s ‘I’m Gonna Preach’) but I’m glad I didn’t wait to get started! You can really begin at any point and still get the full TEL experience. I met new friends and came to love each professor and the way they interacted with us both in class and online. I was sad every time we said our goodbyes in our final class. The sharing can be very intimate as well. Beyond just discussing the material, instructors gave us opportunities to pray for one another, to offer praises and discuss side topics like how we were affected by world politics. Aside from meeting people from around the world, you have the opportunity to learn from Doctor-level professors and all at a very affordable price for each class. The TEL experience could be all you are looking for in your work as a leader in your faith community, or it could be a jumping off point into deeper theological study.”
—Scottie Shelton, Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership (CTEL), 2015
“The TEL PACIFIC PROGRAM was both educational and inspirational for me. I was honored to have professors with theological expertise who encouraged online interactions both in and outside of class. I also learned from my fellow students who shared the many ways that they were helping their churches and their communities. I am now more inspired and more confident in my ministry work as a Lay Leader at New Vision United Methodist Church , Millbrae, CA.”
~ Inga Cook, Lay Leader & TEL graduate, 2018
TEL learners come from many different faith communities and backgrounds, creating rich opportunities for in-depth dialogue. The minimum age for enrolling in TEL courses is 21.
Spiritual Seekers & Laity
Individual courses and certificate programs are open to all adults who seek to increase their knowledge of theological principles. You are invited to dip your toe into the water of spiritual education and formation, or immerse your whole self. Courses are affordable, compact, and expose you to a range of exciting progressive theological ideas. You may engage in a year of study to complete the CTEL certificate; take seven months to study Gender, Sexuality & the Bible, or simply take a seminar or course that interests you. A bachelor’s degree is not required.
TEL provides high quality adult education programming for individuals and groups from congregations. It also provides focused ministry formation for individuals seeking positions of congregational leadership. Those who earn the CTEL certificate get exposure to a broad range of theology and ministry skills that can deepen biblical understanding, and build new skills.
Lay Ministers & Alternate Paths to Ministry
PSR is working with a number of denominations to provide learning experiences appropriate for ministry preparation. We are in collaboration with UMC’s California Nevada Conference CLayM lay ministry program and the Metropolitan Community Churches’ L.E.A.D. program. Consult with your local denominational representatives to see how TEL can be a part of your formation. See the TEL Certificates page for information about the CTEL and other ministry preparation programs.
TEL offers CEUs for clergy and other professionals.The course offerings are fully accessible online, affordable and engaging for clegy looking to deepen their skills in targeted areas. The instructors are PSR and GTU professors and occasional guest instructors providing opportunities to discuss and explore current global topics.
Those Considering Seminary
Faith seekers and prospective ministers who are discerning their call to serve God in their churches or faith communities and want to explore theological studies will find riches in the program. In TEL you get to know and learn with PSR and Graduate Theological Union (GTU) faculty. Completion of the CTEL certificate entitles graduates already possessing an associate’s degree or above to apply three elective credits toward PSR graduate programs.
Learning in community is rich. We encourage groups to gather together to share a meal and engage with TEL courses and seminars. Perhaps part of the TEL program may serve your congregation’s adult education needs. Or perhaps there are a number of people in different churches in your area who want to move more deeply into progressive Christian ministry. The TEL Program Coordinator can help you form a group in your community. Congregations are invited to consider becoming a TEL Host Site.
Becoming a TEL Host Site is more than simply providing space and access to a virtual classroom experience. As a host site, your congregation can become a community center for gathering adult learners who want to deepen their theological and spiritual knowledge, and explore new avenues of learning and sharing a progressive perspective of Christian faith and practice. Our hope is that TEL host sites will build a community of learners within a regional cohort context.