Western Theological Seminary

Graduate Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry

You've been called to be a leader in an urban church setting.  You want to grow in ministry, yet your educational needs are unique because the issues you deal with are specific to the urban context.  Western Theological Seminary offers you:

    • Strength in the art and practice of ministry in the city
    • Deeper biblical and theological knowledge
    • Increased ability to share the gospel of Jesus Christ
    • Insights into relating across cultures
    • Practical tools for dynamic preaching
    • Community of peers to challenge and support you
    • Momentum toward a Master of Divinity degree

Students in the program often serve as pastors or ministry leaders in established ministries in a variety of urban contexts in West Michigan. To serve the needs of working pastors and church leaders, the schedule for courses is varied. Many courses are offered during the day, but at least one course each semester is held on Thursday evenings or on the weekends. When interest has been sufficient, courses have been held off-campus, e.g. in Muskegon & Kalamazoo, MI.

Program Length and Courses

GCUPM web.jpg

Graduate Certificate students take four core curriculum courses and four elective courses, a total of 24 credit hours, in order to strengthen their skills and deepen their awareness of issues particular to the practice of urban pastoral ministry. Generally, students take a core course in the fall and an elective in the spring. Please call for a course schedule.


Pastor Jesse Heron

"I was looking for a biblically sound educational program that would help my ministry plant a church. I want to become the most effective pastor I can. I explored other programs but concluded the certificate program at WTS would be the best fit. It is relevant for urban ministry - the best I've seen out there."

Tiemeyer-Judy.jpg Judy Tiemeyer

"I attend a church whose mission is to become multicultural. The Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry Program at WTS provides cross-cultural ministry training. This training has equipped me to help my church achieve its multicultural vision.  I completed the urban ministry program in 2008 and went on to earn my Master of Divinity in 2012."


The Graduate Certificate in Urban Pastoral Ministry Program at Western Theological Seminary offers urban pastors and church leaders access to theological education. Learners deepen their knowledge, further develop their ministry skills, and receive certification of their academic achievement from an accredited seminary.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who should consider the GCUPM program?

Pastors, elders, ministers, and church leaders who are interested in and/or engaged in ministries in urban areas will gain tools and strength in the art and practice of ministry in the city.

Do I have to hold a Bachelor's degree to enter?

Normally, WTS requires a Bachelor's degree to enroll in courses. In some cases, students who have not yet completed a Bachelor's degree are permitted to enroll as GCUPM students. Interested persons should contact Dr. Mark Poppen  or Glenn Swier to discuss their particular situations.

Can I take courses at night? On weekends?

Courses are scheduled to make it possible for pastors and congregational leaders working in the field to attend, so class sessions are held on weekday evenings, in morning or afternoon blocks, and on weekends.

What are the professors like? Are they actively involved in urban ministry?

The professors for the GCUPM program are an ethnically and racially diverse group, including both ministers who serve primarily as pastors in urban areas and those ministering primarily as seminary professors.

Will I have access to professors, the bookstore, the library and other services?

Seminary offices, the bookstore and the library are open during the times when GCUPM courses are held so students have access to the services they need to succeed in their studies.

What if my own theology is different than that which WTS embraces?

WTS is an institution which values its identity as ecumenical and evangelical, welcoming students from a number of Christian theological traditions. While WTS is Reformed in its theological identity, many current students in the GCUPM and other study programs hold membership in non-Reformed denominations.

What do the courses cost?

Each successfully-completed course in the GCUPM program earns the student three credit hours and costs $1,149.

Is financial aid available?

Financial aid is available to students accepted into the GCUPM program who demonstrate financial need through application. Students interested in financial aid should request a financial aid application.

Are classes in the GCUPM program graduate level courses?

Yes, each course in the GCUPM program at WTS is taught at the graduate level and earns students three Master’s level credits. Are the credits transferrable into a Master's program? Each successfully-completed course earns the GCUPM student three credits, which are transferable into Master of Divinity programs at accredited seminaries. Students who complete the entire GCUPM will earn 24 Master's credits, much of the credit requirement for the first year of the Master of Divinity program at WTS.

How do I apply?

Click here for application form. With the application, you must submit: • $50 application fee • Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, whether or not you received a degree • A one page, double spaced description of how you hope theological education will enhance and/or empower your ministry. Call or write Dr. Mark Poppen for more information on applying, at mark.poppen@westernsem.edu, or 1-(800) 392-8554, ext. 132.


The GCUPM provides an opportunity in addition to its regular degree programs. Western participates in SCUPE, the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education, located in Chicago. SCUPE is an interdenominational organization committed to convening and educating all those who seek to engage the urban environment. SCUPE develops leaders by offering specialized intensive courses and internship in urban ministry. Please visit www.scupe.org for a list of course offerings.

Courses and Degree Requirements

Certificate students take five core curriculum courses and three elective courses, a total of 24 credit hours, in order to strengthen their skills and deepen their awareness of issues particular to the practice of urban pastoral ministry. Generally, students take a core course in the fall and an elective in the spring. Please call for a course schedule.

Field Legend: BL - Biblical Field; MN - Christian Ministry Field; TH - Theological Field

  • MN115 Practice of Counsel & Care (3)
  • TH101 Church History II (3)
  • BL103 Old Testament Foundations (3)
  • BL102 New Testament Foundations (3)
  • MN124 Practice of Worship & Preaching (3)
A course at SCUPE in Chicago may be used in place of one of the courses below:
  • Urban Ministry course I (3)
  • Urban Ministry course II (3)
  • Elective (3)

Two of a student's three electives should have an urban ministry focus.


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