Seattle Pacific Seminary, the seminary at Seattle Pacific University, has been added to the list of schools approved for United Methodist candidates for ordination by the University Senate of The United Methodist Church. I was thrilled to receive this news from my Dean earlier this summer, because it means that God has provided a way for me to live into a major part of my sense of calling – to pastor United Methodist seminary students who are preparing to become pastors. I am so grateful to get to teach and prepare future United Methodist pastors!

While I am ecstatic for personal reasons, I am even more grateful for the affirmation that SPS has received from The United Methodist Church because I strongly support SPU’s general vision and commitments as a university and its more particular mission as a seminary. The main purpose of this post, then, is to try to help get the word out about SPS and our ability to train UM students for ordained ministry.

The key foci of Seattle Pacific Seminary are affectionately referred to as the AAA model. Our vision for seminary is that we should be an academy, an abbey, and an apostolate. Here is how it is described on the website:

The interplay of scholarship, spiritual edification, and service defines our unique vision for educating both undergraduate and seminary students – all informed by our Wesleyan heritage that joins “knowledge and vital piety” as a means of changing the world.


SPU is known for its rigorous yet supportive academic environment. Whether you are an undergraduate or a seminary student, you will learn in close collaboration with faculty colleagues from many disciplines across the University. Our professors are outstanding biblical and theological scholars who value academic excellence, research, and teaching in service to the church, and have a deep Christian faith.

Learning goals of the Academy

We teach so that you and other students will:
• Develop an informed and reflective faith.
• Develop confidence in the Christian faith.
• Be able to interpret Scripture deftly and thoughtfully.
• Understand how the divine revelation of Scripture and the canonical tradition are informed by reason and the experience of the Holy Spirit.
• Learn and evaluate different worldviews operative from the perspective of Christian faith.


In the School of Theology, we stress accountable discipleship, and provide opportunities for you to worship and fellowship in intentional Christian community. Our purpose is that you and your professors will be formed more and more in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

Learning goals of the Abbey

We teach so that you and other students will:
• Shape your life around Christian character and values.
• Cultivate personal spiritual disciplines in your life.
• Engage others of different beliefs in civil discourse and with a catholic spirit.
• Be able to nurture others in Christian faith.
• Recognize your membership in the body of Christ, entering into the moral and theological discourse of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.


The School of Theology is also an “apostolate” — a place of sending forth. As a student, you will participate in service activities (acts of mercy and justice), especially with the poor. And you will sometimes find yourself stretched beyond your comfort zone — for the sake of the gospel — through urban or global multicultural experiences. In the School of Theology, prayer, and service provide you with the seedbed for scholarly study, vocational exploration, and preparation for leadership in the congregation, the campus, and the classroom.

Learning goals of the Apostolate

We teach so that you and other students will:
• Be prepared to discern, own, and be equipped for your vocation.
• Be deeply rooted in the worship and ministry of a local congregation.
• Articulate your faith in a winsome and engaging manner, in order to share it with others.
• Be prepared to engage in global and intercultural settings.

I will say more in another post about why I think SPS is a great place for United Methodist who are preparing for ministry. For now, I will say that my favorite way that we seek to bring the abbey piece to life is by having all of our seminary students participate in a weekly Wesleyan class meeting. (If you are unfamiliar with class meetings, you can read more about them here.)

The goal of the class meeting requirement is to provide a place for students to experience the Wesleyan understanding of “social holiness” as they care for one another and pursue continued growth in their relationship with the Triune God. This experience will also equip students to organize and lead class meetings in their future ministries. My hope is that by being a part of this kind of communal Christian formation students will both continue to grow in their faith during their time in seminary and be prepared to help others experience transformational small groups in the local church.