Christian Leadership Program:
  Foundational Courses for the Laity

Quick Links

REGISTRATION is now OPEN for Summer 2017 

Summer CLP/CRE courses BEGIN June 5 and run for 12 weeks; ending August 25, 2017. Summer offerings are based on demand and instructor availability.  This summer we are pleased to announce that Introduction to New Testament, Reformed Theology, and Presbyterian Polity are being offered. Tuition is $390.00 per course.  Interested new students will first need to apply to the program (see application link in green box on right), be accepted and then take the Online Learning Course (OLC). A new OLC opens up on April 3rd, and this course fee is $75.00. New students need to register/pay for this course and complete the assignments before starting a summer class. If you have any questions, please contact Carla Gibbons, Distance Education Coordinator, at 563-589-3630 / 1-888-207-8218 or at  For additional information regarding the CLP/CRE lay ministry program, please access desired link in the green box.

Summer 2017 Courses Available:  Effective 6/5/17, the PayPal link to register and pay for a summer course is no longer available.  Please contact Carla at one of the above numbers.


Instructor: Nicky Story

There are no prerequisites or required textbooks for this particular course. The Online Learning Certification course is designed to prepare students for all online courses with the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.

To Register for this course: CLICK ON THE COURSE LINK ABOVE

The below eight CLP/CRE courses are offered every spring and fall term. The three courses offered this summer are listed at the top, and all links are active to register via PayPal. All spring classes remain listed below, but please know that the professor and abbreviated course description can be subject to change for this fall. For coursework technology requirements, please click on the "Program Info" in the green box to the right above. Please direct any issues or problems of a technical nature to the Director of Seminary Technology, Nicky Story, at or  Please do not contact professors with technical issues.


Instructor: Dr. Scott Nesbitt

This course provides an overview of Presbyterian Church (USA) polity, both in principle and in practice. There will be an emphasis on the use of the constitution in the local congregation as well as the governing bodies. Class structure will include lectures, discussion, case studies, quizzes and outside assignments.

This course is designed:
1. to equip students to become competent moderators of Session
2. to help students become knowledgeable interpreters for the local congregation of the polity of the church, as well as the denomination's larger missional purposes
3. to instill in students an appreciation for our connectional nature

1. Course Requirements
• Regular participation in class discussions.
• Completion of the assigned reading during the indicated time period
• Attendance at one presbytery meeting (or one session meeting if it is completely unfeasible to get to a presbytery meeting) during the course period
• Timely submission of written work (an analysis of an observed governing body meeting [presbytery or session], agendas for a session meeting and for a congregational meeting)
• Completion of quizzes and the final exam

2. Evaluation will be based on class participation, evidence of knowledge of required reading,
and quality of submitted work.

3. The final grade for the course will be "Pass" or "Fail." However, I will provide unofficial letter grades to individual assignments. These grades are strictly for your own benefit to ascertain where you have strengths and where you might need to grow.

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Parts I and II (most recent versions)
Goodwiller, Gregory A., A Guide to Parliamentary Procedure in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [this is found as a PDF document at]
Gray, Joan S. and Tucker, Joyce, Presbyterian Polity for Church Leaders (Fourth Edition)

Beattie, Frank A., Companion to the Constitution: Polity for the Local Church
Chapman, William E., Finding Christ in the Book of Order
Chapman, William E., History and Theology in the Book of Order: Blood on Every Page
Olsen, Charles, Transforming Church Boards Into Spiritual Communities
Robert, Henry M., Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, Most Recent Edition
Rogers, Jack, Presbyterian Creeds, A Guide to the Book of Confessions
Rice, Howard L. and Calvin Chinn, The Ordination Questions: A Study for Church Officers

To Register for this course, CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE

Instructor: The Reverend Grant M. VanderVelden
Phone: 563.568.2134 (home) | 563.568.2981 (office) | 563.217.9171 (mobile)
Email and landline numbers (home or office) are the preferred means of communication.

This course surveys the literature and message of the New Testament, the second half of the Church's authoritative canon. Successful completion of this course will equip students with –
1. an increased knowledge of the New Testament content and theology.
2. a sharpened ability to determine the meaning of scriptural texts using basic exegetical methods, including the ability to interpret the New Testament within its first-century context.
3. a heightened awareness of the formative and authoritative nature of the New Testament, including how it informs the work of contemporary pastoral ministry.

Online lectures and discussion will accomplish the course objectives. It is assumed that students will be well-prepared, thoughtful and respectful participants in the online discussions. All reading assignments given in the syllabus for a particular week must be completed before viewing the lecture and answering online questions.

The New Testament itself is the primary text for the course, and careful reading of the Word is expected. The secondary text is Introducing the New Testament by Mark Allan Powell. This text will inform students' understanding of the authorship, audience, historical setting, purpose and primary theological themes of New Testament books.

A handout on exegetical method will encourage students to begin to think exegetically.

Online lectures and discussion questions will be posted by Tuesday of any given week. Students must read assignments before viewing the lecture and responding to discussion questions. Students must respond to the discussion questions by Thursday night and respond to other students' comments by Sunday night.

This course is not offered for academic credit. Students who complete the readings and assignments, as evidenced by their contribution and participation in online discussions, will receive a "pass" for the course.

 Powell, Mark Allan. Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary and Theological Survey. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.
 The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version: An Ecumenical Study Bible. Fourth edition. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2010. (Another good study Bible may be used in place of the Oxford Annotated Bible.)


 Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (1996)
 Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings (1998)
 Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Revised edition, 1970)
 Harper's Bible Dictionary
 Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (1964)
 Luke T. Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament (1986)
 Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World (1981)
 Frederick J. Murphy, The Religious World of Jesus (1991)
 Norman Perrin, The New Testament (1974)
 Russell Pregeant, Engaging the New Testament (1995)
 Stambaugh and Balch, The New Testament in its Social Environment (1986)
 Krister Stendahl, Paul Among the Jews and Gentiles (1976)
 James L. Bailey and Lyle D. VanderBroek, Literary Forms in the New Testament 

 To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE


Instructor: Dr. Gary S. Eller
Telephone: 888-244-6714


This course is designed for all who want to learn more about the theology of the Reformed churches. Some of you are seeking training to become a Commissioned Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) while others are lay leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or other denominations. In any case, I am delighted to share this theological journey with you.

We will be drawing upon a variety of resources this semester with particular attention given to classic and modern Reformed theological confessions and catechisms. These resources will be helpful for both Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) students and non-Presbyterians.

We will follow a "seminar" method which combines readings, discussions, and an occasional lecture or instructor's notes. The first week I will provide you with a lecture to get us started from a common point. As we read texts and share our reflections, I will encourage you to pursue key themes through follow-up comments and questions. Since this is an online course, you will be able to make your comments and respond to questions at any time during the week of that particular assignment. Hopefully, you will find this both a convenient and sound approach to learning.


1. To give you a working knowledge of the major themes in Reformed theology.
2. To familiarize you with the Book of Confessions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
3. To engage you in a faith dialogue with these confessions and catechisms.

You will not be asked to memorize the confessions or catechisms. Instead, you will become familiar enough with them that you can draw upon them to discuss your own faith convictions with others in an informed way. This is an important part of your preparation to take vows as either a Commissioned Ruling Elder or ordained Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). If you are a member of another denomination, then you will discover how these confessions and catechisms have impacted the broader Church and where they continue to impact your tradition.


In order to receive a passing grade, students must meet the following criteria.
1. Course requirements or assignments to meet the outcomes specified in the Course Objectives section, including regular participation in discussion forums.


The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part I, The Book of Confessions. Louisville: Office of the General Assembly.

McKim, Donald K. Presbyterian Beliefs: A Brief Introduction. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2003.

McKim, Donald K. Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers: Exploring Christian Faith. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2003.

Rogers, Jack. Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to the Book of Confessions. Westminster

John Knox, 1991.


Guthrie, Shirley C. Christian Doctrine. Rev. Ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994.

Leith, John H. Basic Christian Doctrine. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993.

McKim, Donald K. Introducing the Reformed Faith: Biblical Revelation, Christian Tradition, Contemporary Significance. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.

To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE

Instructor: Dr. Timothy M. Slemmons
Phone: 563-589-3578

This introductory course in preaching leads the Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE) student through the basic steps of sermon preparation: liturgical considerations, text selection, exegesis, formation of a claim, development of a sermon outline and choosing of a form, sermon writing, delivery, and evaluation.


Commissioned Ruling Elder training courses offered by UDTSlearning aim to embrace and work to fulfill the seminary mission statement, which reads as follows:

The purpose of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, an ecumenical seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is to serve the one God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- and advance the ministry and mission of the church of Jesus Christ by preparing women and men for faithful, compassionate, and effective pastoral and lay ministry in congregations, with special attention to rural and native American constituencies, by research and publication in the theological disciplines, and by active participation in the life of the church.


This course may only be taken for a Pass/Fail basis. A passing grade is earned by successful completion of the following assignments:

• One devotional, each consisting of 1-2 vv., meditation, and one-sentence prayer

(1 p. max)
• Exegetical summary of sermon text (1-2 pp.), concluding with focus/function
• Sermon outline, with sermon title (1 p.)
• Sermon (4 pp. max)
• Regular on-line participation in posting assignments and responding to peers.
• Self-assessment of sermon and a statement of learnings.


Thomas G. Long, The Witness of Preaching, Third Edition (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1989) ISBN-13: 978-0664261429
Timothy Matthew Slemmons, Year D: A Quadrennial Supplement to the Revised Common
Lectionary (Eugene: OR: Cascade Books, 2012) ISBN-13: 978-1610973120
________. The Freedom of Christ: Sermons on Galatians (San Bernardino, CA:
CreateSpace, 2015) ISBN-13: 978-1508593348
Eliot Young, The Word at Work (Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2014) ISBN-13: 978-


Ronald J. Allen, Interpreting the Gospel: An Introduction to Preaching (St. Louis: Chalice
Press, 1998) ISBN-13: 978-0827216198

To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE

Instructor: Rev. Dr. Mark H. Hughes
Telephone: 816.518.6019

This course provides students with a basic introduction to the Christian Old Testament, focusing on its content, historical context, theology, and significance for today. The Old Testament puzzles many Christians in our time. They realize it encompasses a large percentage of their Bible, yet apart from some of the famous stories and characters, they know little about it. This course will focus on opening up the great story of salvation through the narrative storyline of the Old Testament. Themes of creation, fall, covenant, captivity, salvation, exile, restoration, and new creation will play a significant role in our weekly studies as we travel on the road from creation to the cross.

Students will be able to:
• grow in their knowledge of the content of the Old Testament;
• gain an understanding of the overarching story of the Old Testament;
• learn some of the dominant themes that permeate the Old Testament texts;
• gain some sense of how to preach and teach the Old Testament in their various ministry contexts.

• Hill, Andrew and Walton, John H. A Survey of the Old Testament, 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

• Study Bible not based on a paraphrase: ESV, NIV, and NRSV are all acceptable. The Message, The Living Bible, and The New Living Translation are not acceptable.

• There will also be articles, readings, and videos posted on

RECOMMENDED FOR FURTHER STUDY: (These books are not required, but are very helpful in teaching and preaching the Faith of the Church.)
• Baylis, Albert H. From Creation to the Cross: Understanding the First Half of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

• Fee, Gordon and Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

• France, R.T., Jesus and the Old Testament. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1992.

• Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

• Harper Collins Bible Dictionary. General Editor Paul J. Achtemeier. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

• Harper Collins Bible Pronunciation Guide, General Editor William O. Walker, Jr. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.

• Longman III, Tremper and Dillard, Raymond. An Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

• McKim, Donald K. Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.

• Motyer, Alec. The Story of the Old Testament: Men With a Message. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001. 

 To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE


Instructor: Dr. Beth McCaw


An introduction to the caring aspects of pastoral ministry, including biblical and theological foundations of care, the development of pastoral identity, various models of care, and varieties of essential pastoral communication skills necessary for entering diverse situations of crisis and need.


1. to offer an introduction to the caring aspects of pastoral ministry
2. to articulate biblical, theological and psychological foundations of care
3. to encourage the development of a healthy and faithful pastoral identity
4. to examine the primary contexts of pastoral care
5. to strengthen essential pastoral communication skills
6. to become acquainted with various models of pastoral care


* Franklin, Cynthia, and Rowena Fong. The Church Leader's Counseling Resource Guide (New York: Oxford, 2011) - selections.
*Hunsinger, Deborah Van Deusen, Pray Without Ceasing: Revitalizing Pastoral Care (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).
* Purves, Andrew, The Crucifixion of Ministry (Downers Grove: IVP, 2007)

 To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE

Instructor: Dr. Susan Forshey
Phone: 206-963-0472

This course explores the role and practice of the teaching and discipling ministries of the church as graced means of cultivating the character of Christ personally and corporately. An incarnational model of teaching and learning—engaging the whole person—will be emphasized. Students will reflect on their own experiences of these ministries, both as teacher and student; engage texts on teaching and instructional design, the neuroscience of learning and habit formation; contemplative attention; spiritual formation in children and youth; and practice practical theological reflection as they build skills for teaching in various contexts. Models for learning, recent cognitive research, and instructional design models will be dialogue partners as students select and describe a context of teaching and learning; then design, teach, and evaluate a teaching/learning experience.

By participating fully in this class, students will:
1. Be able to identify and build on biblical, theological, and practical foundations for the educational tasks of the local congregation.
2. Use models for structuring the worship and ministry of congregations in ways that
call and shape disciples from spiritual infancy to maturity in Christian community and
public witness, as measured by the evaluations of a teaching session.

1. Be formed by, live in, and minister out of Scripture and the historical and theological
tradition of the Church.
2. Educate and equip individuals and congregations to live and minister joyfully and
faithfully as part of their own denomination and the ecumenical church.
3. Integrate theology and practice in all areas of life and ministry.

1. Demonstrate reflective understanding of the assigned reading and lectures by submitting online journals each week (20% of grade).
2. Comment on two colleague online posts each week (10%)
3. Write a context description of church or ministry that will be the setting for teaching a learning experience (35% of grade).
4. Plan, teach, and evaluate a learning experience (35% of grade).

Maria Lichtmann, The Teacher's Way: Teaching and the Contemplative Life
Parker Palmer, To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey
David Sousa, How the Brain Learns

 To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE

Instructor: Rev. Dr. Richard J. Shaffer Jr.
Phone: (563) 589-3691

This course in Reformed Worship and Sacraments introduces CLP students to basic scriptural, historical, and theological principles of Christian worship as viewed from a Reformed perspective, with special focus on liturgical practice in the Presbyterian Church (USA).


Students who successfully complete this course will demonstrate and/or articulate the following:
• An introductory knowledge of Christian worship from the Reformed perspective;

• An introductory knowledge of the resources available for preparing and planning for worship;

• An ability to plan a worship service with commentary, explaining the theological and liturgical spirit of each major component of the service;

• A knowledge of the sacramental practices of the church;

• An introductory knowledge of the theological principles and practices in funeral and wedding services, as well as an introductory knowledge of resources available for planning these services.


In order to successfully complete this course, each student shall do the following:

• Keep up with weekly readings and lectures;

• Participate in each weekly discussion forum;

• Complete an annotated worship service with commentary. This is a final project that demonstrates the student's ability to 1) plan a complete worship service and 2) provide a theological and liturgical explanation for the contents of the service as well as the decision-making process that produced the service.

REQUIRED TEXTS: (Students will need to have these texts available for use throughout the course.)

Bower, Peter C. ed. The Companion to the Book of Common Worship. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2003.

Byars, Ronald P. Christian Worship: Glorifying and Enjoying God. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2000.

P.C. (U.S.A.) The Book of Common Worship. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press,1993.

P.C. (U.S.A.) The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part I, The Book of Confessions [current edition with index] (also available online)

P.C. (U.S.A.) The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part II, The Book of Order [current edition] (also available online)

SUGGESTED TEXTS: (These texts are not required, but will provide added insight to our conversation.)

Old, Hughes Oliphant. Worship Reformed According to Scripture, revised and expanded edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.

P.C. (U.S.A.) Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013

P.C. (U.S.A.) Book of Occasional Services. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.

To Register for this course: CLICK COURSE LINK AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE 

Last modified: Monday, June 5, 2017, 2:41 PM