Ministerial Formation

Ministerial Formation serves to form Christian leaders through worship, service, vocational discernment, and community. Ministerial formation occurs through a variety of contexts at Duke Divinity School, including coursework, field education, spiritual formation, houses of study, and denominational associations. In addition, Ministerial Formation provides opportunities for students to engage in vocational discernment and formation, hear from and develop relationships with experienced ministers, strengthen leadership capacities, engage in reflective practices and gain practical knowledge to aid in the transition from academic life to lay or ordained ministry in the church and the wider world.

Denominationally specific academic and vocational formation for students is offered through Houses of Study. Duke Divinity School offers the full array of courses required for elder’s and deacon’s orders in the United Methodist Church. It also offers courses in the history and polity of other denominations substantially represented in the student population, usually on a two-year cycle.

Houses of Study guide persons from their respective traditions who are preparing for ministry at Duke Divinity School. That care shall consist of advising students; counseling and preparing candidates for judicatory examinations or interviews; advising the Divinity School on the curricular and extra-curricular needs of those students; participating as appropriate and necessary in teaching of courses designed with students from the respective tradition in mind; creating an atmosphere at Duke University conducive to the effective preparation of that denomination’s or tradition's ministers; and holding events, services, and workshops instrumental toward the transmission of denominational practice, tradition, and doctrine. 

Houses of Study

The Anglican Episcopal House of Studies

The Anglican Episcopal House of Studies (AEHS) is a full Anglican seminary program within the wider Duke Divinity School. AEHS students participate in all aspects of Divinity School life and the vast resources of Duke University while enjoying the fellowship of a distinct formational group. The AEHS is a vibrant community of learning, prayer, and service that prepares students for Christian leadership in a variety of vocational paths throughout the Anglican Communion.

Containing students from multiple Anglican provinces, AEHS equips the next generation of church leaders through a robust liturgical life, instruction in classical Anglican tradition, and practical training for innovative leadership. Anglican and Episcopal students at Duke are encouraged to grow in many dimensions—academic rigor, professional skill, radical service, and personal holiness—reflecting Christ’s commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. For details about the Anglican Episcopal House, visit sites.duke.edu/aehs.

The Asian House of Studies

The Asian House of Studies is a formational community of Asian/Asian-American students, alumni, faculty, and staff. It provides resources for Asian theological studies and builds a network of Asian church leaders and scholars. It also partners with other organizations in the Divinity School and the wider Duke community to broaden its theological horizon and build diverse Christian communities.

The Baptist House of Studies

The Baptist House of Studies is a program of support and education for Baptist students at Duke Divinity School. Established in 1989, Baptist House prepares students for Baptist ministry through theological education and participation in a supportive community.

As the students study and attend classes in an ecumenical setting, Baptist faculty and administrative staff serve as their advisors and mentors. For the school’s Baptist students, Baptist House is a theological and spiritual home, anchoring them in their Baptist identity and connecting them with one another and the larger Baptist world.

While Baptists have always attended the Divinity School, their ranks have expanded dramatically since the creation of Baptist House. Today, about one hundred Baptist students are studying for ministry at Duke Divinity School, which is second only to United Methodists among denominations represented in the student body. For details about the Baptist House, visit divinity.duke.edu/formation/houses-of-study/baptist-house.

The Hispanic House of Studies

The Hispanic House of Studies (HHS) participates in the formation of future Hispanic/Latinx and non-Hispanic/Latinx church leaders committed to the community and dedicated to be self-aware leaders who can thrive in a diverse context. The HHS is committed to equipping and accompanying these church leaders as well as congregations of all backgrounds and traditions on their journey to becoming the church Christ has called us to be—A place of unity, transformation, restoration, and holistic healing.

Through its Caminantes program, the Hispanic House offers spiritual formation from a Hispanic perspective and helps students practice and hone skills for ministry among Hispanic/Latinx communities. Through the Encuentro program, students, faculty, staff, and United Methodist pastors have a learning encounter with Latin America.

The Course of Study in Central America is an initiative intended to establish a more regular theological education for the Methodist Church in Central America, while giving Duke Divinity students, alumni, doctoral students, and faculty the opportunity to teach theology in a unique context. The Hispanic House also offers theological and ministerial training in Spanish for pastors and lay leaders through the Hispanic-Latino/a Preaching Initiative at Duke Divinity School. The Hispanic House of Studies partners with the United Methodist conferences in North Carolina to foster innovation and an expanded imagination of how to develop a strong theological, biblical, and practical vision that will resonate with Hispanic and non-Hispanic communities across the state and generate thriving Hispanic/Latinx communities. Two such offerings are the Caminando Juntos program, designed for Methodist clergy, and Sumérgete, the annual retreat for pastors serving Hispanic/Latinx Communities, which provide pastors an opportunity for theological reflection, Sabbath, and networking. The Hispanic House also offers continuing education programs such as workshops, seminars, and the Hispanic Summer Program.

For details about the Hispanic House of Studies, visit divinity.duke.edu/formation/houses-of-study/hispanic-house.

The Methodist House of Studies

Established in 2008, the Methodist House is a gathering of students, alumni, faculty, and staff, who are affiliated with the United Methodist Church and other Wesleyan denominations that have active membership in the World Methodist Council—representing 108 ecclesial bodies worldwide. With approximately 60 percent of the student body and forty faculty and senior staff members from these Wesleyan churches, regular meetings during the semester provide a rich venue of social and intellectual exchange. The close and historic connections of the Divinity School to the United Methodist Church and the prescribed academic work for ordination are complemented by the wide range of activities orchestrated through the student leadership team of the Methodist House. Membership in an affiliated denomination is not a requirement for participation in activities. For details about the Methodist House, visit divinity.duke.edu/formation/houses-of-study/methodist-house.

The Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies

The Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies participates in the mission of Duke Divinity School, which seeks to form persons to serve and bear witness to the Triune God in the church, the academy, and the world. The Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies serves as an umbrella of support for students from the Reformed tradition, including members of the PC(USA), PCA, UCC, RCA, and CRC denominations. In this capacity it serves to nurture the Reformed Christian community at the Divinity School by supporting and nurturing students as persons, pastors, and leaders in the life of the Reformed Christian tradition. This includes: commending Christian life and ministry that is catholic and evangelical (in the classic sense of both words); forming a love in students for Reformed communions, especially for their uniqueness and what they share with other communions; and encouraging and equipping students to be insightful about the challenges facing Reformed churches, and also to eagerly and confidently address those challenges. To address these formational opportunities, the Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies holds regular thematically-oriented gatherings to reflect theologically on Christian life and ministry, conducts spiritual formation retreats, cosponsors the annual McPherson Lectureship in partnership with the First Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina, and celebrates student academic achievement with the annual Allen Verhey Memorial Student Colloquium. Guidance through the ordination process of the various Reformed bodies and vocational counsel throughout the Divinity School experience is also provided. For details about the Presbyterian/Reformed House of Studies, visit divinity.duke.edu/formation/houses-of-study/presbyterian-reformed.

The Office of Black Church Studies

The Office of Black Church Studies (OBCS) enriches the work and witness of Duke Divinity School with theological and spiritual resources from Black Church contexts. The office facilitates teaching, research, publishing, and formative experiences to nurture effective leaders for the church, the academy, and the world. Drawing from intellectual and empirical resources of Africa and the African Diaspora, OBCS strengthens the vocation of the Divinity School and the mission of Duke University to impact congregations, organizations, and societies locally and globally.

OBCS helps form good and faithful leaders through curricula, lectures, and relationships with congregations, denominations, organizations, and networks. Priorities include:

  • Course offerings to increase theological, ministerial, and leadership capacities of Divinity School and Duke University students;

  • Lectures to expose the Divinity School and Duke University to seminal and transformational thinkers and leaders in the church and academy;

  • Resources to advance research and nurture new generations of ministers and scholars;

  • Networking to enrich ministerial formation and vocational discernment through service learning and relationship cultivation; and

  • Conversations to explore impacting approaches to transform churches, organizations, and communities for liberation and flourishing.

Academic Study. A distinctive feature of theological education for ministry formation at Duke Divinity School is the requirement of one course in Black Church studies to graduate with the MDiv degree. Pastors and church leaders need exposure to theology, history, and practice from Black Church perspectives to minister effectively in the twenty-first century. Beyond required and elective course options, the certificate in Black Church studies enables students to engage theological, historical, and cultural aspects of Black Christian expressions toward deeper understanding and broader mastery of the life and thought of this complex community of people. It helps to equip leaders to develop capacities of contextualization, conscientization, and construction from Black Church life, thought, work, and witness. The certificate involves academic and experiential learning in the MA, MDiv, MTS, and ThM degrees.

Preaching and Lecture Series. Find information about lectures sponsored by OBCS here.

Continuing Education. The Office of Black Church Studies offers, in partnership with the Duke Divinity School Black Pastoral Leadership collaboration, continuing education and leadership formation experiences. It strengthens capacities through discovering, designing, and disseminating effective models of quality Black Church leadership through research, teaching, and convening. Nurturing strong capacities for contextualization, conscientization, and construction are characteristic of leadership desperately needed in churches and communities in this era. Facilitating networks of high quality leaders who are cultivating thriving churches that foster flourishing communities can contribute to the United States becoming a more just country–where none have too much or too little–and can inspire faith networks working for the good of humanity across the country and around the world.

Church Relationships. Through the Office of Black Church Studies, Duke Divinity School connects with congregations in the region, as well as national and global denominations and networks. These relationships afford excellent experiential learning contexts for ministerial formation and introduce students and communities for placement, mentoring, and service opportunities.

The Office of Black Church Studies provides counsel and advice to prospective Black seminarians and all students who are inspired by the prophetic and pastoral traditions of the Black Church. Inquiries concerning study opportunities available at Duke Divinity School should be directed to the Office of Black Church Studies at obcs@div.duke.edu or (919) 660-3439.