According to Merriam-Webster, discernment means “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.”
In a spiritual context, discernment happens when the obscure becomes the obvious, as we gain clarity in our relationship with God. Choosing a vocation, such as becoming a pastor, is one of the ways we respond to God’s call to us.
For those who have discerned a call to ministry, obtaining a seminary degree marks a significant milestone in fulfilling our purpose. Seminary education prepares us to serve the needs of our congregations and communities.
At Saint Paul School of Theology, we intentionally incorporate the vocational discernment process throughout the curriculum. Our degree programs give emerging faith leaders the hands-on experience and in-depth understanding they need to provide innovative ministry to the church and the world.
Those looking to begin seminary in the spring of 2023 are encouraged to apply for admission. The application deadline is November 1.
Recognizing and Responding to God’s Call
Our lived experience can be the starting point for discerning God’s purpose in our lives. Through prayerfully examining our experiences, we can illuminate the direction in which the Holy Spirit is guiding us.
The person who believes they may be receiving God’s call is encouraged to speak with their pastor and fellow church members. Local churches can help to discern whether an individual possesses the gifts needed to become and ordained minister, or whether they have traits best suited for another calling.
Local churches often provide opportunities to explore various ministry roles. Examples may include helping with youth group or children’s programs, leading Vacation Bible School activities or even preaching a sermon. The individual may wish to participate in internships, orientations and conference events.
If the staff-parish committee affirms that God is calling an individual to ministry, the candidacy process can begin. In the United Methodist Church, candidacy for ministry is a vocational discernment experience. It involves completing the steps necessary to become an ordained minister. One of the most important steps along that journey is to enroll in a seminary and obtain the necessary degree for ordination.
Applying to Seminary
The United Methodist Church has specific education requirements for ministers.
- Deacons must have a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree or an equivalent master’s degree in a relevant field, along with 27 theological study hours.
- Elders must have a Master of Divinity from a seminary approved by the United Methodist Church.
- Local pastors must complete a basic five-year Course of Study.
Saint Paul offers degree programs for obtaining a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and Master of Theological Studies. We also offer a Doctor of Ministry degree. In all of these programs, our faculty engage students in critical thinking, self-reflection and imagination of innovative ministry practices, along with extensive real-world experience.
Those who are exploring seminary programs are encouraged to schedule an in-person visit to our Kansas or Oklahoma campus. We also offer virtual visits for those unable to come in person. Campus visits offer the chance to meet faculty and current students and to learn more about our degree programs. You’ll also have the chance to worship with us and get information about scholarship and financial aid opportunities.
Those applying for admission will need to provide official transcripts from all colleges attended, letters of recommendation and a personal statement of ministry goals. International students will need an International Financial Certificate and a TOEFL score of 79-80 on an online test.
If you’re ready to take that next step in your discernment process, we encourage you to apply for spring enrollment at Saint Paul. All you need to do is fill out our convenient online application and submit all required materials. If you have questions, please call us at 913-253-5084 or send an email to .
All applications must be received by November 1 for spring enrollment.