Purpose. The Congregational Foundation for Theological Studies (CFTS) educates seminarians for leadership in Congregational churches and ministries. Graduates of CFTS are uniquely prepared to meet the challenges of today's churches through the vibrant traditions and practices of the Congregational Way.
Ministerial Training. Congregationalism has a long and honored tradition of an educated clergy. Seminary training at an accredited institution is the preferred way for ministerial candidates to receive such an education. CFTS was established by the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) in 1961 as an alternative to founding its own seminary, investing in people rather than brick and mortar. Recognizing that no one seminary can provide Congregational churches with the variety of leaders and theological viewpoints needed for ministry in our diverse congregations, students attend seminaries that are accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and engage in Congregational studies and experiences through CFTS.
Earning a Degree. A Master of Divinity degree (MDiv) is the recognized degree for pastoral ministry and usually requires three years of full time study for completion. Many of those entering ministry today are second or third career people with familial responsibilities. Consequently, it is common for students to take four or five years to complete their Master's degree. Many do so while in the employ of a church. For those who have not yet earned the prerequisite bachelor's degree, several ATS seminaries allow individuals to work on a bachelor's and master's degree concurrently. This usually requires one or two additional years of course work, depending on the amount of uncompleted undergraduate work at the time of enrollment in seminary.
Answering God’s Call to Ministry. The challenges of ordained ministry are enormous, but so are the rewards. Talent, dedication, comitment and a sense of calling are the most important ingredients for a successful seminary experience. If you are considering entering the Congregational ministry, you may have many questions. CFTS is prepared to help answer your questions and be a part of the answer. CFTS will challenge you academically, nurture you spiritually, and give you the opportunity for a promising future in Congregational ministry while you attend the seminary of your choice. Contact the Dean of CFTS. The Dean can assist you in the planning and implementation of your theological education.
Educational Training. CFTS enriches each student's seminary experience with education in the Congregational Way. Students admitted to CFTS are required to attend three academic seminars on topics unique to ministry in a Congregational church, and complete a directed polity study, with submission of a major research paper in Congregationalism. Additionally, students are required to engage in supervised ministry internships, practicing the skills of ministry under the direction of a field supervisor and in cooperation with the field requirements of the student's seminary.
Financial Support. Many churches, regional associations and individuals provide scholarships to students through CFTS to offset financial indebtedness and provide tangible encouragement for CFTS students during the seminary experience. CFTS also provides a financial stipend to students and encourages CFTS graduates to engage in Congregational ministries with post graduate grants.
Application Requirements. A person wishing to make application to CFTS must provide evidence of acceptance to an American Theological School accredited seminary. The student must already posses a Bachelor's degree (in any area of study), and be pursuing a Master of Divinity degree (or equivalent) with the intention to enter ministry in an NACCC Congregational church. The board of directors may make exceptions to these requirements especially if you are enrolled in a concurrent Bachelor's/Master's program.
Supporting Future Leaders through CFTS. CFTS is the only program in existence today whose sole purpose is preparing men and women for ministry in churches committed to the Congregational Way. This is accomplished under the close supervision and support of the CFTS Dean and the CFTS board of directors.Almost 200 men and women have received academic and financial support and completed their training as CFTS "Fellows." They have made a lasting impact on continuing Congregationalism.
You can make a difference. As our National Association grows, the need for Congregationally-trained ministers grows as well. You can help meet the continuing challenge in two ways.
First identify gifted people. There are people in your churches of varying ages and occupations who are gifted for ministry but need your encouragement to hear the call. You can identify and encourage able men and women of faith to devote their lives to God's service through ordained ministry in our Association.
Second make a contribution. You can join Congregationalists across the nation who promote exceptional ministerial leadership by making a personal contribution to CFTS and by making certain that CFTS is included in the benevolence program of their churches. With graduate seminary costs at an all-time high, generous financial support from people like you encourages many of the most able and dedicated people to enter Congregational ministry. By making a donation to CFTS or establishing an ongoing scholarship, you and your church ensure that Congregational Churches will be served by ministers devoted to the Congregational Way for years to come.
By investing in leadership today, together we can ensure a bright and vibrant future for the churches of the Congregational Way.
For More Information. You may contact the Program Director, Rev. Dr. Charles Packer.
Rev. Dr. Charles Packer