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Taking a Leap of Faith: A Rich History. A Bold Future.

Faith in a Changing World

After 150 years of fulfilling its mission of preparing pastoral and public leaders for church and society, the Presbyterian College in Montreal is dreaming big. Society has changed; the church has changed. The challenges for pastoral leaders in church and society have also changed. So the College has a choice to make – continue to do more of the same, or take bold steps — a leap of faith — to reignite its mission.

In order to meet the needs of a struggling church and a wounded world, we have chosen the second alternative. Building upon the strength of our traditions, we have developed a plan that will result in transformational and effective leaders for the church and for the world.

These leaders will have the gifts and skills to lead church renewal and to grow new faith communities, and to engage their communities for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Charting a New Course

The Presbyterian College seeks to prepare leaders to revitalize spiritual communities, build new churches, and make a positive difference in our world through inter-faith cooperation. With a renewed strategic plan, the College takes on a vision of providing spiritual guidance to the world, one person, one leader, and one congregation at a time. The College will accomplish this by revitalizing its Masters of Divinity program, and by initiating a Leadership Centre with new programs.

With the unanimous support of its Board of Governors, the Presbyterian College has invested $500,000 of its own holdings to support this new vision. An additional $150,000 has been personally pledged by current and past Board members as a further demonstration of commitment. In total the College seeks $1.75 million, pledged over the next five years, to support key program initiatives.

The three priorities include:

  • Leadership Centre $700,000
  • Enhanced Masters of Divinity (M. Div.) Program $800,000
  • Revitalized Facilities $250,000
Leadership Centre

Nothing impacts the health of a congregation more than the capabilities of its leader. Inspiring congregational leadership cannot be learned in the seminary when students are not yet in a position of leadership and much of the material discussed is only ‘theory’. As graduates move into their first congregations, many of the key questions of leadership begin to emerge. The Leadership Centre will provide a variety of programs to support both graduates and practicing ministers in becoming effective church leaders.

The Leadership Centre will encourage and renew present leadership in the church, build and support the gifts of emerging leaders, and engage young people in leadership to create and sustain communities of faith both in and outside of the church. The Leadership Centre has three central components:

  • Mentoring Missional Leaders The Presbyterian College is making a five year commitment to support new graduates as they face the many challenges of undertaking a pastoral charge. Designed to sustain their enthusiasm and fresh ideas, the program brings M. Div. graduates together with experienced ministers through two major activities: a yearly onsite gathering and monthly videoconferencing groups. The onsite meeting will be a time of retreat, reflection, community building, and learning. The videoconferences offer ongoing support, prayer, reflection on ministry, and soul care.
  • Pastors to Pastors Initiative The Pastors to Pastors initiative was established in memory of Rev. Dr. Ian Victor, who served the church faithfully for many years, including his last ministry as Acting Director of Pastoral Studies at Presbyterian College. As one who mentored many other pastors over his life-time, Dr. Victor had a deep and abiding commitment to help others serve well. The Pastors to Pastors Initiative is designed to assist ministers in mid-career who would benefit from a time of reflection, instruction and encouragement. Its primary purpose is to help ministers rediscover their love for God and their love of ministry so that personally renewed they can bring the same sense of renewal to their congregations.
    • As part of its Pastors to Pastors Initiative, the Presbyterian College is collaborating with Ashland Theological Seminary (Ohio) to establish the Pastors of Excellence program in Canada. Built on the premise that thriving congregations require healthy, strong leaders, for close to a decade the program has focused on the importance of clergy renewal. Based on small clergy peer groups and mentored by experienced pastors, ministers take part in each of four transformational learning retreats held at the College for long weekends over a 13 month period. An overwhelming majority of participants have shown significant growth in areas such as spiritual vitality, leadership effectiveness, stress processing, and personal awareness around strengths and areas of growth.
  • Developing Young Adult Leaders The future of spiritual communities depends upon our ability to support the development of young leaders, some of whom will pursue a calling to ministry, but many others who will serve the world in unknown, yet powerful and much needed ways. The Presbyterian College has a new program for young adults in the early stages of development. Through an exploration of values, skills and vocational interests, 18-25 year olds will explore questions of faith and build leadership skills.
Enhanced Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) Program

A new kind of church requires new thinking and skills, with deeper and long-lasting opportunities to expand educational growth beyond the academic program. The Enhanced M. Div. program offers students three areas of academic focus: Congregational Renewal, New Church Development and an inter-faith studies program called “Face-to-Face, Faith-to-Faith”.

Summer placements put students to work in congregations. Mentoring programs support students throughout their studies and beyond, helping new ministers to develop networks that will sustain them throughout their career. International students will bring a diversity of voices and experiences to promote new inter-faith dialogue in the academic program and in their communities. The enhanced program allows for the following initiatives:

  • New Church Development No one knows what the future church of Canada will look like, but we do know that new church models will be required in an age of mission. The church of the 21st century will, in many cases, look quite different from our traditional churches. A specialty in New Church Development combines a strong theological education with practical apprenticeships which will put students to work in a variety of emerging church models.
  • Congregational Renewal Max De Pree, a well-known Christian writer, once stated that “we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are”. In an effort to address the changing needs of their members, many congregations are actively engaged in a challenging, yet hopeful, rebuilding process. Students choosing a specialty in Congregational Renewal will work for two summer terms, alongside a minister with a congregation engaged in renewal.
  • Faith-to-Faith Studies Young Christian leaders from communities around the world will participate in a three year program in inter-faith studies offered by the Presbyterian College and McGill University’s Faculty of Religious Studies. McGill has partnered with the Tony Blair Foundation, whose mission is “to provide the practical support required to counter religious prejudice, conflict and extremism in order to promote open-minded and stable societies.”
Revitalized Facilities

In the midst of the diversity and energy of McGill’s University campus, the Presbyterian College offers its students an intimate and self-contained living and learning environment where students and faculty have a special place to develop their leadership gifts.

Most of our new programs include a residential component, and to make that experience as inviting as possible, the College is undertaking the renovation of spaces central to our student experiences and community gatherings. Residence rooms, kitchen facilities, and the outdoor atrium will be renewed.

For more information, please view our Taking a Leap of Faith Brochure.