UDTS Home | Admission | Academic Calendar | Master's Registration Info |  Christian Leadership Program Info | Christian Leadership Program Registration Info | Continuing Education

  Christian Leadership Program:

Quick Links

 CLICK HERE   for information about CEPlus 

CLP Curricular Goals 
  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. 

SUMMER 2024 REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Deadline for registration is 1 week prior to the date of the first class.

Below are our current Spring and Summer 2024 course descriptions. Summer classes will begin online on May 6, 2024. Contact Becky Shellabarger at DERegistration@dbq.edu with any questions.

Fall and August 2024 Course Descriptions will be updated by March 2024.

Important information: We are in the process of transitioning our courses to be taught in 8 week semesters instead of the current 12 weeks. In the Spring 2024 semester, Foundations of Christian Education and Christian Caregiving for Pastors and Leaders will be taught in 8 weeks. The other courses will remain 12 weeks for the Spring and Summer 2024 semesters. It is anticipated that the remaining courses will transition to the new 8 week format over the 2024-2025 academic year. Please contact Becky Shellabarger, Director of the Christian Leadership Program with any questions (DERegistration@dbq.edu)

Summer 2024: The following courses will be offered during Summer 2024. Dates for the summer courses are May 6, 2024 - July 26, 2024.

  • Presbyterian Polity (Rev. Dr. Gary Eller)
  • Introduction to Preaching (Father Kevin Goodrich)
  • Reformed Theology (Dr. David Congdon)

August 2024: We invite you to join us in Dubuque for in-person CLP courses during our August seminary intensive. Classes will take place August 5-9, 2024. This is an opportunity to not only take core courses in person on campus at UDTS, but an opportunity to be a part of the greater seminary activities during the August intensive including: Sunday welcome dinner, daily chapel and lunch, participation in the Warren Lecture series, CLP group mid-week dinner and the chance to meet some of your professors and classmates in person. Registration will open in Spring 2024, syllabi will be posted at a later date. Contact Becky Shellabarger at DERegistration@dbq.edu with any questions.

  • Presbyterian Polity (Instructor Alyson Janke, CRE is the current stated clerk for John Knox Presbytery. She has multiple years of teaching Presbyterian Polity for UDTS to her credit.)
  • Introduction to the New Testament (Rev Dr Loren Shellabarger)

Fall 2024: Our course listings for Fall 2024 will be updated in March 2024, prior to registration opening. All 8 of our core courses will be offered and all 8 courses will be offered in our new 8-week format. The courses will be offered on the following schedule:

Fall 2024 Course Schedule
Fall Term 1: 8/12/24 - 10/3/24  Fall Term 2: 10/10/24 - 12/11/24
Introduction to Old Testament   Introduction to New Testament
Christian Caregiving Introduction to Preaching
Reformed Worship & Sacraments Presbyterian Polity
Reformed Theology Foundations of Christian Education

Please review the registration procedures below:

  • To register, go to  http://my.dbq.edu  Login in the upper right corner, click Add/Drop courses, change term to Summer 2024, click search, you will see the list of CLP courses available to you! Check the add box on the line of the course(s) you want, click Add courses. It should give you a confirmation of success! If these short instructions do not work for you – Full Registration Instructions PDF !
  • Please note - this is only for students that have already been admitted to the program. If you have not applied for and been accepted into the program, please fill out our application first!
  • If you have any questions, please contact Becky Shellabarger, Director of the Christian Leadership Program, with any questions or concerns! 563.589.3261 or  DERegistration@dbq.edu

Here is the list of our core course options:

  • Introduction to Old Testament 
  • Introduction to New Testament 
  • Christian Caregiving for Pastors and Leaders
  • Reformed Worship & Sacraments 
  • Presbyterian Polity 
  • Introduction to Preaching
  • Introduction to Reformed Theology 
  • Foundations of Christian Education 

Core Congregational Equipping Course Descriptions 

A complete syllabus with weekly assignments is provided at the start of each class. For coursework technology requirements, please click on "Program Info" in the green box to the right above. Please direct any issues or problems of a technical nature to our university technology help desk at  helpdesk@dbq.edu  Please do not contact professors with technical issues.


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

Newly Accepted Students
Once you've registered for a course, you will be added to this course automatically. Please complete the assignments before starting a core class.

Rev. Dr. Gary S. Eller
Phone: (888) 244-6714
Email: Geller@dbq.edu


This course provides an overview of Presbyterian Church (USA) polity, both in principle and practice. Particular emphasis will be given to the use of the constitution in the local congregation and governing bodies. The class will include lectures, discussion posts, case studies, and outside assignments.


The primary objectives of the course are to:

  • Equip students to become competent moderators of Session
  • Help students become knowledgeable interpreters of Presbyterian polity for the local congregation
  • Increase student’s awareness of the denomination’s broader missional purposes
  • Instill in students an appreciation for Presbyterian connectional polity


  1. Regular and thoughtful participation in class discussions;
  2. Timely completion of the assigned readings;
  3. Attendance at a presbytery meeting (or one session meeting, with permission) during the course;
  4. An analysis of an observed governing body meeting;
  5. Completion of the final essays;
  6. Course evaluation will be based on class participation and quality of submitted work.
  7. The final grade for the course will be “Pass” or “Fail.”

 REQUIRED TEXTS (Buy printed copies)

  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part I,  The Book of Confessions, 2023-2025.
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Part II,  The Book of Order 2023-2025.
  • Goodwiller, Gregory A., A Guide to Parliamentary Procedure in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (This is a PDF document at http://www.pcusa.org/media/uploads/oga/pdf/parliamentary_ procedure.pdf)
  • Gray, Joan S. and Joyce Tucker, Presbyterian Polity for Church Leaders (Fourth Edition)
  • Hooker, Paul K., Faith, Hope, Love, and Witness: The PC(USA) Form of Government  (Leader’s Guide and Participant’s Book, Being Reformed Series) … (If still available at pcusa.org)
  • Wilton, Carlos E., Principles of Presbyterian Polity


  • Beattie, Frank A., Companion to the Constitution: Polity for the Local Church
  • Chapman, William E., History and Theology in the Book of Order: Blood on Every Page
  • Eason, Steven P. and E. Von Clemans, Making Disciples, Making Leaders, 2nd ed.
  • 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


Instructor:  Dr. David W. Congdon
Phone: (503) 341-8746 (good for texting as well)
Email:  dwcongdon@gmail.com


This course will introduce the theology of the Reformed tradition. It is designed to familiarize you with the broad contours of the tradition that flows from the Protestant Reformation and was heavily influenced by the writings of John Calvin, and it will meet the particular needs of those training to be Commissioned Ruling Elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Our journey through the Reformed tradition will be historical in nature, meaning we will trace the development of this tradition from its origins to the present day by looking at key Reformed confessions and catechisms. Taking this approach will illuminate what Reformed theologians mean when they say their tradition is “Reformed and always reforming.”

We will follow a “seminar” format in this class, which means our exploration will combine readings, discussion, and occasional lectures or notes from the professor. Each week I encourage you to raise questions and make observations about the readings. As we go along I will clarify complicated concepts and provide historical context for the document in question. You are not expected to memorize these texts but rather to become familiar with the main themes and ideas, so that you can draw upon them in your personal faith and in discussions with others. Whether you are a member of the PCUSA—and possibly in training to become a Commissioned Ruling Elder—or a member of another church, hopefully you will find these documents enlightening.

I will post video lectures each week along with questions for discussion. In addition, I would like to offer you all the chance to have an optional video chat Q&A time with me, where you can ask questions both to me and to each other. Please let me know if you are interested in this.


  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 enable you to personally engage these confessions and catechisms as part of your own faith journey.


In order to receive a passing grade, students must demonstrate:

  1. Regular participation in weekly class discussions responding to each week’s assigned readings. At least one post of at least 250 words is required in each week’s discussion forum. I ask that you post by Wednesday to allow time for others to read and respond to your comments.
  1. Completion of the final project (PICK ONE):
    1. A personal “Statement of Faith” drawing upon the readings, concepts, and themes explored during the course. Using parenthetical citations or footnotes, the statement of faith should make reference to at least two of the confessions. References to Scripture are also recommended. Do not give me your testimony: this should be your creed, not the story of your faith journey. (2 pages)
    2. A lesson plan for teaching the Reformed confessions and catechisms as part of your church’s Confirmation class, in which you have between 2 and 4 classes to cover the material. Explain what you would choose to cover and why, along with how you would present it. (2-3 pages)
    3. A short essay responding to the following prompt (2 pages):

In a 1942 essay, “Two Creeds for Every Church,” the philosopher William Pepperell Montague addresses the fact that modern Christians exist in a very different world from the ancient creeds (he was thinking of the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds). Some people no longer accept the traditional ideas of virgin birth or the second coming, for example, while others see those creeds as missing key items like talk of Jesus’ ministry and social justice. But Montague disagreed both with those who thought we should interpret the ancient creeds symbolically and with those who wanted to replace those creeds with a modern creed that matched the faith of people today. His solution was to propose that churches adopt two creeds: a classic creed representing the traditional faith of the church and a modern creed representing the views of Christians today. The latter would be a creed open to constant revision as our knowledge of science, philosophy, religion, and other subjects continues to advance. Do you agree with Montague’s proposal? Why or why not? How does the Reformed tradition help inform your position? What doctrines or ideas would you include in the second, modern creed?



  • McKim, Donald K. Presbyterian Beliefs: A Brief Introduction. Revised Edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2017.
  • McKim, Donald K. Introducing the Reformed Faith: Biblical Revelation, Christian Tradition, Contemporary Significance. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001.
  • McKim, Donald K. Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers. Revised Edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2017.
  • McKim, Donald K. More Presbyterian Questions, More Presbyterian Answers. Revised Edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2017.
  • Migliore, Daniel L. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.


Instructor: The Rev. Dr. Kevin Goodrich, O.P. 
Email: friarpreacher@gmail.com
Course Description:

An introduction to the basic principles of preaching, this course will give attention to sermon design and development, proper handling of the biblical text to derive the message of the sermon, illustrating and applying the message, types of sermons, and sermon delivery.

Course Objectives:

  • Students will develop basic skills in Scriptural exegesis.
  • Students will develop basic skills in congregational and cultural exegesis.
  • Students will develop basic skills of sermon structure, design, and delivery.  
  • Students will deepen their personal spirituality and relationship with God

Required Texts:

Long, Thomas. The Witness of Preaching. 3rd edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005.

Larson, Craig and Haddon Robinson, eds. The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching: A Comprehensive Resource for Today’s Communicators. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.

A modern English translation of the Bible, with study notes. Such as the NRSV Study Bible. 

Instructor Rev. Dr. Loren Shellabarger III
Email:  Lshellabarger@dbq.edu, lshellab@gmail.com


This course is a survey and introduction to the content, message, interpretation, and background of the Old Testament. The course will aim to:

  1. foster an appreciation for the message of the Old Testament; 
  2. encourage students to grow in their appreciation and understanding of Scripture; and 
  3. strengthen students’ connection with Jesus Christ through their knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament writings and their historical and narrative contexts.

By the conclusion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the distinctive theological concerns of the Old Testament texts.
  • Interpret the Old Testament texts within their social and historical settings.
  • Analyze Old Testament texts from historical, theological, and narrative perspectives.


Schlimm, Matthew Richard. This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2015. ISBN: 978-0801039799.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-0190276041.


Instructor: Rev. Benjamin Fitzgerald-Fye
Email:  pastorfitzfye@gmail.com

Course Description

This course surveys the contents of the New Testament and serves as an introduction to its content, themes, and interpretive approaches. Of course, you will also be reading the New Testament with the goal of expanding your understanding of historical, social, and other contexts.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will gain an overall appreciation of the New Testament.
  2. Students will be able to articulate basic social, historical, and literary contexts of the New Testament.
  3. Students will be able to articulate basic themes and topics addressed by New Testament texts.
  4. Students will be able to translate New Testament themes into practical, contemporary contexts.

Required Books

  1. Either the Harper Collins Study Bible (ISBN 9780060786854) or the CEB Study Bible (ISBN1609262166)
  2. Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey by Mark Allen Powell

Weekly Assignments

  • Each week, you will be required to respond to 2 questions in essay form (1 to 2 paragraphs so not essay essay) posted in the course.
  • Each week you will also be expected to respond to at least 2 of the posts from other students.


Instructor:  Rev. Dr. Richard J. Shaffer Jr.
Phone: (568) 845 - 9028 
Email: rshaffer@dbq.edu 

Course Description  
This course in Reformed Worship and Sacraments introduces 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).

Course Objectives
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;
  • An understanding of worship leadership and the ability to adapt Reformed practices to a particular context;
  • 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. 

Course Assessment  
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, 2018.
  • 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 for students who want to dig deeper)

  • 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


 Instructor:  Dr. Beth McCaw
 Phone:  (563) 589-3390 
 Email: bmccaw@dbq.edu

An introduction to the caring aspects of pastoral ministry, including biblical 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 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

Ten Weekly E&E (Exercises and Engagement).  Input from each class participant is needed for the mutual enrichment of all class members.  Credit is awarded for a minimum of 70% timely and thoughtful completing of weekly posts. 


  • Hunsinger, Deborah Van Deusen, Pray Without Ceasing: Revitalizing Pastoral Care (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006).
  • Killen, James L. Pastoral Care in the Small Membership Church (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005).  Selections.
  • Several articles provided as pdf’s on the course site.
  • Franklin, Cynthia, and Rowena Fong.  The Church Leader’s Counseling Resource Guide (New York: Oxford, 2011) – selections.


Instructor: Dr. Susan Forshey
Email: sforshey@dbq.edu 

Course Description

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.

Student Learning Objectives

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.

CRE Curricular Goals

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 a learning experience (35% of grade).

Required Books:

Harold Percy. Your Church Can Thrive. (Abingdon, 2005)

Maria Lichtmann. The Teacher's Way: Teaching and the Contemplative Life (Paulist Press, 2005)

David Sousa. How the Brain Learns. 5th Edition (Corwin, 2016) (There is a more expensive 6th edition, but we will be using the 5th edition).



Instructor Rev. Dr. Loren Shellabarger III
Email:  Lshellabarger@dbq.edu, lshellab@gmail.com

Course Description and Objectives

This course in Congregational Leadership and Administration examines Biblical and theological concepts of leadership, explores current secular understandings of leadership, and connects them to church leadership, demystifies financial reports commonly used by the church, discusses administrative techniques for church leaders, and applies these concepts and understandings to missional contexts. Students will gain an appreciation of following God’s leadership as they learn to lead others.

By the conclusion of this course, students should be able to:

- Describe various leadership traits and connect them to Scriptural characters

- Appropriately apply secular leadership techniques to church leadership

- Understand various financial reports and apply them to benefit the church

- Discover how to follow God while looking to lead the church

Required Texts

Brown, Brene. Dare to Lead. New York: Random House, 2018. ISBN 978-0399592522

Nouwen, Henri. In the Name of Jesus. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1989. ISBN 978-0824512590

Bolsinger, Tod. Canoeing the Mountains. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0830841264

Jamieson, J. T. & Jamieson, P. D. (2009). Ministry and money: A practical guide for pastorsLouisville: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0664231989

Last modified: Wednesday, February 7, 2024, 3:22 PM