What is the purpose of the Stevenson School for Ministry (SSFM)?

Our school began as a flexible alternative to seminary education to prepare students for ordination in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.  Education for everyone (lay and ordained) was part of our founding vision.  We have evolved into a collaborative online school that provides quality education for the present and future needs of our church and the people and parishes within our diocese and well beyond our borders.

Where is the SSFM located?

SSFM is an online school available to anyone with an Internet connection.  It is a ministry of the Central Pennsylvania Diocese of the Episcopal Church.  You do not have to be of the Episcopal faith to participate.

Who are your partners?

SSFM is always seeking partnerships.  Currently we are allied with other dioceses of the Episcopal Church: Bethlehem, Pittsburgh, Maryland, and the Virgin Islands.  We also share resources with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lower Susquehanna Synod, and the Lancaster Theological Seminary.

Is SSFM just for people who are seeking ordination as a priest in the Episcopal Church?

No.  We provide quality education to both individuals and parishes.  We provide quality education to people seeking ordination as both priests and deacons.  We provide quality education to people wanting to take leadership roles in their church.  

What certificate programs of study are available?

We offer a variety of structured programs of study:

Joint Certificate in Anglican Studies from Lancaster Theological Seminary

Lay Certificates:
  • Worship Leader and Lay Preacher
  • Lay Catechist program in collaboration with John Roberto, Vibrant Faith
  • Lay Evangelist in collaboration with the ELCA, Lower Susquehanna Synod
  • Lay Pastoral Leader (Parish Administrator)
  • Missioner of Social Justice
Ministry of the Deacon
Ministry of the Priest

Does getting a SSFM certificate guarantee ordination or licensure by the Bishop?

No.  The Stevenson School certificate courses provide the tools for ministry.  The Bishop and the Commission on Ministry oversee the ordination process and the steps to lay ministry licenses.

What if I just want to take a single course or seminar?

You are welcome to take a single course or seminar without formal application to the school.  Just follow the registration process as outlined here.  If you are interested in applying for an ordination track or a lay ministry certificate track, please contact the Dean or Associate Dean.

How is the SSFM academic year structured?

There are four 10-week terms: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.  Often there are 5 week courses offered in half terms: Fall A, Fall B.  A webinar usually begins and ends the term replacing our usual Learning Weekends for the present.  An integrative seminar which focuses on spirituality and community building is offered in conjunction with each webinar.

How could a parish take advantage of SSFM resources?

All courses are offered in a format that makes adult formation possible even for parishes that don’t have the resources to provide them.  10-week courses, 5-week courses, modules and seminars can all be taken by parish groups as well as by individuals.

I am already ordained.  Can I take SSFM courses for continuing education credit?

Absolutely!  We welcome clergy who need continuing education credits and will provide a certificate of completion upon request.

What is Shaped By Faith, and how is it related to the SSFM?

Shaped By Faith is an initiative of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania that invites parishes of our Diocese to create a diocese that is best shaped to serve God’s mission in central PA.  Learning opportunities at the Stevenson School seek to meet the objectives of the Shaped By Faith initiative.  Vouchers for participants in Shaped By Faith can pay for these learning experiences.

What is the Collaborative Mission Center, and how is it related to the SSFM?

In conjunction with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Lower Susquehanna Synod, we seek to expand the offerings of the Stevenson School.  We are growing into an ecumenical theological formation center striving to equip leaders with the necessary spiritual training and essential ministry tools to address the urgent and practical realities of ministry.  Most 5-week courses (including those offered through Shaped By Faith) and modules are offered as a part of this Collaborative Mission initiative.

What is the Certificate in Anglican Studies in collaboration with the Lancaster Theological Seminary?

Lancaster Theological Seminary and the Stevenson School offer this certificate program as a collaborative venture to prepare students for service in the Episcopal Church. It may be taken as a stand-alone certificate or as part of a seminary degree program.  This Certificate program supports a variety of Episcopal ministries ranging from priesthood and the diaconate to pastoral care, educational and lay ministries.

How much do SSFM courses cost?

10-week courses cost $300 at present with an additional $75 tech fee per term regardless of how many courses you take.  5-week courses are typically $75.  3-4 week modules cost $45.  Some racial justice offerings of the school are provided at no charge.

Is there financial support available to me?

We encourage you to seek the support of your parish and your diocese.  If you are in the Diocese of Central PA, partial tuition assistance is available for courses.  You must file an annual application for financial aid.  Please contact the Dean or Associate Dean to begin the application.  Also, if your parish is participating in the Shaped By Faith initiative of the Diocese, vouchers to cover the entire cost of some courses and modules are available.

What kind of credits will I receive, and will I be able to access a transcript?

The SSFM credits count towards the fulfillment of certain vocational, continuing education, and lay ministry requirements.  Courses that are taken at SSFM through the Lancaster Theological Seminary carry full accredited credit. Certificates of completion and transcripts are available from the Stevenson School upon request.

Is SSFM accredited?  Can I use these courses for a Bachelors or Masters degree?

Only the courses that are offered through Lancaster Theological Seminary are accredited.  Otherwise, please check with the degree-granting institutions concerning credit for our certificate programs.