PATHWAYS: Transformative Theological Education for a Changing World

A ministry that originated in the Southeast Conference, PATHWAYS Theological Education ( is available to all people who want to deepen their knowledge and practice of the Christian life. Our focus values of openness, justice-seeking and diversity. Our program has three levels – foundation, application and synthesis. Whether you chose a course for enrichment, continuing education or to fulfill academic requirements for a call to authorized ministry, you are welcome to participate in our courses.

The UCC is in the midst of transition regarding the process of authorized ministry.  Members of Conference staffs and committees on ministry have been engaged in 2017 with the revised Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers in the United Church of Christ and studying the new Manual on Ministry.  How can each Conference, Association, and Commissions on Ministry (COM) assure that adequate preparation of candidates for authorized ministry is in place for its members?  What resources are already available that these groups can access? PATHWAYS Theological Education is a program of the Southeast Conference UCC and is open to all. Whether you need for a few courses to round out your educational program or are looking for a complete theological education program, PATHWAYS wants to work with Commissions on Ministry to support people called to authorized ministry.

PATHWAYS Theological Education maintains a robust curriculum of more than thirty courses that use the UCC Marks for Faithful and Effective Ministers as their foundation.  Each course has Marks chosen as the competencies to be addressed. Learning objectives are written to align with the Marks. End of course evaluations are based on those learning objectives to assess competency related to the Marks.

PATHWAYS courses are online and asynchronous—there are no set lectures or discussion times and the classroom is always open. Rev. Heidi Hulme, Pastor of Faith UCC in Davenport, Iowa, studied in the evenings after her children were in bed and in the mornings before they awoke. Course facilitator and Advisory Committee member Rev. Trish Greeves wrote from experience for the program’s 2015 Carpenter Grant application: “I am convinced that Pathways does indeed offer an excellent, accessible, and affordable alternative for ministerial training.”

Course facilitators provide a wealth of experience in local church, association, conference, and educational ministry around the UCC. PATHWAYS lives out its Progressive Christianity statement through this diverse faculty as well as by recruiting participants from across the denomination. The statement reads in part, “We understand all theology to be contextual; that is, arising from a particular culture, time period, and experience. Thus our faith is expanded and tested as we interact with and learn from other sources and faiths…” A variety of voices in the online community better prepares each person for ministry wherever and however God may call them to serve.

Whether it’s for UCC History and Polity, Professional Ethics for Authorized Ministers, or courses in the Bible, theology, preaching, or supervised ministry, PATHWAYS will work with your Commission on Ministry (COM) to assure that educational needs are addressed for your Members in Discernment (MIDs).

PATHWAYS participants (students) from eight different UCC Conferences have already taken advantage of the courses we offer.  Please visit our website to learn more:  There you can hear the stories of participants who completed the PATHWAYS program and are now authorized ministers in the Iowa and Southeast Conferences.