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Lead Change

A Certificate in Community Faith Formation

“Do the work your soul must have." - Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon

The purpose of the Lead Change Certificate in Community Faith Formation is to support church and faith community innovators in reorienting themselves toward a just faith and activism propelled by the  teachings of Jesus, our conduit, connector, and catalyst for liberation.  

Lead Change is a 10-month Certificate Program in Community Faith Formation that addresses the unique challenges of ministry leadership in our time. Become a leader in the Decolonizing the Church movement by developing skills and practices that effectively counter systemic oppression and white supremacy. 


Thank you for your interest. We will be in contact soon.

Interested in learning more and/or applying? Please fill out the form below and a member of the JCSTS team will reach out via phone or email.

Lead Change offers a framework for community faith transformation centered around JCSTS’ five core competencies: (1) Theological Formation; (2) Interculturality; (3) Faith Community Formation; (4) Worship Leadership; (5) Community Transformation. 


JCSTS is an historically Black theological seminary whose mission is to advance communities of faith, justice and compassion through innovation in theological education. 


Course Schedule

The inaugural cohort of fifteen Learning Partners will begin on September 12th, 2023 and finish with an online Certificate Ceremony on June 23rd, 2024. The cohort will meet by zoom on Tuesday evenings for 2 and a half hours beginning at 7 pm eastern time.

Course Plan

Where other platforms describe their participants as "students" JCSTS has transitioned to the participant designation of "Learning Partners", which is the intentional description of those pursuing a competency-based learning experience with JCSTS. Lead Change is a cohort-based, facilitated, learning experience comprised of a Cohort Facilitator and Learning Partners: 

  • 10-month Course of Studies

  • A Cohort of up to fifteen Learning Partners meets together weekly

  • Cohort Facilitators guide the conversations


The Cohort-based, facilitated, learning experience enriches facilitator and learning partner alike.


Theological formation at JCSTS intentionally centers identity rather than credentialing. Exploring the identity questions that the Church confronts can be enriched through focusing on the experience of the Black Church and Black Liberation Theology. JCSTS’ competency-based educational approach focuses on doing and being, not just knowing and saying. Each course braids theological reflection, education, and practice. Learning partners are engaged through facilitated, cohort-based, online learning as well as individual coaching and spiritual direction, small group process space, and a curation of practices and resources throughout the program.

Upon completion of the course, learning partners will have covered:

Theological Formation: focusing on theological engagement that is fluent in biblical faith and justice and activates liberative action in the world. 

Interculturality:  focusing on cultural difference and helping Learning Partners understand and appreciate diversity as a foundation for deepening justice-oriented ministry in the world.

Faith Community Formation: focusing on contextual interpretation and equipping learning partners to read the signs of the times and act as ambassadors of the gospel in the current context.

Worship Leadership: focusing on the creation of a justice-oriented worship ecology grounded in Jesus’ ministry that forms communities of equity, hospitality, and affirmation of God’s creation.

Community Transformation: focusing on the competencies needed to nurture transformation and long-term systemic change. 


Elective Workshops will be offered on the 7th (and final) Tuesday of each of the five blocks at the regular cohort meeting time – from 7-9:30 pm eastern time.

These Elective Workshops are not required as part of the Lead Change Certificate in Community Faith Formation. However, they have been designed to support Learning Partners who are preparing for ministry in the context of congregational ministry or with the blessing and approval of judicatories or mid-councils that want to assure that Learning Partners are well prepared to offer leadership in that context.


Each Elective Workshop requires a separate registration fee of $100.


The topics addressed by the elective workshops are as follows:

  1. Polity and the Presbyterian Book of Order as a Liberative Document  

  2. Structural Power and Ethical Behavior in Pastoral Care

  3. Administrative Practice for Faith-Based Movement Building

  4. Liturgy for Expansive Community

  5. Preaching the Gospel without Fear  


Course Operations

  • The course is ungraded. Learning Partners will be assessed as they share learning assignments with the JCSTS Cohort Facilitator and one another during weekly sessions in an effort to help Learning Partners fully integrate the material. The weekly sessions are highly interactive, and all Learning Partners are expected to engage actively in the discussions.

  • JCSTS uses an online learning platform called Pathwright that is intuitive and easy for our Learning Partners to engage. Learning Partners will be given instruction and support on how to use the platform. Weekly Cohort Sessions will be held on zoom and Learning Partners will need to have access to reliable internet in order to participate.


Course Pricing

Each cohort of Lead Change is limited to 15 Learning Partners due to the highly interactive nature of the program. Tuition for the certificate is $3,375 plus an additional $100 for each of the optional Elective Workshops.

Scholarship Guidelines

JCSTS is unable to offer scholarships or payment plans at this time. However, Learning Partners are encouraged to approach their Middle Governing Bodies of the PCUSA or similar bodies in other church structures to ask for their sponsorship and financial support. Our goal at JCSTS is to foster connected learning communities built on the recognition that learning is a collective act, not an individual one.



  • Registration for Lead Change is currently live.

  • Interested parties will answer the following biographical and essay questions and submit them through our website by clicking the 'Submit' button above.

  • The JCSTS selection team will make initial decisions to select the participants in the inaugural cohort by mid-August.

  • Invitees will have two weeks to complete their registration and make appropriate arrangements for their payment. 

  • Registration will remain open until all fifteen spots are filled, or until one week before the Lead Change Inaugural Cohort begins. If there is a waitlist, those Learning Partners will be first in line for the second cohort of Lead Change (schedule coming soon).

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