Ordination at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies

Learning with CSS

Are you feeling called to teaching, congregational leadership, chaplaincy, writing, entrepreneurial spirituality?   Are you drawn to deepen your understanding of historical and cultural studies of religion and the Swedenborgian legacy in that history? Or to the study of sacred texts and their interpretation and Swedenborg’s approach to the Judeo-Christian canon? Or to an immersion in theological thought, spiritual practices and personal formation accompanied by Swedenborgian contributions and methods? Or to a study of key aspects of Swedenborg’s works?

The Center for Swedenborgian Studies in collaboration with the Graduate Theological Union provides guidance and resources supporting numerous paths of personal and professional development. These include ordained and consecrated leadership roles in ministry and academic training in several fields and disciplines in M.A. and Ph.D. tracks.  You can learn more about our programs for ordained ministry and academic studies below or contact us (hyperlink to contact page) directly with your questions.

Devin in RoodwoodsMinistry Paths‍

The Center for Swedenborgian Studies provides the educational foundation for those seeking consecrated leadership in the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA), also known as General Convention. Prospective leaders pursue one of two paths: ordination into the ministry of the denomination or Licensed Pastor status for a specific congregation.

Ordination into the Ministry
Our Certificate of Swedenborgian Ministry Studies is designed for individuals on the ordination track and includes a seven-course program that covers Swedenborgian theology, church history, biblical studies and practical disciplines. It is designed for both those in-residence and those studying at a distance. The Certificate compliments the other requirements for ordination, which include a Master of Divinity degree from an accredited theological school. CSS has partnerships with a number of schools who offer credit for our certificate courses. Individuals who are ordained in another denomination and seek induction into the SCNA are also required to complete the Certificate of Swedenborgian Ministry Studies.

Licensed Pastor Consecration
Licensed Pastor status allows a member of an SCNA congregation to be recognized as a consecrated leader of their individual church for a limited period of time. Those interested in the program apply in partnership with their congregation and participate in a series of training modules followed by a program of continuing education that lasts for the duration of their leadership position.

Prospective candidates for ordination, induction, or Licensed Pastor status should contact both the CSS Dean (hyperlink to email address) and the Chair of the denomination’s Committee on Admission to the Ministry (hyperlink to email address) for more information about the process.


Prospective MA and PhD students

The Center for Swedenborgian Studies is an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and its faculty are members of the GTU’s Core Doctoral Faculty. Students interested in pursuing Swedenborgian studies at the graduate level have the opportunity to work closely with CSS faculty advisors and earn a Certificate in Swedenborgian studies as part of an accredited MA or PhD program at the GTU. Students who wish to include the CSS within the scope of a degree program should speak with the Dean of the GTU and the Dean of the CSS as early in their academic journey as possible.

The GTU offers a range of educational concentrations, organized around four departments: Sacred Texts and Their Interpretation, Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion, Theology and Ethics, and Religion and Practice. Students enrolled with the GTU have access to courses offered at more than 20 affiliated member schools and academic centers as well as the University of California in Berkeley, whereby they have the opportunity to engage world experts on an exciting range of traditions and disciplines. The CSS faculty are positioned to guide GTU students who wish to incorporate the study of Swedenborgian history, thought, and theology into their graduate work. 


Certificate in Swedenborgian Studies

In collaboration with the Center for Swedenborgian Studies the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) offers a 6-course certificate program, which is available to students from outside the GTU who wish to engage in graduate level work in Swedenborgian Studies to enhance their learning and work. As this is a graduate certificate, students entering must hold an accredited bachelor’s degree.

The six courses required for the certificate are to be selected from among any of the courses offered by the faculty at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies, except that with the approval of the Dean of the GTU as many as two of the six courses may be taken with non-CSS faculty. One course may be devoted to a thesis. No more than two courses may be directed study (in addition to a thesis course if that is selected). The Certificate must be completed within four years.

There is a simple application process for this six-course program, which costs $500 per course. Financial aid is available. Students who wish to apply for the Certificate in Swedenborgian Studies as a stand-alone certificate should apply to the Dean of CSS, Dr. James Lawrence, More information on the GTU certificate programs can be found online here:


Community Education

Those not enrolled in a degree or certificate program can study with us in two ways:

Community Auditors
The Center for Swedenborgian Studies welcomes auditors from our community to attend our regular classes. In order to participate in a CSS class, please contact the instructor of the class for permission to attend and then fill out the GTU’s Community Education form and pay online the $300 fee online at:

Virtual Education for the Planet

Our Virtual Education for the Planet offerings provide online learning opportunities for the public. They aim to bring scholarly resources about Swedenborg and Swedenborgian theology to our broader, global, and increasingly interconnected communities. Our Virtual Education Modules run between 3-7 sessions and are free to take, although pre-registration is required for access to webinar and course materials.