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UMC Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation

Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful

If you are interested in pursuing UMC Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation, we provide the required courses that meet the approval of The United Methodist Church. This program is designed for those with an interest in exploring meaningful facets of their own spiritual formation and their leadership with others in spiritual formation ministries.

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Online and Intensive Courses Available $425 per Credit Hour with Student & Technology Fees Included Earn Up to 15 Credit Hours that can be Transferred into a Degree Program

The courses in the UMC Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation will help you have:

  • Regular practice of spiritual disciplines within your life
  • The ability to teach others diverse spiritual disciplines (including, but not limited to, lectio divina, various forms/types of prayer, confession and examination of consciousness, processes of discernment, leadership of worship, fasting and self-emptying, and ways of hospitality)
  • An understanding of and engagement in the essential link between spiritual formation and congregational life (e.g. in worship leadership and preaching, Christian education, pastoral care, community outreach, mission and evangelism, church administration, and ecumenical and interfaith dialogue)
  • Knowledge of and the ability to teach history and practices of Wesleyan spirituality
  • The ability to lead retreats with persons of varying ages
  • The ability to offer spiritual direction, both one-to-one and/or in-group modes

Course Requirements

  Course Title Credit Hours Per Course
  Teaching for Biblical Faith 3
  Introduction to Spiritual Direction 3
  Spiritual Practice 3
  Practicum in Spiritual Formation* 3
  One of the following:
  • United Methodist History
  • United Methodist Doctrine
  • United Methodist Polity
  • United Methodist Studies: Wesley and the 19th Century
  • United Methodist Studies: 20th Century to the Present

United Methodist History, Doctrine, and Polity are 2 credit hours each

Both United Methodist Studies courses are 3 credit hours each

*Students should complete Introduction to Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Practice before enrolling in this course.

The UMC General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has authorized that only three out of the five courses for this certification may be taken online. Spiritual Practice, Introduction to Spiritual Direction, and Practicum in Spiritual Formation are offered online. For persons at a distance, we offer both United Methodist Studies courses and Teaching for Biblical Faith as two-week on-campus intensives.


Course Descriptions

Teaching for Biblical Faith (CE 502)
In this course, participants will engage critical, creative, liberative approaches to reading and teaching the Bible in communities of faith. We will explore reading strategies from the margins, particularly as articulated by racial/ethnic biblical scholarship. Synthesizing this exploration of critical methods of biblical interpretation with knowledge of developmental and learning theories, we will construct teaching strategies for Bible studies that would enliven transformative, transgressive biblical faith.

Introduction to Spiritual Direction (CL 660)
Explores historical traditions and modern approaches to the art of individual and small group spiritual direction/guidance and its place in the church today; relationship of spiritual direction to counseling, therapy, and mentoring.

Spiritual Practice (CL 663)
Focuses on the varieties of Christian spiritual practice, experience with that practice, and the process of Christian formation. Includes classic Christian prayer forms such as Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, and Ignatian Prayer, with applications of spiritual formation practices in congregational life.

Practicum in Spiritual Formation (CL 678)
Supervision in spiritual guidance of individuals and groups, requiring regular engagement in one's own spiritual direction, offering individual and/or group spiritual guidance to others; class provides peer supervision through personal written reflections.

United Methodist History (DENOM 600)
This course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to become knowledgeable about the origins of the Wesleyan tradition and its expressions in The United Methodist Church. It explores the roots of the movement in the Anglican Church and the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th century, and the history of the institutional and theological development of American Methodist/Evangelical United Brethren tradition through the beginning of the 21st century.

United Methodist Doctrine (DENOM 601)
This course is designed to make the student familiar with the theology of John Wesley by becoming familiar with his sermons, a doctrinal standard in the United Methodist Church. This will become a starting point for understanding Methodist theology in general, which is characterized by a theological method that seeks to contextualize the Christian faith in a connectional structure of the church.

United Methodist Polity (DENOM 602)
This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to fulfill the learning goals described by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church for fulfillment of the Polity requirement. We will focus on the broader ecology of the ecclesiological forms, governance configurations, membership and orders as they are expressions of the United Methodist expression of Christian mission. The student’s use and growing familiarity with the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions is an essential requirement and expectation of the course.

UM Studies: Wesley and the 19th Century (DENOM 603)
The foundational contribution of John Wesley to the history, doctrine, and polity of Methodism. The Methodist tradition in the U.S. through the 19th century.

UM Studies: 20th Century to Present (DENOM 604)
Developments within United Methodism, as related to the ecumenical movement, world mission, personal evangelism, and social justice. Evolution of polity, theology, and denominational structure.

Admission Requirements/Application Process

Garrett-Evangelical Admission Requirements

  • Bachelors degree in any field

Garrett-Evangelical Application Process

  • Complete online application
  • Submit resume
  • Request undergraduate/graduate transcripts be sent to Garrett-Evangelical

GBHEM Enrollment Process

  • Once you have received your acceptance letter from Garrett-Evangelical, download and complete the enrollment form from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) found here.
  • Send copies of your completed GBHEM enrollment form to your annual conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry and to the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Certification in Specialized Ministry, P.O. Box 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007.

For more information about the admission requirements and/or application process, please visit our FAQs webpage or contact our Admissions Office at or 847.866.3998.

Link to Apply Now Link to Inquire Form


Will I receive a Garrett-Evangelical Certificate for completing this course work?

No, completing these courses will only make you eligible to pursue UMC Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation.

Are there other requirements I need to meet for a UMC Professional Certification in Spiritual Formation?

Yes. Garrett-Evangelical provides you with the courses, but The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) sets the requirements for you to receive UMC Professional Certification and this certification is granted to you by your Board of Ordained Ministry. Download Requirements

Click here to access more FAQs about Garrett-Evangelical Certificate Programs and UMC Professional Certifications.

What Past Students Are Saying

The opportunity to participate in the courses for certification in spiritual formation through Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary was both an invitation to go deeper in my own journey and an unfolding affirmation of my call to walk with others. The immersion in prayer practices was perhaps the most formative and impactful course for me.  The knowledge of the rhythm and rule of prayer and the experience of the collection and range of practices established in me a language that names and reminds me of the One who holds me as I live into the evolution of my ministry practice and my personal life. It was indeed a pivotal and impactful aspect of my journey.

- Rev. Jane Watts, Executive Director, The Ross Lynn Charitable Foundation, Inc.

I am so grateful to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary for their dedicated and insightful work in spiritual formation. The five courses required for professional certification are gifts and blessings. Each course deepened my personal walk with Christ and opened my heart to the depths and grace of loving and serving others. As a result, I have seen the fruit of the Spirit grow and multiply in my congregation. As people are introduced to Wesleyan spiritual formation through prayer and the practice of the spiritual disciplines, holy listening, and spiritual direction, lives are transformed and a path created that leads to authentic Christian discipleship.....for the transformation of the world.

- Cherri Johnson, Spiritual Director, Emeritus, First United Methodist Church, Baton Rouge, LA

The courses I took toward UMC Certification in Spiritual Formation have provided knowledge and wisdom for me that I draw upon regularly in my ministry and personal relationships. Each of these courses planted seeds that continue to grow and bear fruit in my life and hopefully in the lives of those to whom I minister. We need Holy wisdom that can be shared in practical ways with the world to extend the kingdom of God. These courses enable a faithful soul to do so.

- Rev. Cathy Brewton, Founder and Executive Director, LifeHouse Ministries

At a time in my life when I was hungry for more God and thirsty for deeper spirituality, I found the UMC Certification in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. In my classes of spiritual practices and spiritual direction, I found not only my soul's deepening but my calling as a deacon to build a ministry of spiritual formation, "creating beauty from the broken pieces of life."

- Rev. Cindy Serio, Deacon, Texas Conference, The United Methodist Church