News and Events

Early Bird Registration

This is the week to register for your June term class!  

  1. Go on a journey to commemorate profound moments in Civil Rights history 
  2. Celebrate the women in our faith community; past & present
  3. Dialogue with Jewish religious leaders & other seminarians (please contact Dr. John Lee jlee@leland.edu about this)
  4. (Diploma) Go on a spiritual journey to discover the depth & variety of spiritual disciplines

For any questions about how to register and or become a Leland student, please contact Min. Jacqueline Coker at jcoker@leland.edu of Registrar Andrea Bakke at abakke@leland.edu 

Deadline is Monday, April 15

The following Graduate Certificate Programs are designed to be completed in two years (part time) or one year (full time). These programs are offered to those students who have completed their baccalaureate degrees.

The Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies (GCTS) is a program of study designed for students who wish to receive a basic introduction to the major theological disciplines. The GCTS is ideal for lay persons who wish to better prepare themselves for ministry in the local church, complement professional careers, or to challenge themselves towards deeper intellectual and spiritual growth.

The Graduate Certificate in Leadership Studies (GCLS) is a program of study designed for students who are leaders or preparing to be leaders in various walks of life. The program is ideal for ministers and lay persons who wish to enhance their leadership skills in order to exercise theologically integrated leadership in congregational and other public life settings.

The Graduate Certificate in Theology and the Arts (GCTA) is a program of study designed for those drawn to the intersection of theology and the arts. The program is open to all who wish to explore issues of truth, goodness, justice, and beauty, not only as students but as practitioners. The program is ideal for both artists and those who enjoy the arts.

The Graduate Certificate in Theology and Public Life (GCTPL) is a program of study designed for students interested in theology and public life. The program is ideal for those who work in government, in policy, and non-profits whose work touches on issues of religion, justice, or the common good. The program also equips church leaders to minister to those who work in these areas.

The Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Formation (GCSF) is a program of study designed for all those interested in spiritual formation, for themselves and for those who desire to lead and teach Christian spiritual formation. The program examines various spiritual disciplines and equips students to introduce and develop spiritual formation groups in churches and other settings.

The Graduate Certificate in Justice Formation (GCJF) is a program of study designed for students interested in what the Bible says about justice and what relevance that has for people, particularly Christians. The program especially examines the intersection of biblical justice, church, public policy, and policing. The program is ideal for ministers and lay persons in all callings who are interested in the character and spiritual formation of justice as a virtue.

For more information, please contact Dr. John Lee at jlee@leland.edu or Min. Coker at jcoker@leland.edu

June Term Class Registration for June term classes are officially open!

Full House: Women as Ecumenical Figures – Dr. Elizabeth Newman will be leading a course that will study the lives and theological contributions of four women with a focus on how their witness serves as a window for building up the unity of the church. These women are Mary, the mother of Jesus; Theresa of Avila; Lottie Moon; and Dorothy Day. This course will be taught in conjunction with the Baptist International Conference on Theological Education: “Together: Re-imagining and re-reading HERstory in the church,” which will take place in Nassau, Bahamas, July 5-7. Attendance at the conference is encouraged, but optional; plenary sessions will be available via technology. For information about the conference, see https://www.bwanet.org/events/upcoming-events/baptist-international-conference-on-theological-education. Students will also meet June 28-29, 9 am – 4 pm at Leland. Both men and women are welcomed to register.

Emerging Religious Leaders in Jewish Christian Dialogue – Leland’s Dr. Daniel Dapaah will be part of the faculty team of this dialogue course sponsored by the Washington Theological Consortium. This course brings together Christian seminarians and Jewish rabbinical students to engage in textual study and conversation about issues of ministry in the context of Jewish-Christian dialogue. It will take place in late May for four nights and four and a half days at an overnight retreat center. Students must commit to staying at the retreat center and participating in the entire course. All fees except for tuition are covered. Leland can send up to two students, who must be approved by the Dean. If you are interested in being considered for this course, contact Dr. John Lee jlee@leland.edu

Lenten Service This Sunday March 10

This coming Sunday is our Lenten Service. The place for our worship will be the church where I serve as pastor, The Rock Presbyterian Church, in Bethesda, MD. We meet in a United Methodist Church called Concord-St Andrew’s.

The address is 5910 Goldsboro Rd, Bethesda, MD 20187.

The time of the worship is at 6pm.

The preacher is Rev. Gareth Murray, Jr.

Please join our Leland students for a time of worshipping together.

Dean John Lee 

Leland Provost Michael Hines

Michael (Mike) Hines is a retired member of the District of Columbia and Atlanta law firm of DowLohnes, PLLC, where he practiced corporate and tax law and served on the Management and Executive Committees. He led the Tax Group, including its Greenville, S.C. accounting affiliate, DowLohnes Price. Prior to joining DowLohnes he served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Department of the United States Air Force, specializing in contract law. Mr. Hines has served as a deacon, chair of deacons and Bible studies teacher in Baptist Churches in Northern Virginia.

He received his B.A. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Juris Doctor from Harvard University Law School.

Mr. Hines and his wife, Patricia, live in Arlington, Virginia and have a son and a daughter.

New Leland Leadership

The Rev. Dr. William H. Smith serves as President of the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Virginia. Smith was present at the beginning of Leland’s formation. He taught the first class given by the John Leland Center for Theological Studies and has continued to teach at Leland as an Adjunct Faculty member in Old Testament. Smith exemplifies the original vision of Leland at its formation when pastor-scholars took up the goal of serving churches by the training of pastors. In all three of his pastorates he has worked closely with seminary students. He has been a pastor in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia. He has extensive experience in multi-ethnic congregational ministry and in addition to pastoral work he served with his wife, Judy, in urban ministry in Southeast Washington, D.C. as a Baptist Center director. The President has traveled in mission efforts in the Middle East and India. He has enjoyed study tours to Israel, Egypt, Greece and Turkey. He graduated from Baylor University and the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now named Gateway seminary) with an M.Div., and Ph.D. At his election as president, Smith was engaged in the formation of a partnership with the Mount Vernon Baptist Church and Justice Fellowship to bring a gift of property valued at six million dollars to the John Leland Center for Theological Studies. This gift represents the most significant financial platform in its history and marks the beginning of a newly adopted plan for the expansion of Leland’s ministry.

All School Gathering

It is customary for us to kick off the Spring 2019 semester together as a Community as we welcome our new students and encourage the returning ones. On Saturday, January 19, 2019, we will be hosting our All-School Gathering/ New Student Orientation at 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Main Campus- 1306 N. Highland Street Arlington, VA 22201. Event will be held downstairs in the White Hall. The invitation is extended to you to mark your calendars and make plans to attend. It will be an excellent way to start our semester of study as we thrive to “Develop God’s Chosen Disciples.” Let’s come together to worship, fellowship and break bread in the spirit of “Equipping Transformational Leaders for the Global ministry of Jesus Christ.”
-Hope to see you there!

Dr. Shirin Quoted in Christianity Today

Dr. Shirin was quoted in Christianity Today article on the Russian-Ukrainian church schism. This is the biggest church schism since Protestant Reformation. Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, granted the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine autocephaly, or autonomy. Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow, swiftly protested and declared that Russian Orthodox Church will not recognize this decision. Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate remains one of the two largest churches in the Ukraine. As a result of the controversy, Bartholomew is no longer mentioned during Russian Orthodox liturgies. Christianity Today quotes Dr. Shirin as calling on Ukrainians to work diligently to restore peace and unity of Eastern Orthodox family regardless of their allegiances. The full text of the article is available at;


Leland Spotlight

We are excited to announce that our former Director of Enrollment and Development, Rev. Danielle L. Bridgeforth, has published her first book. Vantage Point is a twenty-week devotional that examines foundational spiritual principles from five points of view designed to give readers God’s perspective on them and their lives. You are invited to join her for the official book release and signing on Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 5 pm at the Church at Clarendon (1210 N. Highland Street, Arlington, VA 22201). If you are not able to attend the event, but would like to purchase a copy you can do so here: https://www.redemption-press.com/shop/vantage-point/

Leland Advent – Sunday, December 02 at 6pm

Leland families and friends of all ages are welcome to join us for service as we thank God for the coming of the Prince of Peace. The Advent Celebration service is an annual event for the Leland community. We trust it will be a unifying and positive reminder of the common name we share as children of a God who demonstrated his immeasurable grace in the coming of his son, Jesus Christ. Following the service, conversation, food and fellowship will round out our evening together.


With the holidays approaching, you have enough time to shop at our brand new online Leland store. We’re so excited for our Leland family to represent this amazing seminary! Check out our store here: http://footprintapparel.com/johnlelandstore  and be sure to spread the word! Remember, you have until December 09 to submit your order, and processing will begin on December 10.  Don’t wait to order as there is less than two weeks left until the store closes.

A message from Rev. Walker

The John Leland Center appeals to its friends and supporters for gifts only twice a year. I asked for your help in April; thank you for responding. We need your help at year’s end, too!
Yes, part of Leland’s annual budget is funded by wonderful denominational partners — particularly, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, District of Columbia Baptist Convention, and Northstar Network, including many churches. Another part is from tuition payments from students and scholarships. But, without that third leg — gifts from friends like you — Leland cannot stand. We’ll not be able to make ends meet, let alone thrive robustly in the future.

This is an exciting time — a time of transition — at Leland. The trustees and faculty are making plans to take Leland to new heights. These include, among other things, a vision to enter the realm of online, distance teaching and learning without which small, free-standing, seminaries like Leland cannot survive nowadays. The details have yet to be worked out and therefore announcements are presently premature, but I am sure you would agree that the potential for Leland is bright.

By the way, speaking of the future, Leland this fall is entering its third decade! Can you believe we’ve had twenty wonderful, productive years of preparing students to proclaim the gospel and to promote God’s Kingdom in so many different ways?

Also, on a personal note, my interim presidency will conclude at this calendar year’s end. It will have been an honor and privilege to have served Leland for 16 – plus months. Thank you for being so supportive of my ministry here at Leland.

Again, won’t you please make a generous gift to help meet Leland’s current budget needs and invest in Leland’s future? We appreciate you!

J. Brent Walker
Interim President



We are pleased to announce that Leland would be represented at the 142nd Annual Gathering of DC Baptist Convention (DCBC) to be held on October 25-27 at the Pathways Baptist Church in Gaithersburg, MD, the theme for this year is “Undivided”

In addition, WAVA’s Pastor Conference, entitled Equip “The Art of Preaching,” to be held on Thursday, 10.11.18 at the Museum of the Bible. Both events will be attended by our Director of Enrollment, Min. Jacqueline Coker as an opportunity to network and recruit potential students.

From Dean John Lee

On Friday, September 21st, we gathered together for a prayer meeting at the Church at Clarendon for our Leland community, our area churches, and beyond. The event brought together people from The Rock Presbyterian Church, where Dean Lee serves as the senior pastor, and our Leland community of students and faculty. We also got to hear from Dan Baumann who is a career-missionary who was imprisoned in Iran for nine weeks in 1997. Dan’s message of intimacy with God and God’s embrace of us in our weakness and loving our enemies powerfully stirred all of us.

On Monday, September 24th, we gathered again – this time for the Washington Theological Consortium’s Faculty Convocation – for an extended meeting of worship and lecture. The worship was led by our Leland student, Sly Samudre and his wife, Amy. A combination of well-loved hymns and contemporary praise songs, beautifully sung and wonderfully led by Sly and Amy, brought a little taste of contemporary Baptist/evangelical style of worship to faculty members from other Christian traditions. The worship was followed up by a lecture about the cosmos and spirituality from Dr. John Haught, a well-respected Catholic theologian conversant in science and theology. To top off the evening, those in attendance met over a delightful dinner and conversation in White Hall of the Church at Clarendon.

Thanks goes out to the staff of the Church at Clarendon and all those who participated in these events.

Dean John Lee.

Still Accepting Applications…

If you or someone you know is interested in enrolling for classes, please contact Min. Jacqueline Coker, Director of Enrollment, at jcoker@leland.edu


Civil Rights Pilgrimage – open to all

Professors Jim Melson and Trisha Miller Manarin invite you to join us in November on a Civil Rights Pilgrimage. It is open to all.

We know our country continues to battle the sin of racism, classism, sexism and many other -isms. MACBF along with our partner the Cornelius Corps will engage in a time of spiritual practice leading up to our departure date. We will prepare ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ, not simply tourists learning more about American history. Our pilgrimage will introduce us to people living and dead who have impacted the world with the goodness of the Gospel.
A charter bus will depart from Northern Virginia on Thursday evening getting us to Alabama Friday morning. In addition to visiting these historic sites, we will be hosted by Rev. Reginald Brown of South Elyton Baptist Church. Rev. Brown is remarkable servant of God who has helped integrate public schools as well as pastor a local congregation. Our journey will take us to Selma and Montgomery. We will stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and quietly experience the new Memorial for Peace and Justice and we will stop and pray along the way.
Sites of Interest:
16th Street Baptist Church
Civil Rights Institute
Edmund Pettus Bridge
National Memorial for Peace & Justice
Civil Rights Memorial
Approximate Cost $575 plus meals

$250 deposit due Sept 15 – space is limited

Departing by bus Thursday evening, returning Tuesday (election day) evening. You will need to vote via absentee ballot.
Children over 10 years old may attend with a parent. Teens must be accompanied by a fellow church leader or parent.
***Those who need an advocacy rotation may contact Prof Manarin to earn credit for participating in the pilgrimage and doing an additional assignment tmanarin@leland.edu ***

For more information, please contact Professor Trisha Miller-Manarin


Leland Merchandise Now Available!

 An 11 oz. ceramic coffee or tea mug featuring an imprinted message of “Knowing Christ Serving Christ” image in white printed on both sides.  This ceramic mug is a great hot or cold beverage holder for office or home coffee or tea drinking.  They also make great gifts!  To find out how to order, Please email Jacqueline Coker or Vicki Bohannon  

Melissa Rogers Will Speak at Leland Graduation 2018

Leland will hold its graduation at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Church at Clarendon and our guest speaker will be Melissa Rogers, a member of Columbia Baptist Church and formerly special advisor to President Obama on policy issues related to religion and partnerships with faith-based organization serving people in need.  Melissa currently serves as non resident senior fellow for Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution

News From Leland’s Alumna Lisa Smith

Dear Leland friends!

“I wanted to pass along our news as a Leland Alumna.  Convergence is currently the featured article on Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership online magazine”. https://www.faithandleadership.com/art-and-faith-converge-hybrid-churchcommunity-arts-center?utm_source=FL_newsletter&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=FL_topstory

They read about us in the recently published book Divergent Church: The Bright Promise of Alternative Faith Communities (Abingdon Press). http://www.abingdonpress.com/product/9781501842597#.WsUQz4jwZdg 

I hope that you feel joy as well, since, it is in large part due to Leland and the encouragement of the faculty, staff and students that we are even here. God blessed me with the right teachers, encourages and challengers at just the right time in my life and I am grateful to have had the seminary experience I did. Thank you! Please let me know if there is any way I can be of service by sharing some of what we’ve learned, encouraging, etc. I would really appreciate it if you would share this news with Leland Alumnae, students and supporters. I certainly know how important encouragement and knowing you aren’t “alone” in doing things differently can be.


No Class during Reading Week!

Holy Week (March 25-31)  Students, Please use this time to read, recharge and get closer to God.. Enjoy this time during reading week to get closer to God. Classes will resume on April 2.

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