Doctor of Ministry: 

Disability and Ministry

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The Center for Disability and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary exists to support ministry leaders of all abilities in nurturing and receiving the gifts and contributions of persons with disabilities through formational opportunities, including theological education, consultation, forums, and publications.

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Disability is a complex phenomenon: it represents a lived experience, a socially constructed group of people, and a critical analytical lens for examining cultural values and practices. As church leaders (of all abilities) challenge congregations to become more welcoming spaces for people with disabilities and their families, the church will need to reexamine her theology and ministry practices to receive the gifts and challenges that will accompany being an inclusive church.

This D.Min. program creates the space and time necessary for leaders to develop the concepts and seek the habits, skills, and practices necessary for leading a church made up of people with all kinds of abilities. The primary focus of this program is to develop a better understanding of disability in the U.S., advance a practical theology of disability, and to work out the implications of both for Christian ministry in a specific context.

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  • Hold an MDiv degree or its educational equivalent.
  • Have at least three years of ministry experience since the MDiv was completed.
  • Be prepared to participate in seminars for two weeks in each of the three years.
  • Application dates depend on when the cohort starts (see individual descriptions of cohorts)
  • If you do not hold an MDiv degree, contact admissions.

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Dr. Benjamin T. Conner had been involved in youth ministry in some capacity for over twenty years before coming to Western.  He has served the Church in congregations and through Young Life staff.  

Dr. Conner earned his Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary (Virginia) and his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary in Mission, Ecumenics, and History of Religions. His teaching and research interests include practical theology, youth ministry, discipleship and Christian practices, mission studies, evangelism, disability studies, and Christian history. 

The Doctor of Ministry Application includes:

  • Three recommendation forms
  • One letter of ecclesial endorsement
  • Two personal statements
  • One academic writing sample
  • Official Transcripts from previous educational institutions

Final admissions decisions will be made in September 2024, and all applicants will receive written and email notifications. 

If you have questions about your application, contact our admissions team at

  • January 9 - 11, 2025 | Online    

  • July 9 - 13, 2025 | Holland, MI    

  • January 8 - 10, 2026 | Online 

  • July 8 - 12, 2026 | Holland, MI    

  • January 7 - 9, 2027 | Online

  •  July 7 - 11, 2027 | Holland, MI

  • Commencement | April 2028 

Pastor Mike Gorr
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What was helpful early on was the sense of community and family that this cohort was to one another...That sense of being loved right where you were, especially as I was wrestling with all sorts of feelings that I didn’t measure up as a church planter and pastor.
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- Pastor Mike Gorr

Class of 2021