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Answering the call to ministry

We look around the world and see that ministry isn’t bound to the pulpit. Persistent inequality, poverty, violence and oppression call for response in the form of committed, loving action. How we choose to act varies with every individual. Each of us has unique gifts, specific talents, and leadings to address that which is broken in society. We have, as Friends say, that of God within each of us.

The action we take is the product of our empathy, passions, experiences, talents, leadings and education. We may be teachers, chaplains, or peace workers. We may be storytellers, businesspeople, or health care providers. We may be journalists, spiritual directors, or pastors. In every vocation, on every one of life’s paths, we can find vital ways to serve this world.

Ministry isn’t just a vocation or a calling. It’s a way of being in this world–seeking to make it whole. This is the ministry that ESR supports and equips.

How ESR prepares students for ministry

Preparation for ministry is the product of a holistic education that challenges the intellect and deepens the Spirit. We strive to provide an environment where both can flourish.

Our faculty and students share a belief in challenging, intensive study. We encourage students to think deeply and critically about the historical, theological and spiritual aspects of their faith journeys. This transformative approach to education doesn’t seek to simply reinforce what students believe, but to nurture an informed understanding of their faith.

Developing that understanding is more than an exercise of the intellect. Spiritual formation at ESR is a reciprocal relationship between students, faculty and the wider community. Students don’t make this faith journey alone. Courses, supervised field ministry, and personal relationships are the proving grounds for leadings of the Spirit and gifts of ministry. Together, we work to discern our place in ministry.

ESR’s role among Friends

The Earlham School of Religion has long been a place where Friends from many Quaker traditions can gather. We fill a unique role among Friends:

  • We support intellectual inquiry among progressive Friends and promote Quaker scholarship that is rooted in a belief in equality and justice.
  • We develop and educate current and future generations of Quaker leaders.
  • We provide opportunities for Quakers to seek spiritual renewal through a range of programs and activities.
  • We strengthen the bonds of fellowship with the ecumenical community, sharing values that we believe resonate with Christians of many progressive traditions.
  • We prepare students to make a positive difference in the Religious Society of Friends.


ESR’s role among other denominations

Earlham School of Religion graduates are employed in a wide range of ministry positions. For those pursuing pastoral ministry, a graduate degree from ESR helps prepare students for denominational requirements such as ordination and recording. ESR graduates employed in pastoral ministry serve in a wide variety of congregational settings affiliated with many different denominations. These have or currently include the following:

  • Church of the Brethren
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Congregational Christian Churches
  • Episcopal Church
  • Evangelical Friends Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Friends United Meeting
  • Mennonite Church (USA)
  • Metropolitan Community Church
  • Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Swedenborgian Church of North America
  • United Methodist Church
  • Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
  • United Church of Christ