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New Leadership Center Builds Bridges Between Ministry Worlds

News Sept. 7, 2017

In partnership with Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Cornerstone University and the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, the Urban Church Leadership Center will celebrate its grand opening in October 2017. Located on the second floor of GRTS’ Leon J. Wood Seminary Building, the fully Spanish-English bilingual center offers tools, resources, training and support designed for pastors and seniors leaders of local urban congregations.

“The Urban Church Leadership Center is looking to provide an experience of rest and renewal for urban pastors and ministry leaders across Christian denominations,” said Julian Guzman (M.A. ’12), director of the Urban Church Leadership Center. “It’s a dedicated, purposeful space for them to find peace of mind, heart and soul in their journey.”

Originating as one tangible initiative based on an extensive study of area religious congregations entitled “Gatherings of Hope: How Religious Congregations Contribute to the Quality of Life in Kent County,” the Urban Church Leadership Center exists to supplement urban pastors’ training in ministry through topical workshops, conferences, complimentary counseling services and professional coaching. Based on feedback from church leaders, the center’s initial offerings focus on the development of six ministry competencies: preaching, teaching and worship; pastoral care and spiritual guidance; church administration and governance; personal development and mastery; public engagement; and leadership supervision and development.

As Guzman reflected on the partnership between GRTS, the Urban Church Leadership Center and its growing network of urban leaders, he expressed excitement.

“The Urban Church Leadership Center represents a way of bringing two worlds together—the academic world and the practical theology lived out by pastors,” Guzman said. “There’s wisdom in the practical theology in our churches, and that wisdom now has a new way to have a voice through the center.

“And for the center, it’s about more than just being physically located here at GRTS. We are bringing into the equation the level of collaboration and wisdom of professors, faculty and staff.”

To learn more about the Urban Church Leadership Center or inquire about membership, visit

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