Kern Scholars Program

Kern Scholars Program

The Kern Scholars Program is an opportunity for young men and women who are called into pastoral ministry to earn a
Master of Divinity with little or no educational debt. The Program features a generous scholarship, robust community, and
pastoral enhancements to leverage this season of pastoral formation for greater ministry preparation.


Kern Scholars receive a 75% scholarship toward the entire M.Div. program.

This benefit enables young future pastors to earn the historical standard in academic preparation (the M.Div.) without taking
on more debt than a typical pastor salary can justify.


Kern Scholars journey through the program over four years with a cohort of 8-12 fellow learners.

The cohort structure allows for robust community to form among students, which is a valuable asset for pastoral formation.
Cohorts enter and graduate at the same time, take many classes together, and have numerous shared experiences along the way.

Pastoral Enhancements

Kern Scholars participate in extra-curricular experiences aimed at pastoral formation.

The Pastoral Enhancement structure seeks to provide enhanced opportunities for pastoral formation during the seminary
experience in an intentional way. Enhancements include small group discipleship, seminars, projects, and more. (Click here for the 2014-2015 Pastoral Enhancement Program)


Kern Scholars meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  • Age 27 years or younger in the year in which the student enrolls in seminary
  • Graduate of an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.25/4.00 
  • Acceptance into the Master of Divinity program
  • U.S. citizen
  • Committed to entering full-time, lifelong pastoral ministry in the U.S. pursuant upon graduation with intention to
    eventually becoming a senior preaching and teaching pastor with pulpit responsibilities
  • Eight (8) character qualities essential for pastoral leadership: leader, effective communicator, agent of change,
    maturing in character, creative, strong relational abilities, culturally engaged, and persistent.


During Seminary

  • Maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA
  • Complete the M.Div. in four years with cohort (click here for potential course plans)
  • Participate in all Kern Pastoral Enhancements
  • Attend annual Foundation-sponsored meetings and retreats
  • Submit an annual “Reaffirmation of Call to Pastoral Ministry”

After Seminary:

  • Serve as a pastor or church planter in the U.S. pursuant upon graduation. Kern Scholar graduates often serve as
    associate or student ministries pastors for a time but plan to eventually serve as senior and preaching pastors with pulpit responsibilities.  
  • Participate in the Kern Pastors Network, which seeks to support Kern Scholars and their future churches
    especially in integrating faith, work, and economics guided by biblical wisdom.

How to Apply

Complete the following items:

  1. Complete the GRTS Application to the Master of Divinity program
  2. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Seminary Scholarship Application. NOTE: Other scholarships and financial aid are available should you not be accepted in the Kern Scholars Program. 
  3. Kern Program Application
  4. Spouse Statement of Support (if applicable)
  5. Ministry Leader References (2)
  6. Interview with Kern Scholars Program Team

Application Deadlines: 

Priority consideration for the Fall 2015 cohort will be given to those who apply by November 30, 2014.  The first round of scholarships will be awarded in December 2014.  Scholarships will continue to be awarded in the spring semester until all available places have been filled.  

The application deadline for the Fall 2015 Cohort is March 31, 2015.


Darrell Yoder, M.Div.
Kern Scholars Program Director, Adjunct Professor
Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
(616) 254-1654

About the Kern Family Foundation

Drs. Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern, founders of the Kern Family Foundation, created the Pastoral Ministry Program to assist in developing exceptional pastors to lead local churches in the United States. The Kerns believe that healthy churches led by capable, committed pastors transform the moral fabric of our society in unique and positive ways. For this reason the Kerns have also established the Kern Scholars Program, a scholarship initiative in which Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is a key participant.